Deborah Merritt has written a very interesting article about student teaching evaluations. Deborah J. Merritt BIAS, THE BRAIN, AND STUDENT EVALUATIONS OF TEACHING 82 St. John’s L. Rev. 235. I have commented on it over on Moneylaw. An element of the article I did not discuss there deals with the impact of class on evaluations. Merritt suggests that race, gender and class can have an impact on student evaluations. Merritt first notes experiments in which frustrated drivers are more likely to “honk” at older beat up cars. These type of cars are stereotypically associated with lower classes. Then she writes:
My own perspective is very limited because like every other professor I have seen very few other law professors teach. Still I have a hunch that the class distinctions are not made merely by virtue of non verbal cues. The cues come in the form of making sure the students know the professor attended an elite law school, worked for a prestigious law firm, clerked for a well known judge or simple name dropping.