Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Student Evaluation of Faculty


  • Robert E. Haskell University of New England



Academic Freedom, Evaluation Problems, Faculty College Relationship, Faculty Evaluation, Faculty Promotion, Freedom of Speech, Grading, Higher Education, Legal Problems, Libel and Slander, Privacy, Reliability, Student Evaluation of Teacher Performance


Despite a history of conflicting research on the reliability and validity of student evaluation of faculty (SEF) it has typically not been viewed as an infringement on academic freedom. When it is suggested that SEF may impinge on academic freedom, it is often considered an attack on either student rights, or on the process of evaluating faculty performance in general. Faculty and educational administrator views and surveys are reviewed as SEF is used in salary, promotion and tenure decisions. It is suggested that the literature shows that SEF infringe on instructional responsibilities of faculty by providing a control mechanism over curricular, course content, grading, and teaching methodology. It is further suggested that SEF play a significant role in current attacks on tenure, and that its role in a demographically diverse 21st century educational system has changed from its benign historical origins. It is concluded that contrary to current views, SEF is a serious unrecognized infringement on academic freedom.


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Author Biography

Robert E. Haskell, University of New England

Robert E. Haskell has been teaching college and university level courses for over twenty years. He earned his Ph.D. from the Pennsylvania State University in Psychology and Social Relations, his M.A., and B.A. from San Francisco State University. His areas of research and teaching include: transfer of learning, analogical reasoning, small group dynamics. Major publications include: four books, the latest of which is, The Future of Education and Transfer of Learning: A Cognitive Theory of Learning and Instruction For The 21st Century (forthcoming), and numerous presentations, chapters, and research articles in national and international journals. He also serves on several editorial review boards, and is Associate Editor of The Journal of Mind and Behavior. He is former Chair, and currently Professor of Psychology, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of New England.




How to Cite

Haskell, R. E. (1997). Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Student Evaluation of Faculty. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 5, 6.