1981 Spring: Leon Letwin, Evidence Class, Student Evaluations

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Student Evaluation of Leon Letwin

Evidence Materials, Spring 1981

June 8, 1981

As part of the student evaluation of course and instructor

in my Spring ’81 Evidence course,· I asked the students to

comment on the teaching materials. In particular, I asked

a) whether they would have preferred a standard

case book to my materials;

b) that I used more cases in my materials;

. c) more textual, explanatory notes of the kind

now found in·my materials; and

d) more Suggested Solutions to the Problems

I present.

Below are all the student comments. Of the 91 students in

the course, 68. responded to my ques.tions about the teaching


I should mention that the student evaluations are prepared

in class in the presence of proctors but in the absence of the

instructor. The answer fopms are strictly anonymous.

·sUnirlla:ry ·o·f ·c·omme!it s .

1) Of the 68 respondents, only 1 stated a preference for a

traditional casebook; all the others preferred, with varying

degrees of enthusiasm, the format I employed.

2) There was little sentiment for more cases.

3) There was very strong sentiment for more textual, explanatory

material of the type now employed.

4) Ther~ was considerable sentiment, but not as much as in

(3), for ·more Suggested Solutions.

My coric’ltis’ions.

1) The material was w~ll received.

2) I need more textual notes and more Suggested Solutions.

(I am now working in both these areas.)

3) While I am very pleased with the student views about my

teaching materials–they tend to be critical and frank in such

evaluations–! think the following caution is in order. These

are materials of my design. By definition, everything is important,

and I know why it’s there. There is, therefore, little

tension between my teaching aims and the material employed. Put

another way, I have none of the discomfort with the material

that can arise when one is using someone else’s book. Being at


. , 2

peace with the materials one is using· ought to translate into

a more effective teaching experience for the students. The

fact, however, that the materials work well for me is no proof

that they will work equally well for someone with a different

perspective or different interests than mine. What is hard to

figure out is the degree to which the apparent success of the

materials is a tribute to their quality or simply the result

of the fact that I’m in synch with the format.

.. 3

· “Student Comments (Verbatim)

Re: text

(1) Your text is excellent. In my opinion it would be a big

mistake to go to a traditional casebook.

(2) Case v. problem mix is good.

(3) Explanatory notes are also about right.

(4) A few more answers would be desirable.

I can’t understand why you don’t officially publish it and make it

into your own “casebook.” It is. heads and tails above all other

casebooks I have had in this school.

Your materials are much better than a casebook.

Don’t add any more cases.

More explanatory notes would be helpful.

Some more suggested solutions would be helpful.

The text materials are excellent.

Quite a Herculean production to write his·own text. Obviously puts

more effort into teaching than most. Would like to see more

explanatory notes, but the sugg. solutions are just right (don’t

want to answer· ·all Q’ s with the book).

The text was probably the most enjoyable that I’ve had yet in law

school. I like the # of cases included–it leads to more participative

learning. More explanatory notes and suggested solutions would

be nice, mainly because they’re so helpful.

The use of instructor’s “book” is good. HAVE PRACTICAL PROBLEM is

a much better way to learn. But to learn this way it is necessary

that the student pick up all comments that are made in class. If .

the student is unable he is out of luck. I suggest more supplementary

notes as well as suggested answers. This will at least give the

student an alternative method of learning or making up what he missed

in class.

I’d like more cases and more explanatory notes. But I like the format.

Thought that the format was very good. Keep the materials; more

interesting than a casebook. Cases, however, were somewhat helpful.

I like this approach to materials–rather than a standard casebook.

Maybe· mo’re explan. notes & sugg’d solutions.


Re. material – I really liked the problem approach. Perhaps a little

more introductory notes would be good.

NO on casebook.

NO on more cases.

YES on more explanatory notes.

YES on more sug. sol.

I don’t think a casebook will do anything more than confuse us. I

don’t think we’d have time for more ·cases. The material seems to be

well-organized–yes, I’d like more suggested solutions. Frankly, I

don’t know how to evaluate this course. I’m studying the course

materials, but wondering if I’m missing something.

