Thursday, August 2, 2018
Laura Padilla (California Western), Whoosh — Declining Law School Applications and Entering Credentials: Responding with Pivot Pedagogy, 39 U. La Verne L. Rev. 1 (2017):
Whoosh — that is the sound when the number of law school applications and entering law students and the credentials of those students, decline all at once. This trend has continued for many years, however, given the cyclical nature of law school applications, it will likely reverse eventually and credentials will improve, but not overnight. The first part of the article briefly discusses the decline in law school applicants and applications, including the confluence of perfect storm factors that resulted in more of the crash landing we experienced than a gradual drop. It also details the corresponding drop in entering credentials which accompanied that decline. The article focuses on what we can do as law professors in response to these declines to better equip students for success in law school, the bar examination and practice.
The second part describes a range of responses to the storm: panic, paralysis, or pivot. While recognizing there is no single solution and certainly no perfect solution, pivoting seemed the only viable option and certainly the most effective. Pivot pedagogy is essentially a package of ideas to respond to declining applications, applicants, and entering statistics with the goal of improving student performance across the board, especially students with lower entering credentials. This part then details my classroom experiences and experiments with pivot pedagogy over the past two years, including empirical data. It closes with a plea for continued pivot pedagogy as a tool to engage students and improve performance.