Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Listening To Our Students: Fostering Resilience And Engagement To Promote Culture Change In Legal Education

Ann Sinsheimer (Pittsburgh) & Omid Fotuhi (Pittsburgh), Listening to Our Students: Fostering Resilience and Engagement to Promote Culture Change in Legal Education, 26 Legal Writing: The J. Legal Writing Inst. 81 (2022):

In this Article, we describe a dynamic program of research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law that uses mindset to promote resilience and engagement in law students. For the last three years, we have used tailored, well-timed, psychological interventions to help students bring adaptive mindsets to the challenges they face in law school. The act of listening to our students has been the first step in designing interventions to improve their experience, and it has become a kind of intervention in itself. Through this work, we have learned that simply asking our law students about their experiences and listening carefully to their answers helps create an environment that supports academic and professional growth.

The pandemic became an opportunity for us to listen even more deeply to our students. To successfully attend law school in the time of COVID, students had to navigate online classes, high degrees of uncertainty, rapidly changing socio-political circumstances, and threats to their own health and the health of their families, all the while coping with the routine stresses of law school. We came to understand that many law students displayed tremendous resilience with just a little bit of help, and we learned along the way how to more effectively help them. Educators, in a post-pandemic world, have an opportunity to bring about meaningful cultural change within our institutions and to humanize legal education more broadly. While the strategies discussed in this article reflect the specific culture at Pitt Law, our approach is relevant to all law schools.

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