Couldn’t be better.

More explanatory notes in book–otherwise it’s good. Questions

should be improved. ·

Should focus more on Fed. Code, less on Calif. in the answers where

codes conflict. Bar tests Fed.

More suggested solutions, more explanatory notes, but definitely

keep the materials–more emphasis earlier on Fed. rules.

Text materials are okay–in general fewer cases and more explanatory

notes would be helpful. Possibly further suggested solutions also.

Would prefer a conventional text.

” “

11 better cross-referencing of CEC to FRE.

As for the materials: They are great as is. I know we don’t need

a casebook. I think tre case level is just about right. The number

of explanatory notes is good. More suggested solutions are not

necessary. Class discussion work is better to answer questions.

Casebook – NO–your materials were excellent.

More Cases – Not particularly.

More Notes – Excellent–add any notes of similar quality.

Solution Sets – Yes–key probs. that reflect how to think about

different probs.–In contrast- see, e.g., § 787() is not

that helpful.


Much prefer this type of book. Cases would add little to my understanding

but keep the ones you have; they’re helpful. Combined with

consist·ent class attendance the notes and suggested solutions· are

more than adequate; if people complain, it’s only because they

haven’t attended class enough. (Although a little explanatory

material where you have almost none & go ·right to questions would

be good unless you expand in that type of chapter in the suggested


Casebook – No. Use yo·uf materials. BUT you must write more careful ·

questions. Some o them are sloppy in their details or

phrasing & obscure the point. Just go through them again.

No more cases – fine as is.

Definitely more explanatory notes, especially on hearsay. Dump Tribt:.

Yes, more suggested solutions. Good course for something like

Evidence & you’re a good man.

The material was ·¥·ood. The problems were very effective, well thought

out–much more ef ective than the cases.

Additional cases and explanatory materials could add more depth to

some chapters.

Re casebook: No. Is not a practical option for a subject like


Re cases: No. Again, cases are not as useful in a subject like


Re Explanatory Notes: Yes, more would be appreciated.

Re Suggested Solutions: Fine as they are.

The problems make the course very interesting. Better not to have

a lot of suggested solutions. Don’t need more explanatory notes.

I like the materials but have nothing to compare them to. I don’t

think more cases are needed in it–Evidence can’t be taught via

cases. More suggested solutions would be good.

I like the class ·materials; my only suggestion would be to expand

the explanatory notes of the statutes. Your class lectures are a

bit too thorough. I would think less time should be spent in hashing

out the rationale, or lack thereof, behind a statutory rule.

I would not want your materials exchanged for a textbook.

A few more-cases would not be a bad idea.

Additional explanatory notes would be great.

Suggested solutions are always helpful.

·. 6

I ~hink the materials are the best part of the course. Maybe a few

more problems would help. These could have solutions at the end

and could be skipped in class discussion.

It was refreshing not to have to read a lot of cases, though I enjoyed

reading the cases we did. The question & answer format is a useful

learning .tool. A few more answers & explanatory notes toward the

beginning might help. Also, I am troubled by the.apparent gap between

evidence theory & practice. I would like to maybe go to ct. to see

how it really works. Or maybe try out some mock trials in class.

I would· like to see more explanatory notes, more suggested solutions,

less open-ended questions.

The materials should not be .bound in metal–! cut my finger.

More textual material in the casebook & more solutions would be


Overall, the instructor did a very good job with a subject that has

the potential to be· very dry. The materials, especially, were quite

good. Indeed, these materials were far superior to having a casebook.

A few more explanatory notes would be good, but overall the book

(& the instructor) were quite commendable.

1) No need for casebook. 2) Case load is fine. As long as concepts

are understood & applicable no need to see examples. 3) More

explanatory notes would help problems. 4) More solutions–as materials


(1) Casebook? No, the materials used are fine.

(2) More cases? No, the right amount.

(3) More explanatory notes? Sure–explanations are always helpful.

(4) More suggested solutions? No strong feeling one way or the other.

