Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Learning the Dance Steps

Suzanne Darrow Kleinhaus liked Amy Jarmon's post, "Dancing with the Stars Law School Version" (Oct. 18), and she boiled it into a checklist of questions that students can use to assess their own learning and that ASP professionals can use to diagnose problems.  I thought readers would find it helpful, so I've reproduced it below.

"Learning the Steps"

1. Have you learned the basic "dance" steps? 
       How to read cases?
       How to brief cases?
       How to de-construct statutes?
       How to outline?
       How to engage in an IRAC–based analysis?

2. Are you sensitive to the differences among the "dances"?
       Have you noticed differences among your professors' styles of teaching?
       Have you noticed differences among types of exams?
       Do you see that some courses may be more case-based (common law) or more code-based(statutory)?
       Do you see that some courses may be more policy-based or more methodology-based?

3. Have you learned the unique "rhythm" for each of your courses?
       Have you memorized the black letter law?
       Have you "become one" with the material so that your understanding is intuitive and flows?
       Do you see the large picture and the places where the individual pieces belong in that picture?

4. Do you practice to improve your performance?
       Have you made studying a priority?
       Do you spend hours perfecting your knowledge and understanding?
       Do you practice applying the law to new fact scenarios throughout the semester at every opportunity, to improve your understanding of nuances in the law and their application of the law to different facts?
       Does your organization of the analysis, both oral and written, flow with and from the material?

5. Do your evaluate your performance?
       After a poor practice session or exam, do you evaluate your difficulties?
       If your performance was not of the quality you expected, do you strategize how to change your approach?
       Do you persist in your practice to become more expert?

Dan Weddle

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