Through co-occurrence analysis of 1139 documents (1964–2018) we identified discussions about the implementation of student teaching evaluation (SET). We found that: (1) Attention to SET originated in the US in the 1970s, spreading to German-speaking countries in the mid-1990s and continuing in China and Latin America in the early 2000s. (2) SET is commonly viewed as a control tool deserving methodological improvement, while bias is debated in the US. We also found local trajectories: (3) Whereas in the US and Latin America SET is primarily seen as a management tool, German-speaking and Chinese authors reflect more on improving teaching. Chinese scholars consider SET a valid instrument for state control associated with artificial intelligence. Also, (4) SET is commonly used in medical education in the US and the German-speaking region and in physical education in China. We conclude that SET is discussed cross-nationally but affected by regional path dependencies.