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Implications of Recent Research on Student Evaluations of Teaching

5 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2007 Last revised: 9 Dec 2012

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law


This article discusses recent research about student evaluations of professors (sometimes called student ratings.) Recent studies identify factors that bias the ratings, including the effect of the students' expected grades. Studies also identify negative effects of the ratings, including a lessening of course rigor.

The results of the author's study about student ratings are also discussed. Survey respondents were teachers of legal writing in U.S. law schools. Asked whether they had ever refrained from doing something they thought pedagogically sound because it might negatively affect their student ratings, 25% responded yes. Thirty-one percent believed student ratings contribute to a lessening of rigor in law school classes.

The article concludes that some universities place undue weight on student ratings in light of their biases and negative effects. It recommends that teaching be evaluated holistically through such means as peer classroom visits and teaching portfolios.

Keywords: Student ratings, evaluations, teaching legal writing, instructors, professors, faculty, teaching, university, college, personnel, law school, survey, bias, grades, negative effects, consumer, grade inflation, rigor, peer evaluation, teaching portfolio

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., Implications of Recent Research on Student Evaluations of Teaching. ; University of Louisville School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2007-20. Available at SSRN:

Judith D. Fischer (Contact Author)

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law ( email )

Wilson W. Wyatt Hall
Louisville, KY 40292
United States

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