Tuesday, October 17, 2017
During the first week of class I asked my students if they had any lingering questions that weren't resolved during Orientation. Several students inquired, "Where is the student lounge?" Admittedly our student lounge is somewhat difficult to find, with the entrance tucked between two vending machine on the second floor. I gave them directions and then jokingly described the student lounge as a place that only appears to those law students who already know of its whereabouts—which incidentally helps keep the room secreted from non-law students looking for a cool new spot to relax. Students aptly pointed out that I had also inadvertently described a key aspect of the Room of Requirement, a magical all-purpose space that featured prominently in the latter-half of the Harry Potter series.
[Sidenote: For those non-magical folk who aren’t familiar with Harry Potter, the Room of Requirement “only appears when a person has real need of it – and always comes equipped for the seeker's purpose. Any purpose.” For example, the Room of Requirement took the form of a bathroom for the headmaster when he was most in need, a training facility for Harry and the other members of his Army, and a storage room for many other students wishing to hide certain nefarious objects.]
The Potterheads were right, but if I had to pick the real Room of Requirement within the law school, it would undoubtedly be the Academic Excellence Center, especially in October. We never know who is going to walk through our door or what issue, question, or request they might bring with them. Just last week we fielded questions about academic advising, studying for midterm exams, debriefing after midterm exams, outlining, time management, moot court, legal writing, seminar papers, mental health resources, financial aid, new attorney swearing-in ceremonies, and summer employment, just to name a few.
I believe that my colleagues, while supportive of the Center, really don’t comprehend the varied roles that academic support professors play in the law school at any one time. To better capture the ever evolving list of activities within the Center, we recently installed a Survey Kiosk. The kiosk is actually an i-pad mounted on a chest-high stand near the door to the Center. The i-pad is locked using Apple’s Guided Access feature so that visitors can only access one webpage, namely a survey link.
We then created a 15-second survey that heavily relies on the use of skip logic. We now ask everyone to complete the survey following their visit to the Center. We also posted the survey link to our Facebook page, just in case someone forgets to complete the questionnaire before leaving the Center. The survey allows us to quickly capture the following information about each visit:
- Visitor’s class year (prospective student, 1L, 2L, 3L, or graduate)
- Who they visited within the Center
- Whether the meeting was a walk-in or by appointment
- Nature of the visit, i.e. the topic that was discussed
- Overall usefulness of the meeting, rated on a Likert Scale; and
- Any additional comments
In just two months, we have received roughly 200 real-time responses. This data has already allowed us to track which days of the week and weeks within the semester generate increased foot traffic, how well the Dean’s Fellows and Peer Writing Consultants are connecting with their classmates, and the types of services being most utilized. Unsurprisingly, 1Ls continue to make-up the bulk of our client base. But, we anticipate a sharp increase in 3L foot traffic in the spring semester, when the 3Ls turn their attention to applying for and sitting for the bar exam.
This real-time kiosk system will replace our end-of-the-semester evaluation, which historically has suffered from low response rates. The data should also be immensely helpful when we are tasked with completing annual Faculty Activity Reports and Performance Reviews next summer. Previously, we relied on a much less empirical system, consisting primarily of fuzzy memories, email inbox search results, and painstaking calendar reviews.
All-in-all, the Survey Kiosk has been a successful experiment, thus far. If you’re interested in doing something similar at your institution, you can purchase a basic i-pad and stand for under $1,000.00—making this an ideal project to submit for a technology grant, especially in light of its relatively low cost and easy implementation. Finally, we are also happy to share our survey setup with you; just ask. Unfortunately, we can't post the survey link here for you to view, because all of your curiosity clicks will create false responses in the data. (Kirsha Trychta)
Monday, October 16, 2017
I first want to provide a special shout-out to Russell McClain, the University of Baltimore School of Law, and everyone involved with the planning and running of the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) Diversity Conference. The presentations and accompanying dialogue were informative and thought provoking. And, as always, the camaraderie among the law school academic support community and the community’s genuine interest in law student success were inspiring and helped serve as continued motivation to push us through the rest of the academic semester.
I also want to provide a separate shout-out to my colleague, Rachel Gurvich. I have mentioned Rachel’s name and Twitter handle (@RachelGurvich) on several occasions at law school conferences and on this blog. Rachel recently wrote an ASP-ish post on The #Practice Tuesday blog. The post, entitled, “It’s not so shiny anymore: 1Ls and the October slump”, provides seven tips on how 1Ls can push through the rest of the academic semester. I encourage you and your students to take a look at the post and follow Rachel on Twitter. She’s a great colleague and resource at Carolina and beyond—her Tweets have reached and supported law students throughout the country, including this one and this one.
Rachel and Sean Marotta (@smmarotta) started The #Practice Tuesday blog as an opportunity to expand their #Practice Tuesday discussions on Twitter. On Tuesday afternoons, Rachel and Sean lead great discussions on “advice and musings on legal practice and the profession.” Participants in the discussions include practitioners, judges, and law school faculty and students throughout the country. Feel free to join in on the conversations!
Again, thanks to Russell McClain and everyone involved with the AASE Diversity Conference! And, thanks, to my amazing colleague Rachel Gurvich! (OJ Salinas)
October 16, 2017 in Advice, Current Affairs, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Meetings, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 15, 2017
The deadline for registration is Friday, October 20th.
West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Sixth Annual Conference: Lost in Translation
Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, CA
Friday, November 3, 2017
9:00-9:30am: Breakfast & Welcome
9:30-10:15am: Critical Reading: Strategies for Success
Jane Bloom Grisé, University of Kentucky College of Law
This presentation will explain why law students need to receive instruction in critical reading and will provide specific strategies that will enable students to understand cases and statutes. Law students should not be expected to learn critical reading techniques in one orientation session in their 1L year. Rather, they should be introduced to these strategies over the course of their law school experience. The presentation will focus on the purpose for reading cases, reading as an advocate and with focus, case structure and civil and criminal procedure, context and overview, understanding the facts, strategies to use to understand text, strategies to use to understand main ideas, finding rules, case evaluation, case briefing, case synthesis, and reading statutes. The presentation also will offer ideas regarding how critical reading instruction can be incorporated into all law school courses.
