Written By Gregory Fischbach

October 20, 2023
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Gerard Dericks

Gerard Dericks.

HPU Director of the Center for Economic Education Gerard Dericks, Ph.D., was recently featured in an article titled “Course evaluation scores ‘mainly shaped by student personality’” by Times Higher Education. The article discusses how innate personality differences play a large role in how happy a student is with their course. 

The study that included researchers from HPU, University of Reading, and University of Bath unveiled thought-provoking insights into the foundations of student satisfaction.  Two fundamental tenets underpinning student satisfaction measurement are that it directly mirrors the quality of education, and that it can be enhanced by modifying educational components.

In the paper, which was published in the journal Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, it was found that a staggering 24% of student satisfaction in higher education can be attributed to a single personality trait: innate happiness. Given previous research in other domains of satisfaction such as occupational and consumer satisfaction, this discovery indicates that more than half of student satisfaction may arise from unalterable personality traits, including neuroticism and extraversion, rather than the actual quality of education received. 

Dericks, co-researcher, highlighted the worrying implication that universities keen to game student satisfaction rankings might be tempted to use trait happiness as an admission criterion.

“Accepting only innately happy students while rejecting the miserably unacceptable might be unethical, but unscrupulous university heads determined to manipulate satisfaction rankings could see it as a quick and easy alternative to the much harder pedagogical professionalism needed to ensure genuinely excellent education,” Dericks said.

To read the complete article on Times Higher Education, click here.

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