August 6, 2008
Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree: Student Evaluations of Law Profs are Reliable
Despite the consensus among educational researchers that student evaluations are reliable and useful, law profs often complain that they are not and are impaired by student biases. In Student Evaluations of Law Teaching Work Well: Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree [SSRN] Arthur Best (Denver) finds that educational research is correct; student evaluations of law profs are reliable and useful.
For some uses, such as guidance for students in course selection, shortcomings of the evaluations would be of slight consequence. For promotion or tenure decisions, despite law professors' skepticism, schools should use the data to identify outlier instructors. Basing conclusions only on large numerical differences among faculty should protect faculty members from unfair consequences caused by students' biases, since the effects of biases, if present, are likely to be relatively small.
Legal Research Instructors Revise Your Evaluations. Best recommends revising questionnaires. Virtually all of the forms he reviewed use phraseology that ignores the collaborative nature of teaching and learning. They focus attention on the professor, with the unintended consequence of portraying students as passive participants in their education. [JH]
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree: Student Evaluations of Law Profs are Reliable: