In recent years, a number of prominent political commentators have
raised concerns about the lack of ideological diversity on college
campuses (Shapiro 2004; Black 2004; Kors and Silvergate 1999; Kimball 1998). Among
other accusations, they claim that liberal college professors may actually
penalize students for expressing conservative opinions by assigning them
lower marks on exams and assignments (Horowitz 2003; Hebel 2004). Their
concern is not without merit. Researchers have found that, when evaluating
a colleague's research, college professors are more critical of work
that contradicts their own views (Mahoney 1977).
It is logical to assume that the same bias influences professors'
evaluations of students' arguments. It is also reasonable to expect
that students, charged with the important task of evaluating their
professors, are vulnerable to their own ideological biases. a
a We thank Markus Kemmelmeier and Janet M.
Box-Steffensmeier for their helpful suggestions and valuable guidance. We
also acknowledge the valuable support of research assistants Jessica
Defenderfer, Cristina Ciocirlan, and Kathleen Winters. Finally, we would
like to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the dozens of political science
faculty throughout the country who took the time to distribute our survey
to their undergraduate students. This project would not have been possible
without their generous assistance. This research was funded through a
Faculty Research Grant from Elizabethtown College.