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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