The Black Box of Student Evaluation: Course Participation

Noam Ebner
Creighton University School of Law – Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution

Yael Efron
Zefat Academic College – School of Law; Hebrew University – Faculty of Law


In N. Ebner, J. Coben & C. Honeyman (Eds.), Assessing our Students, Assessing Ourselves: Vol.3 in the Rethinking Negotiation Teaching Series. St Paul, MN: DRI Press, 2012


Course participation is definitely at the «subjective» end of the subjective-to-objective scale of possible assessment methods. It may be surprising, therefore, that so subjective a measure is almost universally a part of negotiation teachers’ assessment methods. Ebner and Efron conclude, however, that just because a method is widely used does not mean it is used effectively. Indeed they find, in surveying colleagues, a startling vagueness at the heart of current use. Picking apart their own prior practice, they discover that they themselves have used course participation in grading in ways that do not survive close examination. From these discoveries they proceed to analyze problems that seem inherent in the method, some of which appear daunting. They modestly conclude that to define «best practices» would be premature. As a step toward greater intellectual rigor and future development, however, Ebner and Efron propose five questions which any teacher interested in rethinking the use of course participation might profitably ask.

The Black Box of Student Evaluation- Course Participation

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