10:25-11:10am: The Power of Post-Its: How to use a set of sticky notes to promote analytical organization, peer communication, and student self-assessment
Katherine Silver Kelly, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law
The Post-It Note Activity builds on the concept that, because feedback is a vital key to developing strong communication skills, academic support professionals should utilize high-impact and high-engagement modes of feedback that do not impose an impossible time commitment. In other words, get a lot of bang for the buck. The activity also supports the goal of law students developing the necessary ability to self-assess and become independent problem-solvers. The Post-It Note Activity is the perfect balance between guidance and independence that reinforces the importance of synthesizing rules and organizing concepts in order to see and understand an analytical framework. It also develops communication skills in that students must be able to articulate their ideas into a tangible form. This activity works for any type of learner because it allows a student to engage material on multiple analytical levels, recognize multiple solution paths, and use multiple communication tools.
11:20-12:20pm: KeyNote Speaker
Ron Pi, Principal Analyst for the Office of Research & Institutional Accountability at the State Bar of California
In this presentation, Mr. Pi will provide an overview of the various bar exam related studies the California Bar Exam has recently been engaged in with a focus on the content validation study. Mr. Pi organized and monitored the recent content validation workshop. This workshop’s focus included the depth of knowledge, skills and abilities required for passing the bar exam. Mr. Pi will also discuss future research plans to be conducted by the California Bar.
1:15-2:00pm: From Practical Experience to Success in the Classroom, on the Bar Exam, and Beyond.
Marguerite Lee & Heather Varanini, Golden Gate University School of Law
In this presentation we will discuss how practical experiences gained in law school informed our current work teaching first year law students how to build and maintain the skills they need to succeed in law school and on the bar exam. The presentation will explore the connection between explaining complicated legal topics to clients and other non-legal people, and the challenge of breaking down those same legal topics for first year law students and those preparing for the bar.
2:10-2:55pm: A.S.A.P. as a Multimodal Translator of Student Mindset: Balancing Old School Methods with the New
Any Vaughan-Thomas, California Western School of Law
“It is not that the student can’t do the work, it is that the student does not want to do the work.” This presentation seeks to critically examine the mindsets of 50 students when they entered California Western School of Law’s Academic Support and Assistance Program (A.S.A.P.) in comparison to the mindset of the 34 students that successfully completed the program to advance into upper division. The goal of the presentation is to identify the teaching methods that helped these students translate information, engage with their materials, and apply their knowledge to solve legal problems. Ultimately we ask, “Can this program change a student’s mindset?” And if so, what is it about this program that motivates the change?
3:05-4:05pm The Complete Cycle of Law Study and Exam Preparation Lesson
Laurie Zimet & Jennifer Freeland, UC Hastings College of the Law
In this interactive presentation, we will demonstrate a lesson that provides an overview of the entire legal analysis process. Using active learning pedagogy, students learn how to read a court decision, and how to extract the legal principles from that case to create a brief. Then, using the same and additional cases, we will share active learning exercises for promoting understanding of the precedential value of previous cases and various approaches to reasoning by analogy. Finally, exercises to organize/outline case law for application to essay and multiple choice exams will be addressed as well as methods for student self-assessment.
4:15-5:00pm Back It Up: Improving Analysis by First Improving Rule Comprehension
Queena Mewers, UC Irvine School of Law
When teaching “IRAC,” we tend to focus on the “A” section and help our students express their analysis more fully by prompting them to fill in the following blank with facts and inferences: “Here, [element X] is met because ______.” Although students can typically fill in the blank with facts and inferences when specifically prompted this way, they struggle to generate this formula on their own because they actually often do not understand what are all the rule elements they must apply in the first place to effect a complete analysis of an issue. In this presentation, I will suggest a general method for teaching rule comprehension so that students can better identify, extract, and organize rules in preparation for writing the “A” section. I will also provide several follow-on exercises that utilize and reinforce this teaching method while helping students with critical reading, outlining, and actually writing the “A” section.
5:00pm Conference Close
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Position Title: Associate Director of Academic Advising & Policy Development (14327)
Washington College of Law
$70,000 - $75,000
Project Leader/Advisor B
Work Hours per Week:
The Associate Director of Academic Advising & Policy Development will promote the academic excellence of American University Washington College of Law students, from matriculation through graduation. The Associate Director will lead the law school’s advising efforts, and will be responsible for conceptualizing and organizing all academic advising activities at the law school and individually providing academic advising to JD students. The incumbent will have a central role in the law school in ensuring that all students have the opportunity for appropriate, useful, targeted, and strategic academic advising and that they are knowledgeable about the law school’s myriad academic and student services. The Associate Director will also be responsible for policy and procedure development related to the curriculum and compliance with American Bar Association standards and American Association of Law Schools rules.
J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school; Admission to the bar.
· 5 years of experience advising or mentoring law students and/or law graduates preferably in the area of academic advising
· Deep knowledge of law school curricula, law school pedagogical approaches, and developments in the legal market
· Excellent interpersonal skills, with a demonstrated focus on empathy, sensitivity, and discretion
· Strong legal writing, research, and analysis skills
· Ability to build rapport with and gain trust of students, faculty and staff;
· Strong oral presentation skills
· Demonstrated ability to exercise sound, ethical, and professional judgment
· Understanding of the structure and purpose of the American Bar Association Standards and Association of American Law Schools Regulations
· Knowledge of FERPA and implementing regulations
· Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite and social media platforms
· Must be self-motivated and able to initiate and set goals and prioritize tasks
· Demonstrated supervisory experience and attention to detail
· At least 1 year of legal practice or post-graduate clerkship
Hiring offers for this position are contingent on the successful completion of a background check.
