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Impact bias in student evaluations of higher education

Grimes, A and Medway, D and Foos, A and Goatman, A (2015) Impact bias in student evaluations of higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 42 (6). pp. 945-962. ISSN 0307-5079


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© 2015 Society for Research into Higher Education In the context of higher education, this study examines the extent to which affective evaluations of the student experience are influenced by the point at which they are made (i.e. before the experience begins, whilst it is happening and after it has ended). It adopts a between-groups quantitative analysis of the affective evaluations made by 360 future, current and past postgraduate students of a UK business school. The study validates the proposition that affective forecasts and memories of the student experience are considerably inflated in prospect and retrospect; a finding that implies a significant impact bias. It is concluded that the impact bias may have important implications for influencing the effectiveness of student decision-making, the timing and comparability of student course evaluations, and understanding the nature and effects of word-of-mouth communication regarding the student experience.

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