Saturday, December 13, 2008
At the NECASP meeting, it was mentioned that the Legal Writing listserv also functions as a place for scholars to bounce ideas around about things they would like to publish, questions about publishing, and general advice on writing as scholars. For a variety of reasons, that has not happened within Academic Support/Success.
Is there interest in creating a TWEN site (or something similar to a TWEN site) where people who want to publish on ASP topics can go to as a resource as well as a place to get advice from peers? I volunteer as the point person for creating such a site if there is enough interest. I know the (invaluable, wonderful) Mike Schwartz has mentored several of us through our first published pieces, and I have heard from a handful of other people that Mike is currently mentoring as they prepare their first pieces. The site could be a place for us to share ideas, but also share our accumulated knowledge.
Types of questions from newbie writers:
Where should I publish an article about ASP? Are there options outside of the Journal of Legal Education?
What is the best software for citations? How expensive is the software? Should I be able to get it from my school's IT office?
Although I have checked Westlaw/LexisNexis, and Googled, the topic I am interested in writing about, does anyone know of sources that I may have missed?
I am doing empirical research, but I need a few more schools as controls for my study. Does anyone know of a good school to contact? Who at the school should I contact for permission?
If you are interested, email me and I will get started if there is enough interest.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Regional Academic Support Organizations: Report from the New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Organizational Meeting
Here is a summary of what was discussed and decided at the first meeting of the New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals (NECASP). I am posting the summary of the meeting in hopes that other areas will decide to launch their own local ASP groups. The meetings do not need to be as formal as NECASP; but here is an idea of what one group decided to do.
The members in attendance reached the following decisions:
1. The primary goal of the New England Consortium of Academic Support Professionals will be to organize and present conferences on subjects relevant to academic support professionals.
2. Holding joint conferences will be a future goal of NECASP.
3. The primary focus of these conferences will be on practical topics (e.g. the methods of law school academic support), but conferences may also include presentations or sessions on academic/ scholarly topics relevant to academic support.
4. NECASP will establish a TWEN Webcourse to facilitate easier communication and to enable members to post documents, links, and other relevant information for the use of NECASP members. There will be a link from this TWEN webcourse to the ASP-blog’s compilation of academic support scholarship.
5. A Board of Directors will be established for NECASP. The current Board of Directors is: (1) Melinda Drew (Northeastern); (2) Rebecca Flanagan (Vermont); (3) Sunny Mullligan (Franklin Pierce); (4) Herb Ramy (Suffolk) (co-chair); (2) Louis Schulze (New England) (co-chair).
6. NECASP will hold one conference annually. It will also conduct a business meeting and/ or “local ASP discussion,” at a time and in a manner determined by the NECASP Board of Directors. A Business Meeting will be conducted in the Spring of 2009 to discuss the first conference.
7. The NECASP Board of Directors, based upon input from NECASP members, will determine when and where to hold the conferences and business meetings.
8. At the first Business Meeting, the membership will determine the scope of conference topics (i.e. very broad topics vs. a themed conference vs. specific topics).
9. A brief set of by-laws will govern NECASP. NECASP will also create a Mission Statement.
10. Membership in NECASP will initially be open to academic support professionals in the field of law, only.
Monday, December 8, 2008
When our new law school wing was completed in April, I was privileged to move over to a new office suite on the second floor. The view is spectacular because of a floor-to-ceiling windowed wall that looks out over the northwest section of campus. As the Broadway musical and song state, "On a clear day you can see forever."
Today I am watching a mammoth red dust storm roll in and the tumbleweed hurtle through the parking lot. Black clouds are collecting high in the sky above the red dust. The wind gusts right now are approximately 40 miles per hour. It was 70 degrees earlier, but snow is predicted by the morning commute. I can barely make out the university hospital at the northern edge of campus. Visibility outside town on the farm roads must be dangerously low.
No doubt, the storm outside reflects the turmoil in some of my students right now. For some of them, they never saw the storm coming. It was a blue-sky, sunny day before exams started. They did not know there was a cloud on the horizon because they did not realize how unprepared they were. After all, they were always successful in prior exams. All the warnings fell on deaf ears because they were so sure we all meant that everyone else might have problems, but not them.
On the first day of 1L exams, the sky suddenly grew black with storm clouds and red with dust. Their usual secure feelings of success during past exams had violently blown away. They probably feel right now as battered by winds and prickly tumbleweeds as the vehicles outside in our parking lot. Visibility is so dim for these students that success seems merely a memory. For most, it was too late to retrieve the situation after the first exam despite the gracious scheduling for 1L students.
As Rebecca stated in her posting yesterday, it is a time of distress for many students. We know that the storms will blow over with varied results: some students miraculously unscathed; some students' grade points decimated; and some students finding shelter elsewhere than law school.
Academic support professionals are often the ones dealing with the intensity of the storms and the aftermath. I agree with Rebecca that we need to remember that for each individual the storm is new. And, I agree that we need to listen with caring and compassion. After all, telling them that the Weather Channel predicted the storm does nothing for the clean up. (Amy Jarmon)
It's that time of the year again, and here is a brief reminder that we are entering the period when we will be seeing students in distress.
Types of distress we see immediately before finals:
- Students who are unprepared to take final exams due to lack of preparation.
- Students with anxiety or test-taking issues.
- Students with unexpected personal, familial, or financial issues that need immediate attention.
Strategies for students in distress:
- If they are unprepared to take exams, academic counseling is usually in order. Help them decide if law school is the right choice for them. Reassure them there is no shame in deciding law school is not the right path for them, or at this point in their life. Many, many very successful people started law school but decided not to complete law school; Gene Kelly, Carly Fiorina, Lex Wexner (he started The Limited stores), and Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Woodrow Wilson, both Roosevelts, and Harry Truman. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore also decided law school was not for him.
- If their test anxiety or generalized anxiety is untreated, let them know there is no shame in seeking professional help. The first semester of law school only happens once; it is a shame to waste the opportunity to do their very best because of pride.
- Students that experience unexpected life challenges need to assess their ability to take exams. I have no clear advice on this; if the student has been prepared all semester, it may be best for them to take exams rather than postpone them. If the student has struggled throughout the semester, it may be best for them to start over the following year.
The most important piece of advice is to remember than each student is an individual, and there is no one solution to a challenge. We may have seen or heard about their type of problem multiple times, but for the student, their challenge is heartbreaking and often, new to them. The most important thing to do is to listen; listen without judgment, listen without preconceived ideas, and listen with compassion. (RCF)