Paul L. Caron

Friday, May 23, 2008

Taylor: Faith in God Hurts Law School Academic Performance

Tax Prof Scott A. Taylor (University of St. Thomas) has posted Spirituality and Academic Performance at a Catholic Law School: An Empirical Study, 45 Cal. W. L. Rev. ___ (2008), on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This empirical study explores whether a student's spirituality affects academic performance during the first year of study at the University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota). A spirituality index measured 1) frequency of attendance at religious worship, 2) frequency of discussion of religion with others from different faith traditions, 3) the presence and strength of the connection between God and morality, and 4) the presence and strength of the view that entry into the legal profession is a divine calling. The spirituality index was correlated with academic performance measured by comparing actual performance and predicted performance (using the LSAT and the student's undergraduate grade point average). Strong spirituality had a negative correlation with academic performance. Medium and low spirituality had no correlation. And among the third of the students who performed substantially under expectations, the negative correlation was more significant than the broader positive correlation of either the LSAT or the undergraduate grade point average. This study is especially interesting and powerful because the University of St. Thomas School of Law has a strong Catholic identity and affirmatively promotes its faith-based mission at all levels of operation. The author discusses possible explanations for his findings that high spirituality correlates negatively with expected academic performance.

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Perhaps all that praying time takes away from studying time.

Posted by: R. Mombrun | May 24, 2008 8:30:29 AM

You might want to check Seligman on Authentic Happiness: pessimism leads to good lawyering because that it helps reveal risks. (Unfortunately, pessimism is not a good trait in most of the rest of life.) With regard to spirituality, perhaps to be a good lawyer requires a cramped, materialistic world view . . .

Posted by: Daniel Messing | May 23, 2008 4:23:19 PM