Last May, CRÉPUQ published the results of a study on the attitudes of university students and professors towards technology. The association of Quebec university presidents sponsored the study, which sought to obtain statistically valid information on a broad sample.
University Affairs, a trade publication, interviewed Concordia University’s own Vivek Venkatesh last November and this January about the study, in which he was involved as a researcher. For example, he mentions that:
Our study was not designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of any one (or set of) instructional technique(s) over others. We set out to – and have succeeded in creating – robust, generalizable and predictive models of factors that impact attitudes towards university course effectiveness. Prior research (for example, Wright and Jenkins-Guarnieri, 2012) has analyzed the findings of 11 meta-analyses (193 studies) on student evaluations of teaching, or SETs, with a specific focus on their construct validity, susceptibility to bias, practical use and effective implementation. Their research provides support for the use of SET measures in evaluating instructor skill and teaching effectiveness.
We strongly believe that with a large enough representative sample and a probabilistic sampling strategy, which we have used in our study, gathering students’ perceptions on course effectiveness is a valid measure because it can reflect the reality of what is happening in the classroom – or, dare we say, what should be happening in the classroom. There have been various comments, both as a response to the UA article, as well as in the larger web sphere regarding the generalizability of our results due to a purportedly biased sample and the fact that our research was designed to reach specific conclusions. These assertions are simply untrue and bear very little logic.
A further paper will be submitted to the Journal Computers & Education.