Paul L. Caron

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Illinois Dean Amar: What Law Profs Learn — From Grading Exam Answers — About How To Write Good Questions?

Vikram Amar (Dean, Illinois), What Can Law Profs Learn — From Grading Exam Answers — About How To Write Good Questions?:

This time of year, as we law professors assess final exams and assign course grades, we naturally reflect on the ways some students could have done better in their test answers. But as I finished grading in my own course over the past few weeks, it occurred to me that it might also be helpful to think — and share my thoughts — about how to improve in creating law school tests. So below I offer — based on my two-and-a-half decades as an exam giver, my several years as an Associate Dean dealing with issues arising from exams given by my entire faculty, and my stint as a dean, that affords me the chance to hear much about what happens not just at my own school but at other law schools — four thoughts for law teachers to consider as they construct future exams.

I have come to believe in the past handful of years that midterms (and other, shorter assignments prior to the final exam) are well worth the time investment. ...

Open- or Closed-Book
[H]aving students experience some closed-book testing on various legal subject matters prior to the high-stakes bar exam is an idea worth pondering. ...

The Real World
[U]sing real-world-based questions can be very effective, but only if exam drafter properly adapts and hones them, which often takes a good deal of time and care. ...

Putting Students on Proper Notice
[W]hen it comes to putting in sufficient time and care in drafting to be fair to students, attention need be paid to the clarity of the instructions the students are given.

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Thanks you. Dean Amar.

Frame questions with precision. Hone your words. And self assess by checking answers to determine if they reveal your lack of focus and clarity.

Posted by: David Cay Johnston | Jun 21, 2019 5:58:31 AM