By Eagleionline Editorial Board
November 16, 2007
On Wednesday, Deans Cassidy and Wiley emailed the student body with a notice regarding course evaluations. In the email, they threatened to withhold early access to grades if students failed to complete the course evaluations. Here is a relevant portion of the email:
This semester, and following the policy that is in place at all other schools and colleges at BC, course evaluations for all your courses must be completed in order for you to view your grades as they are entered. If you have not completed your evaluations, your grades will not be available to you and viewable via Agora until the law school deadline for submission of grades, which this semester is January 22.
The deans failed to note, however, that course evaluations are not made available to the student body.
Contrary to this second, unstated, policy, we understand that some faculty members support some type of data sharing with students. We sympathize with these individuals, and share their hopes.
However, we feel that those who categorically deny all type of data sharing have failed, so far, to provide an adequate rationale for their position. Some have hinted, for example, that there is some statutory basis for a refusal to share data. If that is the case, then let the statute be cited, for we would never ask the faculty or administration to controvert any rule that they themselves did not enact. Others might say that releasing such data will unduly influence incoming first-year students who have no choice in selecting courses or professors. This, though, does not explain why data from upper-level courses are not released.
Course evaluation data are an essential tool for students. And as we noted last spring, providing student access to course evaluations is not without precedent. Indeed, BC Law is the only law school in the Boston area that does not provide students access to course evaluations. Harvard Law’s course evaluation link is here, BU Law’s is here, Suffolk Law keeps its course evaluations on permanent reserve in the their library here, and Northeastern Law does the same here.
Hence, last semester we decided to implement a course evaluations process ourselves, which can be accessed here. By virtually all accounts, the evaluations were a success and illustrated the overwhelming student demand for such a service. And because the law school administration continues to take the quixotic stand against releasing data that we fill out, we are once again conducting our own course evaluations and releasing the data to the student body.
In the end, the law school’s newly attached penalties for many students’ principled decision not to fill out course evaluations unless and until they have a direct, tangible stake in the data, the school has imposed more detriment on the student side of the balance while offering nothing in return. We find it curious that the law school is penalizing students for failure to complete evaluations when students are unable to utilize the same data for their benefit in selecting courses.
Eagleionline Question of the Day: Are the sanctions for failing to complete course evaluations justified?
[Editor’s Note: The following comments were made anonymously on Eagleionline’s previous site. They are included here for historical purposes only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Eagleionline or any members thereof.]