Want better student evaluations?

uvabuilding.jpgI read an advertisement for the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business Administration in the US Airways magazine recently, headlined “The best professors in the World don’t like hearing themselves speak.” The advertisement continued, “To develop great communicators and leaders we ask students to, quite simply, communicate and lead. That’s why Darden professors spend the least amount of time lecturing of any of the top MBA programs. We believe this is one reason the Princeton Review ranked our professors the #2 teaching faculty in the nation.”

So, to improve teaching scores, talk less. Hmm, something to think about as I prepare for class today.

Perhaps I should file that under the important lessons I learned while sitting on an airplane. Of course, I might also have learned it from Ben Stein‘s monologue in the 1980s movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the — anyone? Anyone? — the Great Depression, passed the — anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which — anyone? Raised or lowered? … raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work — anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression.

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6 Responses

  1. John Jenkins says:

    If you really want to improve legal education, when you’ve called on someone who is deeply unprepared and incapable of answering the qestion, don’t waste time torturing them (and the rest of the class). Just move on to someone else who might be able to answer the question. That’s my biggest complaint in law school: when the professor calls on some ass who clearly doesn’t care and will just be happy as a lark with a C- and just bogs everything else down by not going on.

  2. Tomas Gomez says:

    Or, when you call on someone who is unprepared, you can use the line one of my professors used to use: “Maybe you should re-read it….or….read it.” Then move on. 🙂

  3. joe says:

    Two things.

    1) The worst thing any lecturer can do is start class by saying that we will be ending early, and then proceed to drone on for entire class. If a law professor had clients, he would know it’s all about setting (and meeting) expectations.

    2) The Socratic method is bogus and a waste of time, particularly for sophisticated students who already know how to discuss and debate. Maybe it’s useful to scare some unprepared 21-year olds. But that’s about it.

  4. Mike says:

    Teaching a large classroom is undeniably public speaking, though many professors seem to think it’s something else. Indeed, certain law professors are regularly invited to debate or give speeches at other law schools. I suspect those same professors receive high student evaluation rankings.

    Good public speakers try to have a conversation (pretentiously called a “horizontal dialogue”) with people. People like being talked to, rather than being talked at. I hope no one is surprised by this finding, which applies to other forms of speaking.

    Wasn’t it said of John Roberts that as an oral advocate, he didn’t lecture anyone, but instead treated every oral argument as a conversation? And aren’t the best trial lawyers those who, to the extent possible, treat juries like they’re part of the conversation?

    Maybe professors would benefit from a course in a public speaking. Maybe the secret to being a good classroom professor is no secret it at all: good professors are just good public speakers.

  5. Miana Lewis says:

    WoW!!! nice nice one..hhehe bye later may God be with u.

    peace out!

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