I am writing to you about a matter that is extremely important to the Law School’s efforts to provide the best possible teaching.
Recently you received an e-mail message from the Office of Records and Registration regarding faculty and course evaluations. As most of you know, we have been taking steps to improve the student response rate to evaluations. While we have seen improvement each semester, we still need to do much better.
Teaching evaluations are an essential part of the Law School’s efforts to recruit and promote only professors who are very good teachers. I have been on this faculty for more than two decades and I can attest that the issue of teaching quality comes up in every hiring or promotion decision that the faculty makes. And appropriately so. But if the evaluation response rate is low, we compromise the most important part of the information we need to evaluate teaching — the perspective of the students.
Teaching evaluations also provide extremely valuable feedback information for even the most seasoned teacher. No two classes are the same; each year most teachers try something different, in an ongoing effort to improve their teaching. With no reliable information coming back from the students, teachers are unable to assess whether the innovations have been for the better or worse.
So we need you to fill out the course evaluation surveys. I hope that each of you will view the filling out of the survey as your responsibility as a member of the Law School community.
We believe that the best way to ensure compliance is for all students in a class to fill out the online survey at the same time. To this end, we require all instructors to set aside the first ten minutes of the first session of their class during the penultimate week of classes.
Please make sure that you have your laptop with you at the designated time.
For the last few years, we have made all student comments available on-line. With this development comes new responsibility. Needless to say, your comments should relate only to the instructor’s teaching and the content of the course. In order to ensure that inappropriate comments do not appear online, we have a review process in which an instructor who is concerned about particular comments can raise the matter with the SBA President and me. Comments will only be edited with the consent of the President of the SBA and only on the ground that they are inappropriate because irrelevant to the content or teaching of the course.
Many thanks, and best wishes,