The Use and Effects of Student Ratings in Legal Writing Courses: A Plea for Holistic Evaluation of Teaching
Judith D. Fischer
University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law
Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Vol. 10, No. 111, 2004
This article reports a study of student ratings (sometimes called "student evaluations") of professors in law school legal writing courses. A review of the literature discusses factors that bias the student ratings and the ratings' unintended effects, including effects on grade inflation and course rigor. Among the survey's reported findings are that student ratings negatively affected rigor in the classrooms of 25% of the respondents and that 31% of the respondents believed the ratings contribute to a lessening of course rigor in law schools. The article concludes that undue weight is placed on student ratings in light of their biases and negative effects. It recommends that teaching be holistically evaluated through such means as peer classroom visits and teaching portfolios.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 51
Keywords: Student ratings, evaluations, legal writing, instructors, professors, faculty, administrator, teaching, university, personnel, law school, survey, bias, grades, critique, personality, negative effects, consumer, grade inflation, rigor, peer evaluation, portfolio
JEL Classification: K10Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: May 14, 2007 ; Last revised: December 9, 2012
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