American University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution that operates in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The university does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, personal appearance, gender identity and expression, family responsibilities, political affiliation, source of income, veteran status, an individual’s genetic information or any other bases under federal or local laws (collectively "Protected Bases") in its programs and activities.
To Apply Please Visit: https://jobs.american.edu/JobPosting.aspx?JPID=6912
For our upcoming Winter issue, we are particularly interested in submissions surrounding the issue’s themes of academic advising, counseling, and troubleshooting performance issues our students' experience. Are you doing something innovative outside of the classroom that helps motivate a new generation of law students? Do you have classroom exercises that promote the positive effects of supportive peer groups? Do you use technology to facilitate difficult conversations with students who are performing at a level they find acceptable?
Please ensure that your articles are applicable to our wide readership. Principles that apply broadly — i.e., to all teaching or support program environments — are especially welcome. While we always want to be supportive of your work, we discourage articles that focus solely on advertising for an individual school’s program.
Please send your article submission to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than December 1, 2017. (Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.) Attach your submission to your message as a Word file. Please do not send a hard-copy manuscript or paste a manuscript into the body of an email message.
Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate. Please include any references in a references list at the end of your manuscript, not in footnotes. (See articles in this issue for examples.)
We look forward to reading your work and learning from you!
Chelsea Baldwin, Executive Editor
DeShun Harris, Associate Editor
Christina Chong, Technology Editor
Friday, October 13, 2017
Concordia University School of Law, located in Boise, Idaho, invites applications for a Director of Academic Success position beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. This is a full-time position that may be a contract faculty or staff position, depending upon the qualifications of the candidate. Under the direction of the Associate Dean for Academics, the Director of the Academic Success Program will have lead responsibility for maximizing student learning and performance in law school courses and on the bar exam by instructing students on learning techniques, identifying external resources for student academic success, collaborating with faculty on instruction, and assessing the success of educational programs. In addition, this position will have responsibility for teaching courses targeted at students who would benefit from support in legal analysis; supporting students seeking assistance in learning; and for developing and implementing a strategy for bar exam passage. The Director is also responsible for administering the Admission by Performance Program, the law school’s conditional admission program for prospective 1L students. The position requires interaction with prospective students, students, staff, faculty, and administrators on a daily basis. Our goal is to recruit a dynamic, bright, and highly motivated individual who is interested in making significant contributions to our law school and its students. Experience in academic support and bar exam support is preferred, and teaching experience is desirable. As a Lutheran institution of higher education, we seek candidates who will support our mission and promote Lutheran values.
Special Instructions to Applicants: Questions about the position can be directed to the Chair of the Committee. Applicants should submit a current Curriculum Vitae, a statement of faith, and a letter of interest to https://cu-portland.csod.com/ats/careersite/JobDetails.aspx?site=6&id=454. Please also provide the names and email addresses of three individuals prepared to speak to your professional qualifications for this position. Please note: these references will not be contacted immediately, but may be contacted at an appropriate later point in the review process. Additional materials related to teaching excellence and samples of scholarly publications may be emailed to the Victoria Haneman, Chair of the Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of applications will begin immediately and continued until the position is filled. Concordia University reserves the right to give preference in employment based upon religion in order to further the Lutheran objectives of the University and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.
Dear ASP Colleagues,
I am pleased to report that the Awards Committee for the AALS Section on Academic Support is soliciting nominations for our annual section award winner. The AALS Section Award will be presented to an outstanding member of the ASP community at our section meeting at the January 2018 AALS Annual Meeting. Please review the eligibility and criteria information below and send nominations directly to me, Awards Committee Chair, at email@example.com.
The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, October 20 at 5:00 p.m. EST. Only AALS ASP Section members may make nominations, but all those within the ASP community may be nominated. Membership in the section is free and can be processed by e-mailing a membership request to firstname.lastname@example.org. For a nomination to be considered, it must include (at a minimum) a one to two paragraph explanation of why the nominee is deserving of the award. (If you have already submitted a nomination to me, you do not need to re-send it; I will simply include that nomination with any additional ones received.)
Eligibility and Criteria for Selection. The eligible nominees for the award are individuals who have made significant and/or long-term contributions to the development of the field of law student academic support. All legal educators, regardless of the nature or longevity of their appointment or position, who have at some point in their careers worked part-time or full-time in academic support are eligible for the award. The award will be granted to recognize those who have made such contributions through any combination of the following activities:
- service to the profession and to professional institutions—e.g., advocacy with the NCBE or assumption of leadership roles in the ASP community;
- support to and mentoring of ASP colleagues;
- support to and mentoring of students;
- promoting diversity in the profession and expanding access to the legal profession; and
- developing ideas or innovations—whether disseminated through academic writing, newsletters, conference presentations, or over the listserv.
Law schools, institutions, or organizations cannot receive an award. Prior year or current year Section officers are excluded from being selected as an award winner.
The Committee looks forward to receiving your nominations. Please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope the remainder of your semester goes well!.
Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
Co-Director, Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education Reform
Regent University School of Law
- 757.352.4734; f. 757.352.4571
Thursday, October 12, 2017
The Smart-Phone Dilemna: "Blood Pressure Spikes, Pulse Quickens, Problem-Solving Skills Decline," says Columnist
As recently reported by columnist Nicholas Carr, if you have a smart phone, you'll likely be "consulting the glossy little rectangle nearly 30,000 times over the coming year."
Most of us don't think that's too awful. I certainly depend on mine...and all the time. It's become my phone, my mailbox, my knowledge bank, my companion, my navigator, my weather channel, to name just a few of the wonderful conveniences of this remarkable nano-technology. But, here's the rub. Accordingly to Mr. Carr, there are numerous research studies that, as the headline above suggests, indicate that smart phone access is harmful, well, to one's intellectual, emotional, and perhaps even bodily health.
