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My Professor is a Partisan Hack: How Perceptions of a Professor's Political Views Affect Student Course Evaluations

  • April Kelly-Woessner (a1) and Matthew C. Woessner (a2)

In recent years, a number of prominent political commentators have raised concerns about the lack of ideological diversity on college campuses (Shapiro 2004; Black 2004; Kors and Silvergate 1999; Kimball 1998). Among other accusations, they claim that liberal college professors may actually penalize students for expressing conservative opinions by assigning them lower marks on exams and assignments (Horowitz 2003; Hebel 2004). Their concern is not without merit. Researchers have found that, when evaluating a colleague's research, college professors are more critical of work that contradicts their own views (Mahoney 1977). It is logical to assume that the same bias influences professors' evaluations of students' arguments. It is also reasonable to expect that students, charged with the important task of evaluating their professors, are vulnerable to their own ideological biases.We thank Markus Kemmelmeier and Janet M. Box-Steffensmeier for their helpful suggestions and valuable guidance. We also acknowledge the valuable support of research assistants Jessica Defenderfer, Cristina Ciocirlan, and Kathleen Winters. Finally, we would like to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the dozens of political science faculty throughout the country who took the time to distribute our survey to their undergraduate students. This project would not have been possible without their generous assistance. This research was funded through a Faculty Research Grant from Elizabethtown College.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
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