July 19, 2006
Is there a correlation between scholarly productivity and teaching effectiveness?
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

That is the question Benjamin Barton examined in his empirical study. Ben wanted to provide data related to the age-old debate in law schools between those who say that productive scholars make the most effective teachers and those who disagree. His study covered 623 professors at 19 American law schools. In his study, he looked at the correlation between a person’s scores related to overall effectiveness based on four years of student evaluations and a person’s scholarly productivity, measured in a variety of different ways. He explained that while there may be some debate about whether using student evaluations to reflect a teacher’s effectiveness was the best measurement of a teacher’s performance, procedurally such evaluations were the best available data on the issue, and substantively, there were several studies suggesting a strong correlation between a person’s student evaluations and other peer evaluations. Thus, he felt that the use of student evaluations was an appropriate yardstick for a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom. Ultimately, his study found no correlation. In other words, scholarship productivity is not related positively or negatively to teaching effectiveness. It was an answer that satisfied no one. And hence the debate continues.

The study can be found at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=913421.

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» Teaching vs. Scholarship: This time, with data! from PrawfsBlawg ...
"Those of you interested in the perennial discussion about the relationship between teaching and scho ..." [more] (Tracked on July 25, 2006 @ 12:56)
Comments (7)

1. Posted by Jake on July 19, 2006 @ 20:23 | Permalink

The notion that law student teaching evaluations have any content that can be mined so as to draw "empirical" conclusions is laughable.

2. Posted by Gordon Smith on July 19, 2006 @ 21:47 | Permalink

Teaching and scholarship are very different activities. There may be some overlap, to be sure, but neither is essential to the other.

When I entered academe, a friend told me that teaching is to a legal scholar as hitting is to a major league pitcher: it's nice if you can do it, but ...

A soft version of this attitude is embedded in the standards for tenure at the University of Wisconsin:

"Research, teaching, and service collectively encompass the diversity of activities essential for all faculty.... Demonstrated excellence in at least two of the three areas, one of which must be research, is normally required."

3. Posted by anon on July 22, 2006 @ 19:13 | Permalink

I wonder about selection bias. Suppose those who are both good teachers and scholars in fact are highly valued in the legal profession. Suppose also that these types of teacher/scholars tend to migrate to higher ranked schools (top 10 schools). This would mean that looking at primarily non-top 10 schools (which I think the study does) would systematically understate any positive correlation between good teaching and good scholarship.

Of course, I might be wrong (or I might be right). But the point is that the study does not seem to control for this possible bias. So it's a lingering possibility (actually I think probability) that is not ruled out in the study.

4. Posted by Cliff on December 28, 2006 @ 18:19 | Permalink

"When I entered academe, a friend told me that teaching is to a legal scholar as hitting is to a major league pitcher: it's nice if you can do it, but ..."

From my perspective, teaching and scholarship are very different activities. I also recognize that academic institutions thrive on research. I suppose that is the nature of our market economy.

As a student, however, nothing frustrates me more than an accomplished scholar posing as a teacher in a class that I paid a couple thousand dollars to attend. Sure, such a person may be a genius, and he/she may have a lot to offer, IF he/she can ever figure out how to get it across, but in the meantime, the result feels like little more than a waste of my time and money.

"The notion that law student teaching evaluations have any content that can be mined so as to draw "empirical" conclusions is laughable."

That appears to be a bit of an overstatement if you ask me. Law students my just be students, and they certainly have their biases, but we also recognize when the emperor is missing his clothes, and most of us can articulate that fact rather clearly.

5. Posted by EDUARDO COCCA on September 16, 2007 @ 10:00 | Permalink

37,500 per cent profit in medicines in Argentina

As a Professor of Kennedy University, I used to teach five different subjects there. Among those subjects, I gave lessons in "Pharmaceutical Practise and Administration" to more than fifty excellent students who were avid to learn. And my task was not only to teach my students Pharmaceutical Legislation but to show them how this activity works in comercial terms. As a research project, the class had to look for all the possible information about a product called "nafazolina". These drops for nasal decongestion we had chosen at random, have been on the market for more than forty years. Having consulted the most important drugs provider, we found that this medicine is bought for as little as 0,03cents a bottle and sold to the public for the price of 11,25 pesos, which means the profit from the sales is around 37,500per cent the unit. This has nothing to do with a licit activity, of course.
The last 5th June, I attended an "Etics and Medicine" Conference held at the Chamber of Deputies of the Nation. Representatives of Legislature, Trade Union and even the Pharmaceutical Chamber, that apparently hadn´t been invited, attended it.
Once the Conference had finished, we were invited to give our ideas about the subject. I have strong opinions about the Pharmaceutical Industry. These people are making handsome profits every day while the rest, especially children, are dying because they can't afford medicines. The State ought to do something about the matter, but is doing nothing.
The answer to my words didn't take long. Mr Capon Filas, Dean of Kennedy University and Ms Magariños, Director of the Pharmaceutical Chamber, gave me a hard and cutting speech and made me resign. I lost the Pharmacy department and the other three departments as well. They were preventing me from talking and although I don't regret what I have done, I can't stand being part of a thing like that.

Curiosly, my last salary -bonus included - was 231 pesos.

Yours sincerely,
Professor Cocca
[email protected]

6. Posted by EDUARDO COCCA on September 22, 2007 @ 17:01 | Permalink


Dr. : Rodolfo Capón Filas [email protected]

Farmacéutica : Maria del Carmen Magariños

[email protected]

Dra. María Elisa Herren de David [email protected]

7. Posted by dentist Bentleigh East emergency dentist on March 26, 2012 @ 2:33 | Permalink

We must focus on teaching effectiveness even if it costs an extra buck off our earnings. The youth of tomorrow must be well educated.

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