Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, March 27, 2009

Academic Development Job at Santa Clara University

Co-Director of Academic Development

Santa Clara University School of Law

2009-2010 Academic Year

The Co-Director of Academic Development works closely with a fellow Co-Director and the Assistant Dean for Academic & Professional Development ("APD") to address the academic success of Santa Clara University Law School’s students from orientation through bar passage. These three faculty members, along with the Director of Externships and Professional Development and a Program Coordinator, make up the school’s APD Department.

The Co-Director will teach the equivalent of at least two credit-bearing skills courses targeting first and/or second year students in academic difficulty, ordinarily one class of 20-30 students each semester. Co-Directors also administer the selection and registration of students in these courses, and the hiring, training, and supervision of upper division students and adjuncts.

In addition, the Co-Director will perform the equivalent of two additional courses of instruction in the form of: intensive one-on-one academic tutoring and advising of at-risk students, contributions to the design and teaching of large-scale skills workshops and programs aimed class-wide from orientation through the first year and on through Bar passage, and participation in miscellaneous university programming and professional conferences.

Finally, the Co-Director must work closely with the APD team, as well as with doctrinal and legal writing faculty to design, coordinate, implement, evaluate, and improve the supplemental academic skills curriculum. In addition to long-term vision, the Co-Director must embrace day-to-day administration. These duties include, but are not limited to, organization and management of student eligibility determinations, course enrollments, practice examinations, individual and mass feedback, and collection, management, and analysis of sensitive student performance data.


* J.D. and a state bar admission.

* Prior teaching and/or academic support experience desirable.

* Experience in program management desirable.

* Ability to excel in teaching, counseling, and advising students from diverse backgrounds.

* Ability to think imaginatively, critically, and collaboratively about how to measurably improve student academic development.

This position is a full-time, non-tenure track, non-voting lecturer position, with the possibility of multiple-year contract renewals. Summer service in residence is required, with supplemental compensation provided for the summer term. Professional development is supported, and scholarship is welcome but not required.

Santa Clara University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer, committed to excellence through diversity, and, in this spirit, particularly welcomes applications from women, persons of color, and members of historically underrepresented groups. The University will provide reasonable accommodations to all qualified individuals with a disability.

Submit cover letter and resume to:

Assistant Dean Marina Hsieh

Academic & Professional Development

Santa Clara University School of Law

500 El Camino Real

Santa Clara, CA 95053-0448


March 27, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

LSAC Academic Assistance Training Workshop St. Louis June 3-6, 2009

As those of you on the Academic Support listserv know, Kent Lollis from LSAC posted a "heads up" regarding this year's St. Louis meeting.  Once the official announcement and registration materials come out in April, this website will post more information.

However, for the benefit of new ASP staff members who may not be on the listserv or who may not know about this bi-annual meeting, I wanted to mention it here.  You may need the lead-time to talk with your budget folks about monies to attend.

The bi-annual LSAC AATW is THE national conference for ASP folks.  The conference is always outstanding!!!!  Not only are the sessions superbly presented, but the materials that you receive are fabulous. 

ASP folks are the kindest, most generous, most innovative, and helpful folks in the world in my viewpoint.  For those of you who are new, this opportunity to meet other ASPers is invaluable.  You will make lots of connections with other professionals who will become your friends and mentors.  Conversations during the breaks often lead to swapping of additional materials and sharing of tips.

Questions can be sent to the planning committee members listed here or to Kent Lollis and his staff (  The Planning Committee includes: Paul Bateman, Southwestern (Chair); Joyce Savio Herleth, St. Louis; Jennifer S. Kamita, Loyola Marymount; Paula J. Manning, Whittier; Russell McClain, Maryland; and Jannell Lundy Roberts, Loyola Marymount (and Chair of the Diversity Committee).

I have included a few of the points that Kent included in his e-mail below for those of you who do not know the drill:

  • Registration materials will be made available in April.  
  • The conference begins with reception/dinner on Wednesday evening and ends Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
  • Registration will initially be limited to one person per law school.
  • Registration will be $100.  LSAC will pay hotel.
  • The topics include according to Kent's e-mail:

    • Introduction to the new LSAC Academic Assistance Website
    • Counseling students with disabilities
    • Working with students from different racial and cultural backgrounds
    • Basic elements in building an academic support program
    • Building a thriving academic support team
    • Basics of bar exam support
    • FERPA issues for the academic support professional
    • Deans’ perspectives on academic support and resource allocation
    • Securing resources for your program
    • Learning and technology
    • Creating a positive learning environment
    • Providing students with positive feedback
    • Supporting students in academic difficulty
    • Program evaluation tools

I hope to see many of you at the conference.  You will not be disappointed by this event.  (Amy Jarmon)

March 27, 2009 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Colorblindness and Power Point Slides

Hillary Burgess, Hofstra, mentioned to me that Kathleen Waits, University of Tulsa, (Faculty Profile) had done a posting elsewhere about colorblindness and Power Point slides.  I contacted Kathleen and she kindly povided a guest posting for me to include here.  (Amy Jarmon)

Guest Contributor: Kathleen Waits, University of Tulsa School of Law:

In recent months, I've seen a number of PowerPoints that used a green background - and sometimes used red letters for emphasis.