Let me just share a few of the cited studies from Mr. Carr's article on "How Smart-phones Hijack Our Minds." https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-smartphones-hijack-our-minds-1507307811?mod=e2tw
First, as reported by Mr. Carr, there's a California study that suggests that the mere presence of smart phones hampers our intellectual problem-solving abilities. In the study of 520 undergraduate students, the researches - using a TED lecture talk - tested students on their exam performance based on their understanding of the lecture with the students divided into three separate groups. In one classroom, the students placed their cellphones in front of them during the lecture and the subsequent exam. In another classroom the students had to stow their cellphones so that they didn't have immediate access (i.e., sort of an "out-of-sight--out-of-mind" approach). In the last classroom situation, the students had to leave their cellphones in a different room from the lecture hall. Almost all of the students reported that the placement or access of their cell phones did not compromise their exam performance in anyway. But, the test results shockingly indicated otherwise. The students with cellphones on their desks performed the worst on the exam. In addition, even the students with the cellphones stowed performed not nearly as good as the students who were not permitted to bring cellphones to the lecture. Apparently, just the knowledge that one's cellphone is ready and standing by negatively impacts learning.
Second, also as reported by Mr. Carr, there's a Arkansas study that suggests that students can improve their exam performance by a whole letter grade merely by leaving one's cellphone behind when headed to classes. In that study of 160 students, the researchers found that those students who had their phones with them in a lecture class, even if they did not access or use them, performed substantially worse than those students that abandoned their cellphones prior to class, based on test results on cognitive understanding of the lecture material. In other words, regardless of whether one uses one's cellphone during class, classroom learning appears to be compromised just with the presence of one's cellphone.
Third, as again reported by Mr. Carr, cellphone access or proximity not only hinders learning but also harms social communication and interpersonal skills. In this United Kingdom study, researches divided people into pairs and asked them to have a 10-minute conversation. Some pairs of conversationalists were placed into a room in which there was a cellphone present. The other pairs were placed in rooms in which there were no cell phones available. The participants were then given tests to measure the depth of the conversation that the subjects experienced based on measures of affinity, trust, and empathy. The researches found that the mere presence of cellphones in the conversational setting harmed interpersonal skills such as empathy, closeness, and trust, and the results were most harmful when the topics discussed were "personally meaningful topic[s]." In sum, two-way conversations aren't necessary two-way when a cellphone is involved, even if it is not used.
Finally, Mr. Carr shares research out of Columbia University that suggests that our trust in smartphones and indeed the internet compromises our memorization abilities. In that study, the researches had participants type out the facts surrounding a noteworthy news event with one set of participants being told that what they typed would be captured by the computer while the other set of subjects were told that the facts would be immediately erased from the computer. The researchers then tested the participants abilities to accurately recall the factual events. Those that trusted in the computer for recall had much more difficulty recalling the facts than those who were told that they couldn't rely on the computer to retain the information. In other words, just the thought that our computers will accurately record our notes for later use, might harm our abilities to recall and access information. And, as Mr. Carr suggests, "only by encoding information in our biological memory can we weave the rich intellectual associations that form the essence of personal knowledge and give rise to critical and conceptual thinking. No matter how much information swirls around us, the less well-stocked our memory, the less we have to think with."
Plainly, that's a lot to think about. And, with all of the conversations swirling about as to whether teachers should ban laptops from classrooms, it might just add "fuel to the fire." On that question, this article does not opine. But, regardless of whether you take notes on a computer or not, according to the research, there's an easy way to raise your letter grade by one grade. Just leave your smartphone at home, at your apartment, or in your locker...whenever you go to classes. (Scott Johns).
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
During the past few weeks, my focus was on the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE). Students have received countless resources to help support them with the MPRE preparation process. Students recognize that the exam is fast approaching and some have not yet started to study. Others are considering various study strategies and asking themselves whether they are learning what they need to learn.
Below are some considerations as students wrap-up or engage-in MPRE studies:
• Build your skill and momentum. Most bar-type multiple choice questions are reading comprehension questions so initially, you might want to go at a slow pace as quickly reading the fact patterns then selecting an answer might not yield the correct answer. Often, you may overlook key facts which could dictate your selection of the correct answer. Develop your reading comprehension skills by slowing down, then building your pace. Take it one step at a time and focus on your timing closer to the exam
• Practice to practice. Simply completing practice questions or exams without a purpose can be detrimental; therefore, you may wish to consider your fundamental justification and benefits for completing questions. Why you are completing questions? Are you completing question to determine your understanding of a sub-issue, to determine your exam time management skills, to determine your ability to manage multiple sub-issues at once, to learn, or to highlight strengths and deficiencies? You want to think about why you are completing questions, what purpose it serves and is it service that purpose. You might need to make adjustments depending on your answer. You absolutely do not want to avoid the difficult questions.
• Review and learn the rules. How are you ensuring that you are committing the rules to memory, particularly the ones you “trip up” on? How are you condensing the information to review them? Typically, students stop at either reviewing an outline or watching a lecture but you might want to have an idea of what a rule on a particular topic says to effectively be able to arrive at the correct answer. Are there flashcards or other available resources you can use?
• Resources you may wish to consider. The National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE) Website has a number of resources posted so use them or at the very least, check to see whether your selected MPRE preparation course includes such information. Does it cover the entire content in the MPRE Subject Matter Outline? Does it highlight MPRE Key Words and Phrases? Are you aware that the NCBE website includes a practice exam that you can purchase and sample MPRE questions available for free?
To the November 4th MPRE bar takers: All the very best! (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
Typically, the first full week of October marks National Diversity Week, founded in 1998 to raise awareness about the diversity which has shaped, and continues to shape, the United States. Numerous cities, companies, and schools, including mine, will participate in this weeklong, nationwide event.
