Student evaluations of an instructor's racism and sexism: Truth or expedience?

Ethics and Behavior 8 (3):201 – 213 (1998)
Abstract
In many institutions of higher learning, questions are being added to standardized student course evaluation forms to assess the instructor's racism, sexism, and sensitivity to multicultural issues. In this article, 1 review data from both an experimental simulation and actual course evaluation submissions to show that such information is subject to two basic psychological errors. The first is the fundamental attribution error, which reflects the students inability to separate the message from the messenger when dealing with individual difference data that may contain conclusions that are politically unpopular (such as the evidence for race or sex differences). The second is the halo effect, where negative opinions about an unpopular instructor who does not teach well are likely to be generalized and result in the attribution of racist and sexist views to that individual.
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