Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Gender Gap in Law Schools

Inside Higher Ed provides a link to a new report by Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State law prof) and Kyle McEntee (Executive Director of Law School Transparency) that indicates the gender gap for women in law school admissions and job placement: Law School Gender Gaps.

December 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Freedom of Choice

Multiple choice questions are dumb.  Even so, we've created a society where much of a person's life is dependent upon being good at coloring in computer-generated circles with graphite (PSAT, SAT, LSAT, ACT, etc., etc.).  Unfortunately, one's ability to pass the bar exam and practice law falls into this category, which I've always suspected was a decision based on insidious lobbying from the #2 pencil industry.

Multiple choice questions are dumb because they don't seem to test much more than the ability to spot and repeat back a factoid.  For example, imagine a multiple choice question like this on an astronomy test:

A sun is a:

A.  Gigantic nuclear furnace

B.  Helium-containing object

C.  Star

D.  Ball of incandescent gas

The best answer is obviously "C," although the other three aren't wrong.  I don't think picking "C" in that situation proves the student knows that a star is a "sun" if it is the center of a planetary system or any other important ideas about stars or suns.  It certainly does not show the student understood anything important about suns or how to suss out what a sun is.  It probably only proves that the student had the definition in his or her notes and could remember it.  In fact, I would argue that picking one of the wrong answers might actually show the student understood more about suns than if he or she picked the right one.

So, why do we use the MBE on the bar exam?  Being able to fill bubbles proves nothing about writing quality, critical thinking skills, advocacy, ethics, or any other skills society believes a lawyer needs.  

Additionally, factoids change.  In the law, there's local variations and changes in statutes and changes in interpretation.  Even in non-law questions, where one would think a static answer was more likely, the same problem exists.  For example,

The tyrannosaurus rex:

A.  Walked upright

B.  Had feathers

C.  Ate brontosaurus meat

D.  Was less cool than a velociraptor

The answer to that question depends on what decade the student is living in.  In the 1970s, A and C would work, but now scientists don't think T. Rex's walked around like Godzilla and a brontosaurus seems to be more correctly defined as an apatosaurus.  In the 1990s, after Jurassic Park, choice D looks pretty good.  As of a couple of weeks ago, choice B might be a lock.

For any educational endeavor, the idea of one never-changing factoid a student should have burned into his or her brain tissue seems less than useful.   

In the context of legal education, I suppose the one thing a multiple choice exam like the MBE accomplishes is proving that the person can be given a standardized assignment that is somewhat herculean and force himself or herself to put in enough work to pass it.  I guess one could argue the MBE shows grit and seriousness and ability to follow directions, but except for the ability to put up with a lot of grunt work, I don't think the MBE proves much of anything as far as being a lawyer goes.

However, at least for the time being, this is the world we are stuck with (much like complaining about social media and the Williams-Sonoma catalog, complaining about the MBE is probably more quixotic than anything else).  It would make much more sense for the UBE or any other bar exam to be solely comprised of MPTs and possibly some essays, but I doubt we're ever going to get there.

 DEVO -- "Freedom of Choice"

(Alex Ruskell)

December 9, 2016 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Exams are coming!

Monday marks the first day of exams for 1L students at my institution and I can sense it. Students are stressed and it is only going to get worse. Students are trying to determine what they can accomplish in the limited amount of time they have remaining. Students simply feel overwhelmed by the exam preparation process. At this point, we need to move beyond regret and encourage students to be as effective and efficient as they can be given the task at hand. Here are the top three things concerned students will likely hear from me:

(1) Quality over Quantity

I hear of students spending hours in the library simply to spend hours in the library. Some students feel a sense of accomplishment if they spend hours in the library, even if they are not studying the entire time. Presence in the library equates to information somehow being learned and retained. A library is an amazing place for students with a plan. Students who have a plan, implement the plan, and set deadlines are often more successful and better prepared for exams. A library can be an amazing learning environment if used appropriately. Start your studies with concepts you find most difficult and are most afraid of.

