Thursday, January 21, 2010

Professor Salaries = f (Student Evaluations)

Imagine that starting next year, professors' salaries become determined entirely by student evaluations. Professors with the highest ratings will earn around $140,000 a year, while those with the lowest scores will receive about $30,000 a year. What will happen to teaching quality?

Congratulations to Elizabeth Ekey for providing a cogent analysis of the professor compensation scheme. Read Elizabeth's arguments in the comments section.

(This question is borrowed from James D. Miller's Principles of Microeconomics. The "winning" answer will exhibit concise and complete analysis.)


Anonymous said...

The quality of the teaching that is done will either increase or decrease depending on the salary that the teachers desire. -Kasandra Williams

Elizabeth Ekey said...

It depends on how you define the teaching quality. Students may simply be interested in an easy class that they will get good grades in with minimum work. Or they may define a good class as something that is challenging to them. In addition to that, everyone feels differently about what defines teaching quality. Some people prefer professors who are very hands on, personable, and are really passionate about what they teach. Others may prefer professors who pound the information into the student's head so they learn as much as possible. And some people want teachers who are both.

Then lets think about how the overall rating is calculated. If it is an average score, then the teachers don't have to worry as much if there is one or two people who rate them badly, but of course they will want a high average, so they will want as many people to rate them well as possible.

On the whole, if students rate the "hard teachers" badly, teachers will feel more motivated to make it easier so they can make more money. So they will actually make the quality of teaching decline.

Elizabeth Ekey

Yang Yang said...

Step 1:If it just become free market, we will expect quality increasing.
Step 2:But the equilibrium price and equilibrium quantity is unknown,and They put the price floor $30,000 and the price ceiling $140,000 on this free market.
If the equilibrium price is between price floor and price ceiling. They won't influence the quality .
if the equilibrium price is higher than price ceiling. it will cause Market shortage and decrease quality.
if the equilibrium price is lower than price floor will cause surplus and decrease quality.