Thursday, January 04, 2007


Over the last few weeks, I have polled readers on three issues. Only a handful of readers responded so who knows what the “truth” is. Still, for those interested, here are the results.

Issue 1

Is there a market for easy tenure review letters?
Thirty-two people responded. Twenty-one answered “yes.” Three answered “no.” The rest had no opinion or checked a box that was not responsive. I found the result surprising. I thought law professors would answer defensively and claim that tenure and review processes were “clean.” They did not. What do you make of a profession that has no front end evaluation of scholarship, no back end evaluation, and hands out life time annuities to mostly already privileged people.

Issue 2

Do you use multiple choice questions on law school final exams?

Thirty people responded. Thirteen use no multiple choice. Twelve use them for less than half of the total grade, four for less than half, and one person for the entire final. These numbers may overstate the number of multiple choice users because I was really only interested in whether people used machine gradable multiple choice. The text of the post made that clear but the actual poll question may not have.

Some commentators defended their use of multiple choice saying there are different “learning styles.” That my be true but the only learning style it makes sense, to me at least, to test is that which is most closely related to reasoning through complex situations. I am not convinced that machine gradable multiple choice question do that.

Issue 3

This question was more complicated. It was an assessment law school health. Only 23 people responded and there is no guarantee that 23 different law schools are represented. Ten ranked their law schools as, well, pretty awful places. Another 4 placed their law schools just a notch up from awful. You would have to look at the post to get a flavor of what “awful” means.

What does any of this mean? The low numbers are disappointing. Let's hope they are not representative.

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