Greedy Blog

Tuesday, June 03, 2003



 
Still no new grades, but apparently they don't matter. My favorite sections:

In their article on grade normalization, Downs & Levit observe: "A vast amount of research in educational testing theory suggests that the preferred method of testing in law schools is one least recommended by professional educators. A single examination followed by a course grade prevents professors from giving students repeated feedback, which many theorists say is essential to deep learning. A one-shot examination highlights inaccuracies in evaluation that may result from student illness or personal troubles, or imbalances between student coverage and selective testing."

Since I bolded it, I obviously liked the section about "imbalances between student coverage and selective testing. Some may argue that figuring out what the professor will ask is part of the game. In theory, there shouldn't be any game. Any section of a class should be just as testable as the rest of it. While it is unlikely that any of it will be used in real practice, I would say that everything is equally unlikely. Thus, learning a small portion (e.g., just adverse possession in the entire field of real property) has no value, while learning everything broadly (encouraged by the possibility that it will be on the test) has some value.
I actually like this whole paragraph. I have argued for some kind of feedback since day one.

My analogy is hitting on girls at bars. Imagine if you only get to ask a couple out every six months, and either get rejected or digits. Without any kind of feedback, future attempts will be no more successful, given the time lag, the fact that the girls are different, and especially the fact that there is no real chance to change behavior to increase the chance of success. Sure, some things will always make success more likely (nicer clothes, work out more -- study "harder" or "smarter"), but little will guarantee a given outcome.
In undergrad, there was a neverending stream of homework, quizzes, and exams. By the time the final rolls around, everyone should know how to succeed in that subject for that teacher. When the opposite is true, no one knows and the result is really a shot in the dark.

In his article '"Uncivil Procedure: Ranking Law Students Among Their Peers," Douglas Henderson claims that "[j]udged by the standards of established psychometric theory, the law school essay is neither precise nor accurate -- both of which are necessary foundations of validity." Researchers consider the examination process to be a misrepresentation of legal practice because it ignores more complex forms of thinking...

Adding to the internal flaws of examinations, discrepancies in grading are ubiquitous. As Henderson remarks, "The standards in grading law school essay exams vary between professors and between exams graded by a single professor. Little direct evidence is available to show how law professors evaluate examination answers." Henderson elaborates by suggesting that "Law school policy which permits the standards to vary from teacher to teacher causes its evaluation process to be grossly misleading to the public and arbitrarily discriminatory to its students."


I'm not saying that law school grades mean nothing, for I hope to do well and get a high paying job as a result. Obviously, those that spend endless hours in the library will do better than those who spend endless hours at The Library. However, I think the large majority of people who get into schools like UT have good study habits to begin with. If anyone is a random genius, they probably don't need to study anyways.

Posted by Gel 12:18 PM Post a Comment

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