The Use and Effects of Student Ratings in Legal Writing Courses: A Plea for Holistic Evaluation of Teaching

Journal of the Legal Writing Institute, Vol. 10, No. 111, 2004

51 Pages Posted: 14 May 2007 Last revised: 9 Dec 2012

Judith D. Fischer

University of Louisville - Louis D. Brandeis School of Law

Abstract

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.

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: K10

Suggested Citation

Fischer, Judith D., The Use and Effects of Student Ratings in Legal Writing Courses: A Plea for Holistic Evaluation of Teaching. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=985679

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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