(2) Practice

Attempt a practice question for each and every subject area and attempt questions using the various modes of testing used by your professors. Exam day should not be the first time you write the answer to a practice question. It is also not enough to write answers to questions, it is important to know how to critique answers. More importantly, it is necessary to be honest with yourself about your performance. Challenging practice questions are not intended to be discouraging but to highlight what you know and don’t know which can be a very useful study tool.

(3) Checklist

Checklists are a great way to ensure that you are addressing all possible issues in an issue spotter exam and to ensure that you are addressing all elements or parts of a rule for each specific issue. Checklists can also be a great mechanism for starting the process of memorizing information. All the very best to law students everywhere taking exams in the very near future! (Goldie Pritchard)

December 7, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Director of Academic Success Position at U of Idaho - Boise Campus

ASP Listserv information:

This is a newly created position, created to ensure that we continue to deliver excellent academic support to our students with the addition of the 1L year at our Boise location (scheduled to begin in Fall 2017). The successful applicant would serve as the Director of Academic Success at our Boise location.  (Nancy Luebbert continues to serve with distinction as the Director of Academic Success on the Moscow campus.)

For a full description of the position, and to apply, please see https://uidaho.peopleadmin.com/postings/16288.

And for those of you unfamiliar with Boise, you can check out some info here http://www.boise.org/ and here https://www.cityofboise.org/.

December 6, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Meet Alex Ruskell, Contributing Editor

Alex Ruskell

Alex Ruskell is the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and has degrees from Washington and Lee University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.  He is the author of A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student and editor of Strategies and Tactics for the Finz Multistate Method, Strategies and Tactics for the First Year Law Student, Steve Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers, Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, and several other educational and legal publications.   In a review of his wife’s first book, FumblingThe National Catholic Reporter noted "Alex is a saint.  Seriously.”  He is also the lead guitarist of Columbia, SC’s most sartorially challenged punk band, The Merry Chevaliers.

 

December 6, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Women in the Law

If you have not had an opportunity to view this series, I encourage you to have a look-see: Women in the Law. (Amy Jarmon)

December 5, 2016 in Diversity Issues, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

U of Colorado Director of Academic Support Position

Colorado Law is hiring a Director of Academic Support.  This is a newly-created, full-time instructor level faculty appointment.  A description of the position appears below; to review the full list of requirements and to apply, please use the following link:

https://cu.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=07639&lang=en&sns_id=mailto#.WDXPFn502GA.mailto

We’d like to have someone in place in early summer, or by the beginning of the 2017 fall semester at the latest.  We will begin reviewing applications on January 9, 2017, so for full consideration please submit your application by January 8.

The University of Colorado School of Law invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Support, a non-tenure track faculty position. Working closely with faculty and administration, the successful candidate will develop, enhance, and implement academic support courses and programs to assist students in the transition to law school, improve students’ academic performance in law school, and help students develop successful strategies for the bar exam.

Job Responsibilities

The Director of Academic Support will promote the academic success of students at the Law School.  In collaboration with the Associate Deans and the Senior Assistant Dean for Students, the Director will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop and teach curriculum for and teach second- and third-year academic support courses for credit;
  • Teach a section of a Legal Analysis, an academic support course for first-year students;
  • Assist with hiring, training, and supervising student fellows to provide peer-led academic support programs;
  • Develop curriculum for and lead a pre-Orientation program for a subset of entering first-year students;
  • Teach workshops on essential law school skills for first-year students;
  • Provide individual and small-group counseling on study skills, and feedback on student practice exams and exercises;
  • Identify students who are likely to benefit from ASP resources and encourage their participation in ASP programming;
  • Provide support for students and graduates as they prepare to sit for the bar exam;
  • Work with the law school faculty and administration on analysis of academic achievement and bar examination results and strategies for maximizing academic success and bar passage for Colorado law graduates.

Please use this link for more information and to apply for the position:

 https://cu.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=07639&lang=en&sns_id=mailto#.WDXPFn502GA.mailto

December 4, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reminder: Assessment Conference in March 2017

COMPLIANCE WITH ABA STANDARD 314: FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT IN LARGE CLASSES

 

Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law

Spring Conference 2017

“Compliance with ABA Standard 314: Formative Assessment in Large Classes” is a one-day conference for law teachers and administrators who want to learn how to design, implement, and evaluate formative assessment plans.  The conference will be interactive workshops during which attendees will learn about formative assessment techniques from games to crafting multiple choice questions to team-based learning.  Participants will also learn ways to coordinate assessment across the curriculum.   The conference workshop sessions will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Emory University School of Law.

