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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

2012 Law School Survey of Student Engagement

LSSSE 2012_Page_01The Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) has released its 2012 Annual Survey Results:

The Law School Survey of Student Engagement focuses on activities that affect learning in law school. The results show how law students use their time, what they think about their experience in law school, and what schools can do to improve engagement and learning.

The selected results reported in this section are based on responses from 25,901 law students at 81 law schools who completed LSSSE in Spring 2012. ...

LSSSE data suggest that students benefit tremendously from their relationships with professors. Our analysis reveals that interaction with faculty relates significantly to students’ perceptions of their own gains in both academic and personal dimensions. Student-faculty interaction influences students’ assessment of their writing, speaking, and legal research skills; jobor work-related knowledge and skills; and critical and analytical thinking, among other factors. In terms of personal development, student-faculty interaction positively relates to students’ understanding of themselves and others, and to their development of a personal code of values and ethics and a sense of contribution to the welfare of the community. Finally, interaction with faculty also relates positively to students’ report of their grades. 

Interaction with faculty not only affects students’ sense of development, it also affects their overall level of satisfaction with law school. LSSSE data show that student-faculty interaction is strongly related to students’ likelihood of choosing the same law school again and of their evaluation of their entire educational experience. Similarly, student-faculty interaction also relates positively to students’ sense of the supportiveness of the law school environment and to their perception of the emphasis their coursework places on higher order learning activities.

Clearly, faculty matter to students. Given the strong benefit to students of these interactions with faculty, it is reassuring to note that LSSSE data do not show significant differences among different groups of students in levels of student-faculty interaction. No significant differences with regard to the amount of interaction with faculty are evident based on students’ race, ethnicity, or gender. While students with lower LSAT scores are slightly less likely to interact with faculty, and students who report higher grades in law school are slightly more likely to interact with faculty, these relationships were small but significant. More influential in terms of faculty interaction are student behaviors (asking questions in class) and activities (moot court and law journal participation, and leading a law school organization), suggesting that students who are more inclined to speak up in class also are more likely to seek out professors to discuss assignments and issues, and those who involve themselves in co-curricular activities may have more opportunities to work with faculty who are advisors. 

Generally, law students report positive relationships with faculty. Nearly half of students (45%) report that their instructors are highly supportive and encouraging. More than a third of students (38%) feel that their professors care about them as individuals. Fifty-seven percent report feeling strongly that faculty respect students.

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