I'd like to encourage teachers who use Powerpoints to avoid green and red - not just in combination but either at all.  Likewise, turquoise and purple are not great.

A good 5% of men suffer from some form of red and green colorblindness, along with .4% of women.  I learned this a couple of years ago when a student had enough courage to share with me the difficulties he was having in seeing certain fonts and slides.

If you want to see how various colors look to various kinds of colorblind people (almost all colorblindness is in men, although .4% of women are red/green colorblind), you can go to:

But..I've actually hit on an easier solution.  I now do PowerPoints with a dark blue background and white and yellow letters.   EVERYONE can see these colors well. Another option is a "blackboard" style background of dark grey with white and/or yellow letters.  (Again, avoid green, red, turquoise and purple letters.)

And...of could always go with the basic white with black letters.  I don't because dark backgrounds with light-colored letters are more easily read, especially in rooms that are well-lit (as would be the case in most law school classrooms). 

If you somehow must use a red/green/tuquoise/purple background – I’ve learned that the key for the colorblind person is high contrast between background and text.  Therefore, you actually could use any background color (including green, red, purple and other "troublesome" colors) - as long as the background is pretty dark and the text is highly contrasting white or yellow.  The colorblind person wouldn't see the red or green "normally," but could still read the slide perfectly well.

March 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Condensing Monster Outlines

A number of law students spent their Spring Breaks catching up on outlining for each course and beginning to review specific topics for exams.  Some students will have lengthy outlines that include a great deal of detail (probably over 60 pages with 6 weeks to go still).  

Students who are prone to making lengthy "monster" outlines are often insecure about what they can safely leave out of the outlines.  Part of this dilemma may be a misunderstanding as to the purpose of the outlines.  Some students believe that course outlines need everything included because they will depend on them to study for the bar or to remember the law once in practice.

The purpose of a course outline is to manage information and to pass the final exam.  When it comes time to study for the bar exam, the bar review course will provide an enormous box of books with "everything you need to know for the bar exam."  Few students actually use any course outlines to study for the bar because 1) no professor can cover every topic that may be on the bar; 2) a law school course may have been too specific or not specific enough about state law, common law, or a uniform code; and 3) the law may have changed by the time one graduates.  Recent graduates tend to keep their bar review course outlines hidden in a desk drawer at work (rather than their personal outlines) for those anxious first months as a new lawyer.  After that time period, neither resource is used because they have "graduated" to other library resources that are state-specific or more updated as well as a personal foundation in their practice areas. 

Another reason students may have lengthy outlines with too much detail is that they are sequential-sensing learners who learn first through the parts, facts and details.  Only after they are comfortable with these stages can they begin to seek the bigger picture of a course.  However, they need to get to that overview with an understanding of the inter-relationships among the parts in order to succeed on their exams.  If they stay bogged down in details, they may miss issues, write about phantom issues, and run out of time on exams.  

It is more efficient to condense class notes and briefs before they are put into an outline.  That way the outline contains the essentials in a topic and sub-topic format rather than bogging down in details of cases.  Also, it takes less time to construct the outline if it is pre-condensed, so to speak.  However, this type of condensation is often easier for 2L and 3L sequential-sensing learners because they have more experience of what is unnecessary for exams.

Assuming that one is not able to let go of the details for the first outline stage, let's consider how to condense it afterwards.  Whether you will have an open-book exam where your outline is allowed or a closed-book exam where you have done extensive memorization, there is no time in an exam to leaf through a monster outline to find something - whether the leafing is done mentally or in real time.  Thus, one wants to have as few outline pages to consider as possible.

Someone once described the process of condensing outlines to me as a family tree.  The long first version is MASTER OUTLINE.  It should then be condensed to Son of Outline (approximately half the original size), then Grandson of Outline (half the size of the second version), Great-Grandson of Outline (5 - 10 pages at the most), and Great-Great-Grandson (the front and back of a sheet of paper).   

If memorized for a closed book exam, the one-pager is written on scrap paper as soon as the proctor says "begin."  It acts as a checklist for all exam answers.  (For the open book exam, it goes on top of the outline.)  The Great-Grandson of Outline is the next mental outline stage to think through for a missing rule or step of analysis.  One works back mentally through the versions if one needs more depth of information.  (In the open-book exam, the outlines are arranged from shortest to longest in a binder.)

I have never had a student tell me that she had time to go back further or needed more detail than Son of Outline during the exam.  And, many students admit that everything they needed was in the Great-Grandson of Outline.  Thus, staying tied to the monster outline is inefficient in the end.

Although a student may still start with the monster outline, it should be condensed in stages as indicated as one learns each section.  The most successful students will study the outline throughout the semester (or the remainder of the semester for those who have just started) and condense old material as they add new topics.  Thus, the outline will shrink and expand simultaneously until the final versions are produced.

If your students are skeptical that these methods will work, have them go back after their exams and highlight anything that they actually used in the monster outline on the exam.  They should then evaluate how much information they slaved over including that was ultimately unnecessary.  This exercise should help them learn what is essential for an outline and what is unnecessary.  (Amy Jarmon)


March 23, 2009 in Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)