Friday, December 29, 2017
Because the week between Christmas and New Years is typically slow for legal education news, I am going to discuss the best legal education articles from 2017. Several articles in the past year showed the effectiveness of new approaches to legal education. There have also been several excellent articles this year on professional identity development. Finally, measuring outcomes was an important area of research in 2017.
- Louis D. Bilionis (Cincinnati), Bringing Purposefulness to the American Law School's Support of Professional Identity Formation. In February, the Holloran Center at the University of St. Thomas School of Law held a conference entitled The Next Steps of a Professional Formation Social Movement. In his contribution to the conference, Dean Bilionis declared that there needs to be a new mindset on the part of law schools, professors, and other law school professionals to properly help law students develop their professional identities.
- Hillary Burgess (Charlotte, Appalachian), Beyond Learning Objectives: Overview of The Taxonomy of Cognitive Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements. This is the best article I have seen on learning objectives, assessment objectives, and outcome measurements. Professor Burgess has adopted Bloom's Taxonomy to legal education.
- Jennifer M. Cooper (Tulane) & Regan A. R. Gerung (Wisconsin-Green Bay), Smarter Law Study Habits: An Empirical Analysis of Law Learning Strategies and Relationship with Law GPA. "Both legal educators and law students need to incorporate testing and formative assessment as a study and learning strategy to learn each new topic, not just exam prep. Self-testing and formative assessment are not only critical for success in law school, but help students develop successful learning strategies for the bar exam and as lifelong learners in law practice."
- Heather Field (Hastings), Fostering Ethical Professional Identity in Tax: Using the Traditional Tax Classroom. Professor Heather Field has written an excellent article that explains how to help future tax lawyers develop their professional identities.
- Neil W. Hamilton (St. Thomas), The Next Steps of a Formation-of-Student-Professional Identity Social Movement: Building Bridges Among the Three Key Stakeholders – Faculty and Staff, Students, and Legal Employers and Clients. "The major challenge for this symposium on next steps for the formation-of-student-professional-identity social movement is how substantially to increase the number of law students nationally who experience required professional-identity curriculum."
- Peter H. Huang (Colorado), Adventures in Higher Education, Happiness, and Mindfulness. "This Article analyzes why law schools should teach law students about happiness and mindfulness. This Article discusses how to teach law students about happiness and mindfulness. Finally, this Article provides brief concluding thoughts about how law students can sustain happiness and mindfulness once they graduate from law school."
- Benjamin V. Madison III and Larry O. Natt Gantt, II (Regent), Self-Directedness and Professional Formation: Connecting Two Critical Concepts in Legal Education. "Students want meaningful employment. Nevertheless, many if not most have not recognized the need to make a plan to pursue such employment. Most students have not identified the areas of law that best match their strengths and values. Moreover, most students do not have an intentional plan for exploring roles in the legal profession that would match their strengths, values, and interests. . . The authors explore how law schools can help students in seeking their goal by cultivating self-direction and development of a plan to move toward their goal."
- Deborah Jones Merritt, Ruth Colker, Ellen E. Deason, Monte Smith and Abigail B. Shoben, Formative Assessments: A Law School Case Study. Students who chose formative feedback "achieved significantly higher grades on the final exam even though the assessment score did not factor into their course grade. Notably, students receiving this formative feedback also secured a significantly higher GPA in their other spring-semester classes. Both of these effects persisted after controlling for LSAT score, UGPA, gender, race, and fall-semester grades.
- Louis N. Schulze Jr. (FIU), Using Science to Build Better Learners: One School's Successful Efforts to Raise Its Bar Passage Rates in an Era of Decline. "In this essay, I discuss principles from the science of learning that law schools and students should embrace. In the context of the methods we have implemented at Florida International University College of Law, which had the highest bar passage rate in Florida for three consecutive exams, I detail the project of transforming the learning of law away from the ineffective methods of yore and towards effective strategies that can make a difference on student performance and bar passage."
- William M. Sullivan (lead author of Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law), Professional Formation as Social Movement. The Sullivan article may be the most important article on legal education I've read in the past few years. Its thesis is revolutionary: Law schools not only need to include professional identity formation in the curriculum, they need to frame the curriculum around it. This would indeed be a disruptive innovation, which would create a 21st-century approach to legal education.
- David I.C. Thomson (Denver) and Stephen Daniels (American Bar Foundation), If You Build it, They Will Come: What Students Say About Experiential Learning. "What we learned was that applicants chose Denver Law on several traditional factors (such as cost and location) but also strongly indicated that the experiential learning component was an important part of their decision."