The Language of Praise in Russian Students’ Evaluation of Teaching
Recent decades have seen a dramatic rise in student evaluation of teaching (SET). However, they have overwhelmingly focused on quantitative ratings, neglecting students’ written feedback. This study addresses the lack of qualitative research on SET by applying a semantic theory and computational methods for analysing the language of positive feedback comments provided by students of the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Russia. Analysing a corpus of student commentary about teaching also contributes to the theory of pragmatics as the approach to analysing qualitative evaluations of teaching is based on the premise that students’ positive feedback can be treated as a sort of the compliment/praise speech act reflecting cultural specificity. Our findings showed that quantitatively the most common semantic pattern used by HSE students is ACTOR + (AUGMENTOR) EVALUATOR + PHYSICAL/MENTAL ACTION PERFORMED BY THE ACTOR + (AUGMENTOR) EVALUATOR. Thus, HSE students tend to praise the teacher more often than the other components of the teaching process and the teacher’s behaviour, thoughts, and feelings are viewed as more important than skills and speech.
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