Roughly ten years after the founding of National Diversity Week, the American Bar Association also decided to make diversity and inclusion a top priority. That year the House of Delegates adopted just four goals for the Association:
- Serve Our Members,
- Improve Our Profession,
- Eliminate Bias and Enhance Diversity, and
- Advance the Rule of Law.
The Association then charged the Office of Diversity and Inclusion with advancing “Goal III,” namely to “promote full and equal participation in the Association, our profession, and the justice system by all persons” and to “eliminate bias in the legal profession and the Justice System.” The office now serves as a hub, coordinating the activities of seven other ABA entities:
- Commission on Women in the Profession
- Commission on Disability Rights
- Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession
- Coalition on Racial and Ethnic Justice
- Council for Diversity and Inclusion in the Educational Pipeline
- Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities
- Commission on Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
The ABA has also created an online portal to centralize information concerning the Association’s various diversity and inclusion initiatives. The portal contains videos and toolkits to enable law firms and law schools to easily offer diversity and inclusion focused presentations throughout the year, such as an implicit bias training or a discussion on the concept of “grit” in women lawyers. (If you haven’t planned a Diversity Week event yet or want to beef up your existing plans, you can quickly download a lesson-in-the-box from the portal.)
In addition to the ABA resources, the National Diversity Council and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity have both made lasting impacts on the legal profession in the past decade.
The National Diversity Council is a non-partisan organization dedicated to being both a resource for and an advocate for the value of diversity and inclusion. “The National Diversity Council is the first non-profit organization to bring together the private, public and non-profit sectors to discuss the many dimensions and benefits of a multicultural environment. The success of the Texas Diversity Council (established in 2004) served as a catalyst for the National Diversity Council, launched in the fall of 2008."
The Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, founded in 2009, “is an organization of more than 265 corporate chief legal officers and law firm managing partners—the leadership of the profession—who have dedicated themselves to creating a truly diverse U.S. legal profession.” The organization hopes “to attract, inspire, and nurture the talent in society and within [legal] organizations, thereby helping a new and more diverse generation of attorneys ascend to positions of leadership.”
Lastly, for even more concrete ideas about how you—as an academic support professor—can best contribute to the legal profession’s goals of eliminating bias and promoting diversity, join us at the Inaugural AASE Diversity Conference, Fulfilling Promises: Providing Effective Academic and Bar Exam Support to Diverse Students on October 12-13, 2017, hosted by the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in Baltimore, Maryland.
Monday, October 9, 2017
The counseling field has often highlighted the benefits of some personal disclosure from therapists to their clients. Some cited benefits include increased trust and rapport, as well validation of the clients’ experiences.
Join me this week at the Inaugural Diversity Conference for the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) in Baltimore, Maryland, for a moderated discussion on the benefits of academic support professionals sharing personal stories and struggles with their students.
Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences (i.e., their stories or struggles) relating to diversity and inclusion or their law school experience in general. These experiences may either be personal stories or struggles or stories related to students that the participants may have worked with in their capacity as academic support professionals. As presenters and participants share their stories, the “listening” participants will be modeling and reviewing some of the same active listening skills and nonverbal behaviors that academic support professionals should be engaging in when they work with students in either individual or group conferences.
Hope to see you in Maryland! (OJ Salinas)
October 9, 2017 in Advice, Disability Matters, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Meetings, Miscellany, News, Professionalism, Program Evaluation, Stress & Anxiety, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 8, 2017
SAVE THE DATE
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning—Summer 2018 Conference
Exploring the Use of Technology in the Law School Classroom
Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, Washington
Conference Theme: During this conference, we will explore the many and varied uses of technology in the law school classroom to improve student learning. The conference will focus on how law schools and professors are incorporating technology across the curriculum to enhance students’ learning in many areas such as assessments, group work, peer feedback, professor feedback, self-evaluation, and other skills.
Conference Proposals: The Institute will issue a Call for Proposals later this year inviting proposals for 60-minute workshop sessions addressing the conference theme. Proposals will be due by February 1, 2018.
Conference Structure: The conference will consist of a series of concurrent workshops that will take place on Tuesday, June 19 and Wednesday, June 20. The conference will open with an informal reception on Monday evening, June 18. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and the Gonzaga University School of Law.
Who Should Attend: This conference is for all law faculty, adjuncts, and administrators.
Registration Information: The conference fee for participants is $400, which includes materials, meals during the conference (two breakfasts and two lunches), and the welcome reception Sunday, June 17. The conference fee for presenters is $300. Details regarding the registration process will be provided in future announcements.
Accommodations: A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees will be announced in the next couple of months. These hotels will be within walking distance from the law school. There is easy transportation to and from the airport, so a rental car may not be necessary.
Saturday, October 7, 2017
An article in The Chronicle of Higher Education looks at ways the academy will change with Generations X, Y, and Z as students, faculty, and administrators. We tend to consider these generations as learners and lawyers, but we may not fully appreciate how our law school environments will change when they become faculty and administrators later. The link is Generations Article .
Friday, October 6, 2017
The debate on electronic devices in the classroom and no bans/partial bans/total bans continues as Generation Z enters the classrooms of higher education. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently looked again at the issue: Gen Z Changes the Debate. (Amy Jarmon)
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
The hustle and bustle of day to day academic support life does not always allow for me to say all that I would like to say to the countless students who contact me to let me know that they passed the bar exam. In the moment, I am excited, I might scream, my heart and my soul are filled with joy, and I might even shed a tear as the bar passer and I recall the challenges they overcame to make it to this point. While addressed to one individual, this letter addresses most of what I would have liked to say but may not have. I am certain that I missed something so please forgive me in advance.
I am so very proud of you!!! You passed the bar exam and did it on the first try! You should be very proud of yourself and your accomplishments. I am certain that your family is very excited for you. Many of your former law school colleagues have stopped by to ask whether I heard about your success and expressed their joy, excitement, and pride. You are an inspiration, a role model, and mentor to others who will walk in your shoes very soon so please do not take that role lightly. I also look to you for support of soon to be bar takers so please do not forget to provide me with any advice you have for those who will soon sit for your state bar exam.
