Paul L. Caron

Monday, June 13, 2022

Making Law Student Evaluations More Meaningful

LawProfBlawg (Anonymous Professor, Top 100 Law School), Making Student Evaluations More Meaningful:

Four years ago, I wrote a series of pieces about how student evaluations did not yield meaningful data. Worse, the data they did yield were used to disproportionately attack women and minorities. This should have come as no shock because all the evidence suggests that student evaluations are biased against women and minorities. It’s the circle of … well, something.

The literature suggests that teaching evaluations are deeply, deeply troubled measures of professor teaching skills. They ought to be done away with. But I’m not optimistic. Universities employ experts in using surveys. Yet they continue to use flawed ones. And as universities seek to measure more “stuff” regardless of the precision of those measures, student evaluations are here to stay. So, it’s worth a moment envisioning how to make them less troubling. ...

It’s not one thing. It’s not just how administrations weaponize student evaluations that is flawed. It’s now just how the data from the evaluations is measured that is flawed. And it’s not just how the evaluations themselves are flawed. It is a combination of ills that produce the results. We ought to be more deliberate in how we use evaluations as tools to facilitate learning and stop using them as weapons.

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