Conference Content:  Sessions will address the following topics:

Why Assess: Empirical Data on How it Helps Students Learn

Games as Formative Assessments in the Classroom

Formative Assessment with Team-Based Learning

Creating Multiple Choice Questions and Ways to Using Them as Formative Assessment

Coordinating Formative Assessment Across the Curriculum

Conference Faculty:  Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga) and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga)

Who Should Attend:  This conference is for all law faculty and administrators.  By the end of the conference, attendees will have concrete and practical knowledge about formative assessment and complying with Standard 314 to take back to their colleagues and institutions. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law. 

Conference Faculty:  Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga), and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga).

Registration Information:  The registration fee is $225 for the first registrant from each law school.  We are offering a discounted fee of $200 for each subsequent registrant from the same school, so that schools may be able to send multiple attendees.  Details regarding the registration process will be provided in future announcements.

Accommodations:  A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees has been reserved at the Emory Conference Center Hotel for $159/night; at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Decatur for $99/night; and at the Decatur Holiday Inn for $159/night.  Details are on the Emory Law and ILTL websites.

December 3, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Books About UFOs

A lot of times when I do presentations for high school or college students, people ask me what they should major in if they plan on going to law school.  Most of the time I answer Religion or Philosophy for close-reading and logic reasons, but I recently decided to take a close look at my bar stats and see if I was right.  I still think I am, but I would also advise students to minor in something that forces them to be creative.

According to my recent stats on students who fail the bar exam, the vast majority of students who fail majored in Political Science (35 percent) in undergrad, while the rest largely majored in Communications, Business, or Pre-Law.  Granted, I was not looking at a particularly large group of students, and people who are interested in studying law in grad school probably gravitate to these majors as it is, but it did seem notable.

For new law students, one of the biggest things to get one's head around is the idea of a hypothetical exam where anything can happen and there is no absolute correct answer.  I was an English and Creative Writing Major, and I've done my best to avoid learning anything practical like Business or Math, but in my limited understanding of what goes on in PolySci, Comm, Bus, or Pre-Law, I don't think students in those disciplines get too many chances to really flex their imaginative muscles, or at least not in the same way as someone trying to write a poem or a short story or compose music might.

When I work with struggling students, one of the most helpful things I work with them on is helping them learn to "deeply imagine" (a term I borrowed from Ethan Canin of the Iowa Writers' Workshop) legal situations that might be presented to them.  For example, I ask them to imagine "So, you're in your office, and your client, a 15-year-old kid, has thrown a frozen turkey off an interstate bridge.  He didn't realize frozen turkeys bounced, and the turkey bounced through a windshield and killed someone.  He's in the chair directly in front of your desk, completely terrified.  Mom is next to him crying.  Dad is pacing back and forth, threatening to kill the kid himself.  How would you explain what crime the kid might be guilty of?"  When I can get them to see it that way, writing an answer in clear IRAC form, with counterarguments, without writing a prologue or wrap-up or spending too much time on some case they read in class, seems to change from an arbitrary writing tip to a completely sensible way to deal with the situation.  

Although many commentators have blamed the drop in bar exam pass rates on ability, intelligence, grit, or gumption, it might really be a product of the failure of the imagination.  In the modern era, "deeply imagining" practice is fairly hard to get.  As a Gen Xer, I might have been part of the last generation who had daily "deep imagination" practice.  If you are part of this generation or earlier, take a look at an old Atari 2600 game or a movie with any effects by Ray Harryhausen.  My children (10 and 12) are boggled that my mind could turn blue dots into space ships or cheesy dolls into the Kraken.  I've also never heard my children say they were bored -- ever -- even on car trips.  They have their books, movies, cartoons on demand, and video games.  They've never had to play car bingo or make something out of boxes to play with (unless they really, really wanted to).  "Deeply imagining" anything is not really necessary for happiness or entertainment anymore.

