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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Delores McNair

First Committee Member

Lynn Beck

Second Committee Member

Rachelle Hackett

Third Committee Member

John Swiger


In response to the continued reduction in higher education funding at the state and federal levels, educational administrators at both public and private institutions have had to reduce the number of course offerings, resulting in layoffs of those faculty members who do not meet regulated degree requirements for enough courses to retain their fulltime status. This study examined the effect of instructors' content knowledge (subject matter degree) on the results of the students' evaluations of teaching effectiveness (SETE) at a private for-profit junior college. The study employed an ex post facto causal-comparative research design. The data were analyzed through a hierarchical multiple linear regression in order to determine how much of the variance in students' responses on their evaluations of teacher effectiveness was accounted for by the instructors' content knowledge after controlling for gender, course experience, formal training in education and/or instruction, and time of day (session). The questions were categorized into four subscales using Shulman's Model of Pedagogical Reasoning and Action: comprehension, transformation, instruction, and evaluation. The data were then disaggregated into the following course subjects: English, math, natural science, psychology, and sociology. Results of the analyses suggest that instructors' content knowledge may have a negative effect on SETE results for the subscale evaluation. No effect of content knowledge was found on SETE data in the areas of comprehension, transformation, or instruction. The data suggest that the control variable of morning session has a negative effect on SETE data for the subscales comprehension, transformation, and instruction, while course experience shows evidence to suggest a positive effect within comprehension and transformation. When disaggregated by course subject matter, data suggest a negative effect of formal training on SETE results for English and psychology. Data also suggest a negative effect of morning session on sociology while course experience had a positive effect. The evidence suggests that a subject matter degree has no practical significance in defining instructional effectiveness from the perspective of the student, and that decision makers look to other assurances of instructional quality and not rely solely on a subject matter degree as a proxy for the requisite content knowledge.





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