At this time, passing the bar might be a surreal experience but I am here to remind you that you did it. I also want to remind you of what it took for you to get here because the journey was not a simple walk in the park. You sacrificed a lot in the past three years. Was it worth it to you? I want you to take some time prior to your swearing-in ceremony, prior to the start of your job, prior to your journey to finding a job, or prior to the official start of your legal journey to reflect on your legal education journey so that you never forget what it took to achieve this success.
Remember the community you come from and what lead you to consider pursuing a law degree. Maybe you are a first-generation college student, first-generation graduate, or first-generation professional school student so you had to sort through how to navigate the necessary steps to attend law school. Maybe everyone around you said you could not make it to or through law school or maybe you had a supportive family who believed that you could achieve anything and you were slated for success. Maybe you were the only one in your community to graduate from high school and/or college. But you did it and that in itself is an achievement you should be proud of.
Remember all that you sacrificed to attend law school and how much of a toll it took on you, your children, your marriage, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, your family, and all those around you. Maybe you moved from across the country to attend law school. Maybe you gave up a well- paying job to live like a college student to pursue your dream of obtaining a legal education. Maybe you left an environment you felt comfortable in to move to one where you stuck out like a sore thumb and never really understood or felt a part of. Maybe you had to leave significant others behind or become a different type of parent, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, son, daughter, brother, or sister to achieve your dream. Maybe you were not as “present” as you used to be, missed holiday celebrations, and other significant life events to obtain your law degree.
Remember the countless hours you devoted to law school studies and bar exam studies. Maybe you were admitted through a conditional admission program, alternative admission program, or simply opted to participate in a pre-law school program, early start program or jump start program. Maybe reading cases, understanding concepts, briefing, outlining, and drafting memoranda took you longer than the next person to master or at least get comfortable with. Maybe law school studies posed the first academic challenge you have ever experienced in life. Maybe you sacrificed hours on course preparation, did not yield the expected results but you kept going. Maybe you experienced many challenges during your summer bar studies. You had no idea how you would manage all of the subject matter and apply it when necessary. Maybe your scores and feedback on essays, Multistate Bar Exams (MBE), Multistate Performance Tests (MPT) and mock bar exams were subpar and you were unsure about whether you would pass the bar exam. Maybe your entry credentials did not “guarantee” law school or bar exam success but you nevertheless dispelled every single one of those myths - you PASSED!
Remember when you said that you were “over law school”, law school was not for you, and you wanted to and also planned to go back home and never return. Maybe you felt like an impostor, alienated, alone, pushed to your limit. What would have happened had you given up on your dream? Would you have experienced the success you now have? The world would have lost an amazing attorney, YOU!
Remember when you ran out of funds and had no food to eat, no means to buy books, and thought you might become homeless. You became resourceful, learned about the options available to you, and overcame each and every one of those obstacles. Your classmates, professors, friends, and family may not have known about your needs and thought you were doing alright. Remember when your grandmother passed away, when your classmate passed away, when your mother or your father told you they had cancer, and when you faced countless other tragedies. Those experiences may make you relatable to some of the clients you will encounter or at the very least will motivate you to support causes that impact various indigent, disenfranchised, and struggling communities and individuals. You are also a stronger person because of what you have experienced.
You did that! No one else! You stared fear and challenges in the eye and emerged stronger, wiser, and capable. Someone once told me: “what is meant for you is yours, and no one can ever take it away.” This statement holds true for you.
You are an amazing person! You inspire me every day and by sharing your story with me, many others will benefit. You persisted in the face of challenges when some others gave up.
My only advice is that you remember the positive things others did for you and do it for someone else if and whenever you are able to. That is the biggest reward you will ever experience. My role as your coach was to push you so that you would see your endless potential and to propel you beyond your own limited dreams and aspirations because hopefully, I saw more in you than you saw in yourself. Remember all that you are, all that you experienced, all that you accomplished and did not accomplish, and where you have been. Never be so important as to deny your ability to lift someone else up. You are done with one challenge and I am certain that you will experience countless others in the months and years to come but you are equipped for it all. Believe it!
All of the very best,
Your ASP and Bar Coach (Goldie Pritchard)
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
For my fourth and penultimate pumpkin post, I recommend that novices regularly remind themselves of their original goal.
In Lesson #2 I explained how I came to establish my personal goal for the growing season, namely to get a single healthy pumpkin to the weigh-off scale. Now that the weigh-off is less than two weeks away, I'm starting to secretly hope I win the Rookie of the Year award. Consciously I know that I have not done as much work as some other new growers, but that fact hasn't stopped me from wanting to win the award. My original goal was to grow a pumpkin, and I've done just that. Yet, I have the distinct feeling that I'm going to be (irrationally) disappointed with my ranking on the leaderboard at the weigh-off event.
All this ranking-focused-thinking got me wondering about my students and their first-year grades. At the beginning of the semester, I asked my criminal law class (which, by design, also includes my AEP students) to tell me what they most wanted out of the fall semester. The top two responses: "to survive" and "to pass." Only a handful of students offered more specific aspirations, like learning about murder, gaining confidence, performing pro bono work, or learning "how to write." It seems that most of my rookie students and I had the same mindset at the outset of our respective endeavors: to survive the new experience. So, does that mean that most of my students will start dreaming of sitting at the top of the leaderboard in December, even though that wasn't their original goal, and even though they may not have put forth the amount of effort needed to achieve a high ranking?
Admittedly, I don't have an answer; rather I'm making an observation about novices. Nonetheless, I do plan to discuss the theory with my students. I suspect that a candid discussion about my own illogical (and last minute) desire to be "the best" may help reframe my students' thoughts and expectations with regard to their own fall grades. In a school with a mandatory grade curve, there can only be handful of "A"s in each class. But, a law school "B" can be equally worthy of celebration--especially if the original goal was just "to survive." (Kirsha Trychta)
Here is "Presley" in mid-September, weighing an estimated 400 pounds.
