Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Finally, my students who found themselves outside of good academic standing (would that be academic sitting? lounging? lying about?) have come to see me with their exams from last year (also known as, “the reason why I have to see you…..”). So now what?
I just had a student come by with three exams from last year. This student had not talked to the professors who graded these exams except, evidently, to request a copy. Copies in hand, the student came to me looking for the reasons why his/her grades were below par. One professor kindly included an outline of the major issues and how they were to be resolved as well as a copy of the exam itself, the others did not. None of the professors included their multiple choice questions or the student’s score on them.
So, I read the exams. I tried to decipher the various marks left by the professors. Some were easier than others, like the “?” or the “No!” But most of the marks were mere numbers to be added or subtracted from the student’s total for scoring purposes. So what else is there to do but call in my personal (that is: living in my head) Crime Scene Investigators.
First, I called in the spot the issues (“STI”) expert. The spot the issues expert examined whether, thanks to the outline provided by the professor, the student found all the possible issues to be discussed. Then, I called in the correct rules applied (“CRA”) guy who looked for whether the student had, in fact, not only spotted the issue, but actually used the correct tool to get a plausible answer. Finally, I consulted with my use the facts (“UTF”) expert who looked at whether the student used almost every fact contained in the question. These experts were only able to operate on this one exam because the professor had left me with some clues to work with. In the end, I had to ask the student to talk to at least one of the other professors.
As to the exam I could investigate most fully, I diagnosed a “kitchen sink” type of crime, that is: the student used every rule they knew and contained therein was the correct rule, but because there was so much superfluous analysis required for the issues that hadn’t really arisen, the real issues received short shrift.
I will have to file the other exams away until the student sees the other professors. Hopefully, in ten years, someone from “Cold Case: ASP” will be able to figure out what went wrong. (ezs)
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
In my sessions with law students, I often find that students who are struggling academically have severe problems with time management and curbing their tendencies to procrastinate. In fact, I had so many students admitting that they were serious procrastinators that I went in search of a practical book on curbing procrastination. Fortunately, I found an inexpensive and very readable book that has a positive impact on law students.
Dr. Linda Sapadin has written a book with Jack Maguire titled Beat Procrastination and Make the Grade: The Six Styles of Procrastination and How Students Can Overcome Them. Dr. Sapadin's book is based on her research with undergraduate and graduate students.
The six procrastination styles are: Perfectionist; Dreamer; Worrier; Crisis-Maker; Defier; Overdoer. Dr. Sapadin includes a survey instrument in the book that allows the reader to answer questions on the six styles and "score" the styles to determine which are major or minor problems. Sapadin then describes each style more thoroughly and offers practical suggestions for curbing that style.
Among the interesting points from Sapadin:
Procrastinators are not born with the tendency, but learn the behavior. Many people can even identify the role models for procrastination in their lives.
Procrastinators have self-talk "BUT" or negative statements that prompt them to procrastinate.
Procrastinators need to learn "AND" or positive statements that break the self-talk cycle.
Procrastination behavior also includes actions and reinforcement through talking to others.
Using logs to become more aware of self-talk and actions can assist students in curbing procrastination. (alj)
One of our readers, Professor Anna Hemingway at Widener University School of Law, has a request that I thought might be best sent out to the rest of our readers for responses. Below is her request, and you can reply directly to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. (dbw)
I have been charged with developing a program for incoming, at risk students. I was wondering if any of you have developed this type of program at your law school and would be willing to share how your program is structured. I am interested in finding out (1)when the program is offered (summer or first semester); (2) how at risk students are identified; and (3) what the program consists of. Thanks to anyone who can provide me with help.