This morning on the way to school, I told my kids how my junior high friends and I had once made a shot-for-shot remake of the movie Airplane!  and convinced a good deal of the school to come to a toga party to celebrate (in retrospect, I have no idea why any of our parents agreed to a bunch of seventh graders reenacting a scene from  Animal House, but 1980s Texas was a lot weirder than people give it credit for).  My son kept asking me, "Were you a nerd or weirdo or something?"  My answer was, "Not really.  We roped almost everyone into it.  As kids, we were all kind of bored, and we had to entertain ourselves somehow.  That forced us to be creative."

When I went to law school, hypothetical questions seemed completely logical to me.  Exams were pretty easy because I could "deeply imagine" and SEE everything -- how the situation in the exam would look if it was happening to real people, and what I would need to say to them.  That skill was invaluable in law school, and I've worked hard to try to pass it on to students who might not have had as much practice with it as I did.  (Alex Ruskell) 

   

 

December 2, 2016 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chewing the Cud: Should You Be The Tortoise or the Hare in Exam Prep

With exams for many students in full swing, the question becomes how "paced" to "pace" oneself in between a series of final exams.  Let me offer one thought as you swing from preparing and tacking one exam to preparing and taking another exam.  

For most of us, because we are under significant time pressures to read, organize, and write final exam answers, we tend to approach our preparation efforts with the similar feeling (i.e., that we will never be able to finish a final exam on time) unless we spend most of our exam preparation efforts engaged in timed practice.  

In other words, we try our best to work on speed at all costs because we are so worried that we will never finish the exam.  But, if you work on speed, you will never get better...only faster.  And, that's where the story of the tortoise and the hare comes in.

You know the story.  The hare bolts but soon runs out of energy because she did not pace herself.  She practiced sprinting in the moment rather than running the race for the long prize.  

On the other hand, the tortoise - slow and methodical - just keeps plodding along, step by step, pace by pace, moment by moment, until, against all odds, the tortoise passes the hare and crosses the finish line to the astonishment of all...in first prize.  

You see, it is not true that those that write the most or finish the exam the quickest earn the best grades.  

Rather, success on final exams comes in showing your work, step by step, pace by pace, moment by moment, in solving legal problems as a professional attorney would do.  And, that requires not sprinting in bursts of practice but rather in thinking carefully and slowly and critically and methodically through lots of practice final exam problems.

In short, the key to doing your best work on final exams is to slow down your practice, to reflect on your reading, analysis, and writing, and to incorporate what you learn through each practice set so that you become better able to handle future legal problem-solving scenarios.

Let me give you another picture.  Perhaps you've heard the saying: "Chew the cud."  According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase means to "think slowly and carefully about the subject."  It's roots come to use from another animal account, this time dealing with cows.  

You see, cows are said to "chew the cud."  Unlike many animals that just swallow their food, cows are constantly chewing their food.  That's because the process of digesting food for cows requires a number of steps.  First, cows need to chew their food to moisten it in preparation for digestion and send it to a part of their stomachs that adds acids to further soften the food.  Then (and this is going to get a bit gross), the first bites of food are sent back to the mouth from the stomach (i.e., regurgitated) so that the cows further chew the softened food so that another part of the stomach can property extract the critical nutrients.  http://www.cattle-empire.net/blog/115/what-cud-and-why-do-cattle-chew-it   In short, cows can't get fed from food that doesn't get crunched, regurgitated, and then re-crunched again.  And, we can't do well on final exams unless we chew on exam problems, write out exam answers, and then review and re-write our answers so that we learn.

In brief, the short days in between exams should be filled with "chewing the cud" by slowly and methodically working through practice problems so that we learn how to get the most out of our preparation efforts for final exams.  Or, as another saying goes, "haste makes waste."  So, take your time and think carefully and slowly rather than hastily and carelessly as you work through practice problems in preparation for your next final exam.  (Scott Johns).