Monday, October 2, 2017
I mentioned last week that students don’t have to wait until final exams at the end of the semester to find out whether they have a good understanding of what their doctrinal professors are teaching. Since most law school classes don’t have traditional periodic tests, I encouraged students to use their professors’ various “what ifs” and “how abouts” to test their understanding of key rules and concepts that the professors are covering in class.
Students: If you are able to answer the professors’ hypotheticals—whether out loud or in your head—you are positioning yourself well to answer the professors’ hypotheticals on their final exams.
A final exam is often just a mixture of a bunch of hypotheticals in one or two large stories. The hypotheticals test your recollection and understanding of key rules that you have covered throughout the semester. The hypotheticals also test your ability to identify and apply significant facts within the hypotheticals to your key rules. This application of law to facts is legal analysis. The better your legal analysis is on a final exam, the more likely you will get a better grade.
But, I know the Socratic class can often be an intimidating and difficult experience, particularly for many 1L students. I know it is not easy sitting in a Socratic class worrying about getting called on—I’ve been there, and I didn’t particularly like it. I disliked the Socratic class so much that I wanted to quit law school after my first year (That story is for another blog post; but you can read a little more about my law school experience here.)
I feared speaking up in the Socratic class because I didn’t want to be seen as incompetent. I worried too much about what my professors or my peers might have thought about me during that moment right after the professor called my name in class. I worried about getting the professor's question wrong. I worried about appearing nervous. I worried.
It took me a long while to adjust to the type of teaching in the Socratic class. It took me a long while to realize that it didn't matter if I was nervous or got a question wrong--what mattered was how I did on the final exams.
So, I wanted to do what I could to prepare for the final exams. I tried to do a lot of preparation outside of class. I read my cases. But, I also used study aids to help give me context for what I was reading. The study aids also provided me with a bunch of hypotheticals where I could practice my legal analysis.
I practiced my legal analysis within the confines of my safe apartment where I didn’t have to worry about others “judging” me if my voice cracked or was shaky or when I didn’t answer a question correctly. I trained myself on issue spotting and applying law to facts so that I could feel more confident not only in the Socratic class, but on the final exams as well. And things turned out okay for me. The guy who wanted to quit law school after his 1L year is now teaching in a law school.
It’s funny how things turn out. And things can turn out well for you, too. Try to engage with your professors’ hypotheticals. If you are not fully able to engage with the hypotheticals in class, look for ways to engage with hypotheticals outside of the potentially intimidating classroom. Like anything in life, the more you practice, the better you will get. And you have an entire semester to practice for your big day (and it won't matter on that big day whether your voiced ever cracked in class or whether you got a question wrong when the professor called on you). (OJ Salinas)
October 2, 2017 in Advice, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, Learning Styles, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)
Sunday, October 1, 2017
A wide range of study aids is available to law students. You need to choose carefully which study aids to use and when to use them. Otherwise you can be overwhelmed by choice and waste time and effort.
What type of study aid do you need for the task?
- Study aids that are strictly commentaries. These study aids explain the law in depth. Examples: Understanding Law, Concise Hornbooks, Hornbooks, Inside, Mastering, Foundation, Concepts & Insights, Nutshells, Law School Legends (audio), Sum & Substance (audio).
- Study aids that are commentaries with embedded questions. These study aids explain the law in depth with questions in the text to illustrate the concepts and provide the reader with practice on the narrow issues being discussed. Examples: Examples & Explanations, Glannon Guides.
- Study aids that contain short summaries of the material with or without practice questions/problems. Examples: Acing, Short & Happy Guides, Skills & Values.
- Study aids that are lengthy outline versions of the material. These study aids typically have exam tips and practice questions as well. Examples: Gilbert Law Summaries, Emanuel Law Outlines, and Black Letter Outlines.
- Study aids that are mixed volumes with summaries of material, visual organizers, and practice questions. Examples: Finals, CrunchTime.
- Study aids that are strictly practice question books. Examples: ExamPro, Siegel's, Friedman's, Q&A.
- Study aids that are flashcards to help you memorize the black letter law. Examples: Law in a Flash, Lawdecks, Spaced Repetition.
When and how should you use a study aid?
- To preview information quickly before starting a topic, scan a summary study aid to get a general idea of the terms and subtopics you will be studying.
- To pull together the information quickly at the end of a topic before outlining, scan a summary study aid to see what you studied. You may find the summary's structure useful for determining your outline structure if the table of contents for your casebook or your professor's syllabus does not provide a structure.
- To clear up confusion, a commentary study aid is often useful at the point of outlining. After you have pulled together your own notes and briefs into an outline, you will be more aware of what you understand fully, partially, or not at all. Read a commentary to help with the parts you do not understand and then flesh out your outline as needed. (It is very inefficient to read topics that you understand fully. Focus on what you do not know.)
- To review material while doing chores, on the treadmill, or on a trip, you may find it useful to listen to one of the audio commentaries for a course. Consider listening to a section and then stopping the CD to explain that section aloud to check your comprehension.
- To find questions to help you clarify information for narrow issues when you outline, turn to the commentaries with embedded questions. These questions will help you think through the material for that narrow issue as "starter questions." However, these questions may be easier than "exam-worthy questions" because they are so focused on a specific issue.
- To test your ability to apply the law that you have already learned well, use the practice questions in the mixed volumes, practice question books, or commercial outlines. These questions are often intermediate level in difficulty. For the hardest exam practice questions, visit your law school's exam database.
- To test retention of material, application of it to new scenarios, and exam-taking strategies, complete practice questions at least 2-3 days after the material is learned well. If you complete questions too close to the review, you will automatically get them right.
