Best Practices and Student Evaluations

Have you noticed an improvement in student evaluations of your teaching after implementing recommendations from the Best Practices book? I did.
I generally received high marks from students, but they became even higher once I began embracing more principles of best practices. I think what helped more than anything was that I began to truly embrace the concept of student-centered teaching. For example, I began making time to learn things about my students’ lives outside of the law building. This had two impacts. First, students viewed me as being more concerned about them as people, not just as students. Second, I became more tolerant of some student behaviors, including the student who sometimes fell asleep during my 9 AM Monday class. I knew she was a divorced mother of a high school student who was working her way through law school as a nurse. She worked the Sunday night shift. When she fell asleep, the other students and I let her rest.

2 Responses

  1. We so often overlook the importance of connecting with students as people when it comes to student rankings of instruction. But it should come as no surprise to us when we look at the literature outside legal education. For example, we know that when patients believe that their doctors care about them and are working hard on their behalf, they are much less likely to sue for malpractice, even for fairly obvious mistakes. Student rankings of instruction might not tell us a lot about how much students are actually learning, but it does tell us volumes about how much we are connecting with them, which is a basic prerequisite for learning.

  2. Wow. That really is heart warming. As a law student, I wish more profs embraced student centered teaching! Thanks.

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