Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, October 27, 2006

LSAC Southwest Regional Workshop Updates

The two hotels have provided slight extensions to the deadline to get the conference room rates. Hawthorne Suites will allow room reservations through midnight on October 31st. Lubbock Inn will allow room reservations through 6:00 p.m. on October 31st. Hawthorne Suites (806) 765-8900 conference rate code "LSAC." Lubbock Inn (800) 545-8226 conference rate code "LSAC, #G00022-04."

The list of speakers included on the program is below.

Michael Hunter Schwartz, Washburn University School of Law: Best Practices for integrating academic support into the first-year curriculum, influencing faculty, and designing introductory programs. Followed by working groups on each topic led by Michael Hunter Schwartz, David Nadvorney, CUNY School of Law, and Amy L. Jarmon, Texas Tech University School of Law

Martha M. Peters, Iowa University School of Law: Best Practices for moving forward in academic support: assessment of accomplishments and focus on the future

Ellen L. Swain, Vermont Law School: Best Practices for working with law students with learning disabilities and ADHD

Vernellia Randall, University of Dayton School of Law: Best Practices for assuring academic achievement and bar passage for Black, Hispanic and other law students of color or why a good academic support program is not enough

Dennis Honabach, Dean at Northern Kentucky University School of Law, and Walter Huffman, Dean at Texas Tech School of Law: Best Practices for workling with deans on budgeting and administration

Amy L. Jarmon, Texas Tech University School of Law: Best Practices along the P-20 Pipeline to Increase Diversity

Vinita Bali, Santa Clara University School of Law: Best Practices for designing and supervising upper-division students as structured study-group leaders and tutors

Rory Bahadur, St. Thomas University School of Law: Best Practices for evaluation of academic support programs

Robert Coulthard, Oklahoma City University School of Law, and Everett Chambers, Texas Wesleyan School of Law: Best Practices for credit and non-credit bar prep programs to maximize bar passage

Nancy Soonpaa, Texas Tech University School of Law: Best Practices for developing a working knowledge of learning theory in academic support programs

Newcomers Breafast Roundtable: Moderator: Nancy Soonpaa, Texas Tech University School of Law with the Planning Committe Members in attendance

Remember that Saturday night is West Texas hospitality at the National Ranching Heritage Center with barbeque (brisket, chicken, and sausage with all the fixings) and Lone Prairie playing Country & Western swing and fiddle music.

The web pages for additional information can be found at LSAC Southwest Regional Workshop.

October 27, 2006 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Study Gangs?

I recently was at the receiving end of law school gossip which, while it was hearsay, was still fairly juicy. Evidently, at an event where many law students congregated (did I mention the open bar?); a fist fight broke out between two former study group mates who are now second year students. A number of “satellite” fights also broke out around this major fight, but that information (to take this space analogy too far) was far too nebulous to report here. The student informer described it as, “study group gone bad.”

I can see how this might happen. Certainly there can be bad blood among members of a study group once the grades come in. I have had many students who are in academic distress tell me that they were the “professor” of their study group, only to have the worst performance on their exams of the entire group. “How did I do the worst when I was explaining it all for them?” they ask me. And my answer is this: exam taking and studying are skills; unfortunately, they are two different skills.

Sometimes, the person who seems to have the keenest grasp of the material is the person who struggles on the exam because while they have understood the material well enough to pass it on to others, they have not worked on mastering the skills of exam writing (or taking). About a year ago, I wrote a blog entry on the difference between legal writing and exam writing (feel free to look at it again or for the first time….). I think I need to expand these thoughts to include the idea that studying (and doing your reading for class, etc.) is different than exam taking as well.

There are, of course, many variables. The expert studier may not perform well under pressure. Or, the expert outliner may not be flexible enough (again under pressure) to recognize old issues in new clothes: that is, issues arising using slightly different language than the professor used in class or was used in the casebook. The “professor” of the study group may be unskilled at prioritizing the issues in an exam answer and give each equal weight where that treatment is clearly not merited and can lead to a major time crunch on the exam. Finally, the perfectionist study group member may become panicked on the exam because, given the time constraints, perfection is impossible.

How do we prevent” study group gone bad”? The same way we get to Carnegie Hall. (Take the A, B, C, D, or 1 trains to Columbus Circle; the N, Q, R, or W to 57St./Seventh Avenue, or the E to Seventh Avenue. Don’t even get me started on the buses…). Really, the answer is practice, practice, practice. My very esteemed colleague, Professor Ramy has a great chapter in his book on this (Succeeding in Law School, Chapter X, also note the acknowledgements, pg. xiii, lines 2-3), on why study groups may not be the best strategy for studying.

The bottom line is this: to be ready for exams you need both a substantive and procedural approach (a little Civil Procedure review here): you need to be very familiar with the substance of the course as well as the procedure for taking the exam. A study group may help with the first skill, but students need to do practice exams (or hypos), under exam conditions and alone to really be prepared. Here’s a starting hypothetical for your students, “what tort(s) did the former study mates potentially commit against each other?”  Don’t forget the defenses. (ezs)

October 25, 2006 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

ADD, ADHD, and the Law School Experience

A reader suggested to me today that this blog devote some discussion to the difficulties faced by law students with ADHD.  I think the suggestion is a good one.  Let me begin, at least, with a recommended article.  Professor Robin A. Boyle recently published "Law Students with Attention Deficit Disorder:  How to Reach Them, How to Teach Them," 39 J. Marshall L. R. 349 (2006).

Among other things, the article gives a helpful overview of empirical research concerning ADD and ADHD, as well as the implications of that research for law school pedagogy.  Included in those implications are twenty-five insightful, practical suggestions for more effectively addressing the needs of law students with ADD and ADHD. (dbw)

October 24, 2006 in Disability Matters, Learning Styles, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)