 

 

December 1, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I SHOULD HAVE COME LAST SEMESTER

Two of the most important workshops offered by our Academic Success Program (ASP) are consistently poorly attended. It may be because they are programs offered later in the semester or because students fail to recognize the value of the workshops until after exams. The first workshop is the Legal Analysis Workshop which addresses how to effectively issue spot, how to organize answers to essay questions, and how to develop effective analysis. Students with graded midterms seem to take the time to attend the Legal Analysis Workshop because they want to perform well on their exams or simply want to ensure that they can make positive adjustments prior to final exams. Most students are of the impression that they have a firm grasp of what is expected on exams and know how they will perform. However, for some, this is a false sense of confidence and students who really need this information to not seek it out.

The second workshop is an Exam Preparation Workshop which is presented in collaboration with our Student Affairs Office. This workshop is presented prior to Fall break to encourage students to make adjustments during the break. The workshop addresses various exam preparation skills such as memorization, resolving challenging concepts, developing a study plan given the time constraints, and applying information to multiple choice and essay questions. Once grades are posted, I am often visited by students who inquire about why we do not offer exam preparation support or help students learn how to take law school exams. I am often perplexed because the programs are advertised using a number of outlets. Students can also meet with the ASP directors individually, with Teaching Assistants who add these components to their sessions, and/or obtain information about exam preparation posted electronically. Once I inform them about all these opportunities and how to acquire the information; they either tell me that they were not paying attention or felt overwhelmed by other aspects of law school. They often say: “I should have come earlier” which always makes me smile. We leave the past behind and work on the tasks ahead, preparing for the next set of exams. 1Ls, please seek out academic support resources at your law school as it is never too late to receive help. (Goldie Pritchard)

November 30, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Are You Procrastinating?

As exams and paper deadlines approach, it is easy to procrastinate. Here are some clues that you are not using your time wisely and missing out on oomph in your studies:

  • You have alphabetized your casebooks and study aids on your bookshelf, sharpened three dozen pencils, hole-punched two hundred documents for pretty color-coded binders, made 1000 tabs for your code book, and straightened the drawers of your desk - but you have not actually studied yet.
  • Your apartment is spotless after you have done spring cleaning (after all you did not do it in April): scrubbed all baseboards, dusted every nook and cranny, washed all drapes and throws, polished the wood floors, shampooed the carpets, cleaned out closets, and polished the porcelain surfaces to a gleaming finish.
  • You have focused on Christmas shopping (Black Friday and Cyber Monday were just a start) and scoured every store for presents for family, friends, family pets, friends' pets, neighbors, neighbors' pets, distant relatives, the mailman, the cute barista at Starbucks, etc.
  • You have decided to decorate and ready your apartment for the holidays: put up your tree, hung the wreaths, strung the outdoor lights, made popcorn or construction paper chains to festoon your evergreen, baked cookies, hung stockings with care by the chimney, and wrapped endless packages in perfectly coordinated ribbons and paper.
  • You paint the living room, dining room, bedrooms, and kitchen, then redo the kitchen backsplash with an intricate mosaic that takes hours to finish, replace all countertops and the sink (you always wanted one of those farmhouse models), and decide to go shopping for new stainless steel appliances for the perfect look.
  • You write actual letters to every high school and college friend you every had (after all what says happy holidays like a handwritten missive), talk for hours on the telephone with every relative, review the 2000 emails in your inbox to see what might need deleting, and read every piece of junk mail that lands in your real-world mailbox.
  • You set a goal to study right after you watch every episode for all seasons of Downton Abbey or become world champion on your favorite gaming indulgence whether that is Pokémon Go, solitaire, or the latest really cool video game.

Do you think I am kidding? All of these scenarios reflect procrastinating law students I have known with very little exaggeration in the details. (Amy Jarmon) 

November 29, 2016 in Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 28, 2016

ABA Actions on Three Law Schools

An update on University of North Texas can be found here: UNT Second Chance. An update on Valparaiso and Charlotte can be found here: ABA Actions.

November 28, 2016 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Grow a Forest While Avoiding Distractions

One of my law students has told me about an app that she is using to stay focused while she is studying:  Forest App. The app is free for Android phones (of course with ads) and modestly priced for others.

The app reminds me of Pomidoro (the tomato for those of you who visualize rather than have name recognition). You can choose the number of minutes that you want to stay focused: 10 minutes up to two hours.  

