Almost No Correlation between Scholarship Production and Teaching Effectiveness

I hesitated to post this now because I really want to see some creative feedback on the previous post from Carolyn Grose! Please DO RESPOND to Carolyn’s excellent post.   

However, this was simply TOO good to wait to share – here’s some news from the TAXLAW BLOG that confirms what Best Practices has been “preaching”!

Barton: No Correlation Between Scholarly Productivity/Influence and Teaching Effectiveness
Benjamin Barton (Tennessee) has published Is There a Correlation Between Law Professor Publication Counts, Law Review Citation Counts, and Teaching Evaluations? An Empirical Study, 5 J. Empirical Stud. 619 (2008). Here is the abstract:
This empirical study attempts to answer an age-old debate in legal academia: whether scholarly productivity helps or hurts teaching. The study is of an unprecedented size and scope. It covers every tenured or tenure-track faculty member at 19 U.S. law schools, a total of 623 professors. The study gathers four years of teaching evaluation data (calendar years 2000-2003) and tests for associations between the teaching data and five different measures of research productivity/scholarly influence. The results are counterintuitive: there is either no correlation or a slight positive correlation between teaching effectiveness and any of the five measures of research productivity. Given the breadth of the study, this finding is quite robust. These findings should help inform debates about teaching and scholarship among law school and other faculties and likely require some soul-searching about the interaction between the two most important functions of U.S. law schools.
hmmmm,  we ARE too mature for “I told you so” aren’t we?



4 Responses

  1. HMMM…This is definitely counter intuitive. I definitely feel that when I am teaching in an area involving an area of my research that I am a much better teacher. I think the trick is to try to connect your teaching and scholarship so that they complement each other and one does not serve as a distraction to the other.

  2. I agree! Scholarship pusuits and teaching effectiveness improvement should be “synergetic” not opposing efforts. However, if teaching is viewed as the “drudgery” – the “have to” in the job – and scholarship the only “true intellectual pursuit” then, I think, we get the results shown in this study.

  3. […] Law Review Citation Counts, and Teaching Evaluations?” (HT this time to the TaxProf Blog, via Best Practices for Legal Education.) Barton’s comprehensive study calls into serious question law schools’ penchant for […]

  4. A different perspective: some suggest that the skills needed for research and teaching are at odds, implying that the best teachers often aren’t good scholars. Certainly we all know examples of the great teacher denied tenure. But this study seems to suggest that teaching and scholarship aren’t at odds.

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