I would like to see additional problems in the back of the book for .

use by the student to master the material, particularly for finals.

Like the problems in the text–helpful for grasp of subject–would

like more problems, more commentary, cases adequate, maybe a little

more suggested solutions. Please get this in hardbound sometime.

Regarding the materials: Overall I thought they were very good.

The only thing I would like is more suggested solutions.


The materials are good, but more explanatory comments would be


The materials were basically very good–! would not prefer a

conventional casebook–in fact, the cases which were used were less

helpful than the explanations and problems. More suggested solutions

would be helpful, especially for the latter part of the course

when time constraints forced us to either skip discussion of some

questions without suggested solutions or to discuss them only


I liked material in “casebook.” Should put less cases into “Hearsay

& Cons t’ 1 Connection” chap·ter.

I liked the materials. As I noted above the problem analysis approacn

worked well. Consequently I wouldn’t want more cases. Explanatory

notes might be helpful although I think you covered most of it in

class. Suggested solutions are necessary only if you don’t go to

class. ·

Casebook good. More explanatory notes for direction. Possibly more

solutions–more than just a reference to a statute.

They talk about Lopez & Yeazell being biggies in the classroom, but

this guy is one of the finest classroom performers in the place.

I enjoyed the materials–they were efficient way of getting issues

out & discussed effectively.

Casebook – no.

More cases – no.·

More explanatory notes – yes.

More suggested solutions – no. } The teaching materials are

already an improvement over

typical casebook approach

in my opinion.

Casebook? No–the materials were great, enough cases.

More explanations and questions answered would be helpful.

Like· problem approach. More explanations and solutions would be

helpful. Perhaps a comparison w. C/L· would be good where Calif.

differs since Bar Examiners examine on C/L.

Your course materials are good. I like the questions. More answers

would be nice. Explanatory notes are helpful.

(1) Case book? No.

(2) More cases? No.

(3) More explanatory Notes? No.

(4) More suggestive solutions? Yes.


Book was better than a standard textbook–needs more explanatory


I like the case materials P·rof. Letwip. has prepared. More cases

are not necessary or desirable. Nor are more explanatory notes-sufficient

information is obtained from class. However, more

suggested solutions would be helpfui–so we can work on our own

answers at home and while studying for the exam.

(1) Casebook? I don’t think it would help. (2) More cases? I

don’t think this would help either. (3) More explanatory notes?

Yes–specifically, why not require us to get the commentary on

the FRE–the Calif. explanations are sometimes not clear–another

viewpoint helps–especially since the FRE is on the bar. (4) Sug.

solutions? No–would discourage attendance.

More explanatory notes would be helpful. At times when problems

are discussed in class I am left not knowing which analysis would

probably prevail–thfs would be helpful.

The materials were a much more effective teaching tool than a

case book. Hate cases. A problem approach is better–more sample

test questions would be helpful as would more explanatory notes.

I like this format very much. More explanations would be desirable

as well as more solutions.

Casebook would be worse, fewer cases desired, more explanatory

notes needed, also more suggested solutions would be desirable.

Put more explanatory notes in the present text & keep it.

More explanatory notes and more suggested solutions.

No case book–more sug. soln’s.

I was very satisfied with the text. I wo.uld have liked more

textual explanatory material than was-presented. Sample problems

were very good.

No conventional textbook; the material we used O.K. but could use

more explanatory notes.

.. 9

Materials: I found the materials very helpful and prefer them to

the casebook method. More explanatory notes & suggested solutions

would help.

No casebook.

Few cases.

More explanatory notes.

More suggested solutions.

The materials are great!~ More explanatory notes would help–the

more the merrier. Suggested solutions ~ I’d like more, but then

people.might_not come to class; also might detract from class discussion

because people wouldn’t bother to think up alternate/novel


Materials are generally good–we need fewer cases and more explanatory


Letwin’s “text” was very enjoyable. I think the cases that are in

there are good–perhaps a couple more Calif. cases would be good.

A few areas could use more explanatory material.

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