If you avoid distractions for 30 minutes, your animated sapling begins growing into a tree right before your eyes. Platitudes such as "What you plant now you will harvest later" and "You are almost there" pop up at intervals. 10 - 25 minutes grows a bush.

Keep planting trees through 30-minute sessions of focusing to get a woodland, and eventually a forest. You can track your daily progress and view your woodland.

If you get distracted away from your tree, the sapling or tree dies - in fact if you tap "give up," the app will remind you that you will kill your cute little tree. Definitely a visualization of the cost of losing focus!

Like many of these apps you can cheat - walk away from task and let the timer run or go to another screen before returning to task, for example. But, as long as you care about being more productive and stay honest, it works as a good focus timer.

The press kit and some reviews of the app talk about how users can earn virtual credits/gold coins that will result in real trees being planted in deforested areas through a tie-in with WeForest. I earned 9 gold coins for a 25-minute session and 3 gold coins for 10 minutes. It apparently takes 2500 gold coins to plant a real tree

For those of us who are environmentally friendly, the real-tree incentive can help us stay on task, so the earth benefits from our study or work efforts. (Amy Jarmon)

November 27, 2016 in Miscellany, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Is Exam Study Like Thanksgiving Leftovers?

Thanksgiving is over - except maybe the leftovers. Most folks end up with a surfeit of turkey, dressing (stuffing to some of you), sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, succotash, greens, biscuits, cranberry sauce, gravy, sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, etc. Your refrigerator's stock may look different depending on your region of the country, culinary tastes, and family traditions. However, leftovers are pretty universal everywhere after the big day.

Some people love the leftovers better than the initial feast! Others groan every time they look at all of the food still waiting to be eaten. Exam study strikes many law students the same way that leftovers are viewed.

For some students, exam study is better than the semester's courses. They are into pulling it all together (yes, you can use that fancy word "synthesizing" that law professors love) and finally understanding what the semester was about. They love the accomplishment of focusing on the main concepts and applying them (finally) to practice questions. For them exam study is a delightful feast of previously unrecognizable and half-baked concepts that now are fully learned and understood. A delicious culinary delight, rather than dreary leftovers! (They do not love exams, mind you;  but they love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with their exam review.)

For other students, exam study is a dreaded rehash of an already eaten meal. They have gotten the gist of the course all semester and were fully satisfied with just that - a gist. Now they are being forced to sit down and eat the meal a second time - leftovers that they did not consume the first time: nuances in the law, precise rule statements, specific methodologies to use. They just want the leftovers gone and may try to feed the sweet potato casserole under the table to the dog (messy to say the least). In an effort to avoid the leftovers they do not like, they may go straight for dessert and focus only on the parts they have already mastered or the topics they like most. Some of these students will get up from the table so often during the review process that they never really savor the meal at all.

Both of these types of exam studiers, although different in perspective on the process, are basically cramming the Thanksgiving meal at the end of the semester. Next fall semester, they will enjoy it more if they take small bites throughout the semester, savor it day by day, digest it slowly, and proclaim its tasty merits along the way. Then they will be truly well-fed all semester and be able to eat in moderation at the big meal. They will have the ability to pick and choose from leftovers rather than overeating because they did not get enough nourishment over the semester. They will avoid the heartburn of cramming all of it down at the very end. (Amy Jarmon)  

   

November 26, 2016 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Readers,

All of us at the Law School Academic Support Blog wish you a healthy and happy Thanksgiving Day.

We are thankful for all of you who read the blog!

Best regards,

The Editor and Contributing Editors

 

November 24, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fall Break Considerations

As my students left for fall break, my advice to them was plan for a healthy balance between rest and academic productivity.  Catching up on sleep and recharging for the exam preparation period and for exams is imperative.  My students had a significant assignment due prior to fall break so this is a much-needed opportunity to reclaim some Zzz’s.  I also encouraged students to accomplish some of the heavy lifting they need to achieve prior to exams.  By heavy lifting, I do not mean taking on ambitious feats such as starting and completing outlines for every single course.  Yearly, students boast these plans but seldom, if ever, do they accomplish them.  The focus should be on smaller goals that students would not have time to otherwise accomplish while balancing classes during the semester.  Goals such as simply identifying concepts they do not understand and dissection those concepts or making a list of items to discuss with professors during office hours.  Goals such as reviewing or completing outlines for one or two courses are also effective. Quality over quantity is very important.  Doing what is best for you rather than simply mimicking what others are doing.