- To test your ability to perform under time restraints in an exam, do as many practice questions as possible under exam conditions. For essay questions, read/analyze the fact pattern, outline an answer, and write an answer in the time period that would be required for that length/difficulty of a question. For objective questions, complete question sets in a realistic time frame for segments of your professor's exam.
- To memorize the black letter law, use flashcards throughout the semester to learn items over time. Cramming for memorization at the end of the semester is usually very ineffective.
What are some cautions in using study aids?
- Study aids are written for purchase and use by all law students in the country. Tailor your use to what matches your professor's coverage of the topics in the volumes.
- If your professor's version of the course differs from a study aid, learn your professor's version - the grader of your exam is the person to please.
- Check the copyright date of a study aid: Is it recent? Do you have the latest edition? Has the law changed since it was published?
- Check the jurisdictions covered by the study aid: Is it national in scope? Is it state specific? Does it cover the variations (UCC, Restatement, etc.) that your professor will test?
- Greater learning occurs when you generate your own study aids because you process the information instead of just reading what someone else processed. Examples: flashcards, outlines, flowcharts.
Study aids can be great supplements to your learning - however, they are not substitutes for your being an active learner and doing the hard work. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Assistant Director of Academic Support
The Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University invites applicants for the position of Assistant Director of Academic Support. The Academic Support Program assists J.D. and LL.M. students in the development of the critical skills necessary to succeed in law school, on the Bar Exam, and in practice. The successful candidate will report to the Director of Academic Support and will assist in designing and implementing all aspects of Hofstra’s established Academic Support Program including:
- Teaching first-year and upper-level classes and workshops;
- Assisting in planning and implementing first-year and upper-level programs;
- Providing individual writing, study and test-taking skills assistance and counseling;
- Identifying and assisting students who need additional academic support;
- Assisting in the development and implementation of bar exam preparation classes, programs and events;
- Assisting in the development and implementation of new services to enhance our students’ academic performance;
- Assisting in the compilation, maintenance and presentation of bar exam data and departmental database;
- Special projects as requested by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation.
Minimum requirements are: a J.D.; a strong academic record; a background demonstrating a potential for excellence in academic support and/or bar exam preparation; an understanding of developments in legal pedagogy; strong organizational and interpersonal skills; the ability to work collaboratively with all members of the law school community; proficiency with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint; and excellent writing and speaking skills. The following are not required but would substantially enhance an application: experience in law school academic support programs or other relevant teaching experience (including experience as a teaching assistant during law school); and/or an advanced degree in education, psychology, counseling, or a related field. Law practice experience is helpful, but without teaching experience will generally not be sufficient. Salary will be commensurate with experience. Some evening hours are part of this position.
Application Instructions: Qualified and interested candidates may send a cover letter and resume via email to: Nicole R. Lefton, Esq., Director of Academic Support and Bar Preparation & Assistant Professor of Academic Support and Bar Preparation, email: LawSchoolJobs@hofstra.edu. Please include “Assistant Director of Academic Support” in the subject line.
Hofstra University is an equal opportunity employer, committed to fostering diversity in its faculty, administrative staff and student body, and encourages applications from the entire spectrum of a diverse community.
UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS DARTMOUTH
OFFICIAL JOB TITLE: Director of Academic Success DIVISION: Academic & Student Affairs
DEPARTMENT: Student Services Law School
BARGAINING UNIT STATUS: ESU, Cat. 15
FLSA STATUS: Exempt EEO STATUS: 3.1 JOB CODE: 023
REPORTS TO: Director of Teaching and Learning Methods
SUPERVISES: Student employees and peer tutors
SUMMARY PURPOSE OF POSITION: Collaborates in the design, direction, and implementation of all aspects of the Law School’s Academic Support program. The Director promotes law student retention with remedial programming and academic counseling and collaborates with Deans and Faculty to ensure students' successful completion of law school and bar exam passage.
Follows the University’s best practices to build and/or support student academic success and retention, and assist in meeting strategic objectives for persistence and timely graduation of all the student population.
EXAMPLES OF PRIMARY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Collaborates on the design and implementation of programming for law students to facilitate their analytical development, examination skills, and early integration into the Law School’s curriculum.
- Presents MPRE resources and workshops to secure student success on the required Professional Ethics exam.
- Provides and oversees programmatic assistance and counseling for all students in academic difficulty.
- Collaborates with Associate Dean as requested in evaluating and resolving student petitions.
- Functions as staff member to all faculty Academic Standards Committee meetings.
- Liaises with Students Services personnel and Law Enrollment Center personnel for comprehensive student support services.
- Works with individual faculty members to provide final exam reviews for students.
- Writes Academic Plans for students who are out of satisfactory academic performance.
- Works with the Faculty and Deans to monitor, analyze, and promote student retention.
- Oversees and manages the Instructional Assistants program for faculty members, and designs and manages peer tutoring program as directed by the Director of Teaching and Learning Methods.
- In collaboration with the Director of Teaching and Learning Methods and Law School leadership, administers the Law Learning Center, remedial workshops, summer instructional programming, and MPRE preparation, and participates in staff meetings.
- Gathers and analyzes data regarding student use of academic support resources.
- In collaboration with faculty, is available to teach academic success courses.
- Performs other related duties as assigned.
EDUCATION: Juris Doctor, strong educational background.
EXPERIENCE: Previous (over one year) of experience providing academic support to law students.
OTHER: Must be available to work nights and weekends; occasional travel is required to local, regional and national conferences as well as travel to support students and graduates taking the bar exam.
KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES REQUIRED:
- Strong interpersonal, organizational, analytical, and public speaking skills.
- Proficiency with Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).
- Ability to collect, interpret, and analyze data.
- Ability to develop and manage higher educational programs.
- Knowledge of academic programs pertaining to law students.
- Knowledge of educational theories, learning styles, and disabilities.
- Three years of experience providing academic support to law students.
- Demonstrated ability to provide support for bar exam preparation.