Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Stacy Wahl


Many post-secondary institutions make significant use of student evaluations of teachers (SETs) to evaluate teacher effectiveness and students’ perceptions of their learning experiences in the course. However, it is unclear how teachers use SETs to inform their professional practice. Hence, the purpose of this basic qualitative study was to explore how SETs influenced instructors’ professional practice at a local community college from the perspective of the instructors, which the research question was centered on. The conceptual framework for the study was the cognitive dissonance theory, because it explains the changes in the individual’s behavior through the need to reduce mental discomfort caused by a disruptor (i.e., SETs). Eleven community college instructors were recruited through purposeful sampling and provided insights to the research question through semi structured interviews. Thematic analysis revealed that faculty members rarely used SETs to inform their courses and had concerns about the administrative use of the results derived from the SETs. The findings indicated that SET was not an optimally valid teacher evaluation method. For instance, a rigorous course attracted lower scores from the student and other non-academic factors, such as gender and race, influence the evaluation, which indicates that SETs were not a true reflection of the teachers’ effectiveness. A 3-day professional development project was designed based on the findings to produce a SET that accurately reflected student feedback. Positive social change can be achieved through teachers’ use of valid and reliable feedback from SETs to improve their instructional pedagogy, which reflects on higher job satisfaction and better instructional outcomes.