As an ASPer, I experience the same challenges my students face. How do I find the perfect balance between maximizing student free days and rest?  When students are away, meetings and other administrative demands seem to increase.   I also like to address a few things on my to-do list that I have neglected throughout the semester.  This year, I had an unrealistic laundry list of things to do but only managed to complete a few tasks and I have to be okay with this.  This was a unique semester which put significant demands on my time and included a number of early mornings and late night meetings.  I have neglected my family so I have to reconnect with them and unplug from work for a little bit.  This is a necessary challenge because like the students, I am a human being too and should take care of myself.  Happy Holiday Season to all and PLEASE get some rest.  (Goldie Pritchard)

November 23, 2016 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard on a Top Ten Honor

Congratulations to Goldie Pritchard for being chosen for a Top Ten Blog Posts by Texas Bar Today for her post Hidden Duties of Aspers.

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_June2016

November 22, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Making Wise Decisions Regarding Study for Thanksgiving Break

Thanksgiving is almost upon us. Wow, the semester went by fast. As you go into Thanksgiving Break and exam study mode, here are some suggestions:

 

·         Add any new material to your outlines on the last class day before Thanksgiving Break so that your master documents for exam study are ready to use during the break.

·         If you are travelling during the break, consider whether you could get some studying done while on your journey:

o   Could you listen to study aid audio CDs to review material in a course during your drive?

o   Could you read through an outline while sitting in the airport?

o   Could you work through flashcards during that layover?

o   If travelling with another law student, could you discuss class material or quiz each other?

·         Remember that each study day has three parts to it: morning (8 a.m. – noon); afternoon (1 – 5 p.m.); evening (6 – 10 p.m.). Determine which parts of the day are your optimal study times.

o   When are you most alert and productive?

o   When can you schedule study time around family activities if you are going home?

·         On the morning of your first study day during the break, read all of your outlines through once. This read-through will accomplish several things:

o   It will refresh your memory on everything you covered this semester in each course.

o   It will give you a change to identify areas that you know well, need some work on, and need a great deal of work on before the exam in the course.

·         If you will have trouble studying while out of town, consider leaving town later or coming back earlier to optimize your study time here.

·         If studying at your family’s home will not work because of distractions, consider going to the local public or college library, the business center of your family’s apartment complex, or some other place to study.

·        Take Thanksgiving Day off if you can afford to do so with your exam study. You will feel better for having a holiday. And if you are with family, they will be happier with you for joining them for the day’s festivities and traditions.

·        Finish class preparation for the last class days after the break (if that is your law school's schedule) over the Thanksgiving Break if possible to open up more study time during the last class week.

o   Then you will need to review the material to refresh your memory before you go to class each day.

o   If you are flying home, photocopy the pages you have to read rather than take all of your casebooks with you.

·         If you have papers or projects due the week you come back, try to finish a final draft by Sunday night of the break so that the remaining time can be devoted just to editing, citation checks, and printing the paper.

·         Do a final update of your outlines for new material on the last class day after the break for each course. You want to be ready to study on the first reading day and not play catch up.

 

Have safe travels and a happy holiday this week. (Amy Jarmon)

 

November 21, 2016 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Reaching Students through Facebook and Twitter

This semester I decided to add Facebook and Twitter to our outreach efforts with law students to provide information about study and life skills as well as announcements. I try to write two or three Facebook posts each week that are a bit "meaty" but not too long. We always tweet a quote of the week and study tip on Twitter as well as links to the Facebook posts. I could not have tried this new marketing method without the able assistance of my Sr. Business Assistant, Emily Rapp, who takes care of all the technical aspects.

Please visit us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TexasTechLawAcademicSuccess) and Twitter ( https://twitter.com/TTULawOASP). I would welcome suggestions from those of you who have been using these tools for longer! (Amy Jarmon)

November 20, 2016 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)