Evidence 2008 Course Evaluations

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This is a summary as originally addressed to Charlie. Imeister 10:52, 13 March 2008 (EDT)

About a third of the class absolutely loved the course, especially you as the instructor; about half really enjoyed the class but had (at worst) minor misgivings about organization, clarity, some aspects of the format, or a combination; and a small remainder didn't take to the openness of the course style, pointing to too little discussions of the rules of evidence and too many tangents. Minor organizational re-works would probably eliminate the majority of the reservations the students expressed.

Instructor

First off, the evaluations are overwhelmingly positive about you as an instructor. Half the evaluations gave you no neutral or negative ratings whatsoever, and well under half of students gave you a negative rating in any category. A little less than a third of the class (14 of 48) principally found you unclear. There is a small minority (7 students) who found you critical of alternate points of view, and those tended to be students who didn't fill out any manuscript comments (5 students didn't and 2 did).

Substance

How students felt about the course substance mirrors how they evaluated you as an instructor, and a little under half of the class (20 of 48) gave you no neutral or negative ratings. 13 of 48 students cited case analysis as an issue; 10 thought so about interpreting statutes and regulations; 9 thought so about drafting legal documents. Almost everyone found the institutional design and doctrine-theory instruction excellent.

Materials

Course materials also show a general positivity. 23 of 48 students liked the course materials as a whole, but just over a third (17 of 48) didn't think materials were as well organized as they could be; just under a third (14 of 48) didn't find the materials appropriately relevant.

Written comments

Written comments tended to be very positive, with one or two outliers. Over half of the 14 people who made general comments praised how you used multimedia (especially movies), and multiple people praised your use of guests, real-life examples, and out-of-the-box thinking ("incentivizing originality, creativity, and multiple points of view").

Organization and clarity are the only things people really asked to be improved (6 of 13 responding); people who felt negatively used the space to ask for more "emphasis on rules" and "irrelevant tangents" (5 of 13). Only 2 of 16 people who responded said they wouldn't recommend your course ("not for everyone"); 6 of 16 drove home the point, calling it the best class they've taken at HLS, a breath of fresh air, and focusing on what matters.

7 of 11 people used the "other" space specifically to praise and thank you, although one person found your exam "ridiculous" and another cited "consulting with the tech people" to devise a smoother way to integrate Second Life into the course.

Exemplars

3 people completely broke the mould and wrote their comments over multiple spaces. I'm excerpting them so you can read them yourself, because I think they do a good job of demonstrating the breakup of class opinion, as near as I can read it:

Slim majority: "He is passionate, funny, laidback, wise, and incredibly approachable. He is a wonderful professor."

Vocal plurality: "This is the best course I have taken at HLS. All courses should be taught this way. Prof. Nesson created a comfortable classroom ripe for intellectual conversation."

Discontented minority: "Liked the experimental aspects of the class, but felt they took up too much time. I really did not feel that I learned any evidence. A little bit, but not enough to be prepared for court. Professor was very inspirational issues. [On recommendations:] No if you want to learn Evidence. Yes, if you want to hear about interesting/inspirational issues."