How Metacognitive Deficiencies of Law Students Lead to Biased Ratings of Legal Writing Professors
Catherine J. Wasson
Elon University - School of Law
Barbara J. Tyler
Cleveland Marshall College of Law - Cleveland State University
May 31, 2011
Touro Law Review, Vol. 28, 2012
Elon University Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2011-03
Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 1856185
The focus of this article is the aberrant student comment, the comment that generates scalding heat, but no light. We focus on those comments because we believe it is time to expose a deeply disturbing aspect of the student ratings process at its worst: it allows students to use the ratings process to abuse and bully a professor with no responsibility for the consequences of their actions. We believe that the aberrant and ugly comments on student ratings arise synergistically from two sources: (1) students’ metacognitive deficiencies, specifically the phenomenon known as the "Dunning-Kruger effect"; and (2) specific factors that have a particular effect on ratings of legal writing professors. Using psychological research on metacognition, the authors argue that metacognitive deficiencies in novice learners prevent them from recognizing their own poor performance and from recognizing their professor’s competence. This phenomenon, when coupled with the persistent institutional biases against legal writing professors, can damage a teacher’s career. Research into metacognition offers the legal academy a way to rethink the use of the standard student evaluation form and find ways to solicit more reliable and meaningful feedback from our students.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 33Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: June 1, 2011 ; Last revised: December 17, 2012
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