Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ways to prevent zoning out in class

Although the reasons for zoning out in class may vary for students, there are some techniques that work for many students so that they can stay focused.  All of the techniques have active learning in common.

  1. Sit where you will be less distracted by hallway noise or classmates who chatter during class.   

  2. Avoid the back rows in a large lecture hall.  These seat choices can be deadly because students feel less part of the class and tend to not pay attention.

  3. Ask a question in class to stay engaged in the discussion.  If you are well-prepared you will not have to worry about whether it is a "dumb" question.

  4. Volunteer in class rather than sitting on the sidelines.  Participation makes it impossible to zone out.

  5. Whenever the professor calls on another student, answer the question silently in your head.  Compare your answer with the other student's answer and listen/watch for the professor's reaction.  You will be an active listener using this technique.

  6. Avoid distracting yourself by surfing the net, emailing, or playing solitaire.

  7. Prepare thoroughly for class and review for 1/2 hour before class.  You will be less likely to become confused during class.  And, you will be more confident about volunteering or asking questions.

  8. List four or five questions that you hope the professor will answer during class so that you stay engaged listening for those answers.

  9. If you take notes on your laptop but are a visual learner, keep a pad handy so that you can convert information into visuals that occur to you during class.  You can also capture the professor's graphics more easily. 

  10. Get enough sleep during the week.  You should aim for 7 hours minimum.  Tiredness can cause you to zone out very easily.

  11. Avoid distractions that you can control.  Wear layers so that you can adjust for classrooms that are too warm or too cold.  Carry light snacks to eat before class so that hunger will not distract you.  Stay hydrated so thirst does not have you wishing for the end of the hour.

Professors often draw out legal nuances in class discussion that students miss because they were not paying attention.  I even talk to students who missed out on discussion about the exam that other classmates clearly heard in class. 

Becoming a better listener is an essential skill in law school.  It is also essential in practice.  (Amy Jarmon)   

October 28, 2009 in Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Director of ASP Position at Michigan State

Job Posting for Director of the Academic Success Program Position

Michigan State University College of Law invites applications for the position of Director of the Academic Success Program, with an anticipated starting date of July 1, 2010. This is a full-time position and, depending upon the applicant’s qualifications, the Director of ASP will be hired as a faculty or staff member.

The Director of the Academic Success Program will have primary responsibility for working with students to help them adjust to the academic demands of law school and to develop skills to reach their full academic potential for performance in law school, on the bar exam, and after graduation.  Responsibilities include:

  • Designing and implementing innovative academic support programs;
  • Teaching workshops and/or classes for students who need academic support;
  • Working with students in individual and small group sessions;
  • Designing and assisting with the law school’s bar exam preparation classes, workshops, and events.

Applicants should have a J.D.; a solid academic record; strong organizational and interpersonal skills; the ability to work collaboratively with faculty; and excellent writing and speaking skills. Applicants should also be licensed to practice law in at least one jurisdiction. Experience in a law school academic support program or other relevant teaching experience (including experience as a teaching assistant during law school) and/or an advanced degree in education, psychology, or counseling is desirable. Law practice experience without teaching experience will generally not be sufficient.

Applications should be sent by email to Kathy Payne, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, at

Michigan State University is the nation’s premier land-grant university, established in 1855. More information about the Law College can be found at

MSU is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The University actively encourages applications from and nominations of women, people of color, veterans and persons with disabilities.


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

Learning Buffet for Visual Learners

When working with my visual learners, I remind them that visual learning has a "buffet" of strategies and techniques from which they can choose.  Each visual learner will have an individual assortment of favorites from that buffet. 

Some visual learners have to remind themselves of their favorite selections from secondary education or college.  Somehow at the start of law school, they abandon what worked for them previously as if the strategies could not possibly work with legal information.

Here are some selections from the learning buffet for them to consider:

  • Bullet-points for lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Bold, underlined, italics
  • All capitals
  • Different fonts
  • Different sizes for fonts
  • Text in different highlighted colors for printing
  • Different indentation levels for hierarchy
  • Symbols
  • Abbreviations
  • Textboxes
  • Graphic organizers
    •  Mind maps or spider diagrams
    • Tree diagrams
    • Yes-No decision maps
    • Venn diagrams
    • Time lines
    • Tables
    • Columns
    • Pie charts
    • Graphs
    • Organizational charts
  • Use of different colors for
    • Case categories: facts orange, issue yellow
    • Brief categories: facts orange, issue yellow
    • Points in handwritten notes: rule orange, methodology purple, important point red, policy green
    • Different parts of outline: rule orange, methodology purple, policy green
    • Categories for book tabs: formation of a contract red, statute of frauds green, parole evidence yellow OR topics red, subtopics green, sub-subtopics yellow
    • Memorization prompts: intentional torts blue, negligence green
    • Hierarchy within graphic organizers: main topic orange, subtopics green, sub-subtopics blue
    • Courses: torts orange binder and highlighters, contracts green binder and highlighters

Thre are a number of different options for students who wish to convert text into something more visual.  To name just a few, students can turn to:

  • PowerPoint
  • Smart Draw
  • One Note
  • Inspiration
  • Mindmeister

We often are unaware of the variety of graphic organizers that are available to us.  A number of helpful sites with examples can be found by doing an internet search for "graphic organizers free" or "graphic organizers for teachers."

Most visual learners have other absorption learning styles that they should use in addition to their visual learning: aural/oral and/or kinesthetic/tactile.  And, visual learners still need to use verbal learning effectively - they cannot ignore reading and writing.  (Amy Jarmon) 

October 27, 2009 in Learning Styles | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Assistant Director ASP Position at UNLV


The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications for the position of Assistant Director, Academic Success Program. The law school seeks a person who will be responsible for assisting the Director of the Academic Success Program in administering programs aimed at improving law students’ academic skills and ensuring success on the bar exam. 


UNLV is a comprehensive research university of approximately 28,000 students and 3,100 faculty and staff dedicated to teaching, research, and service. The university has internationally recognized programs in hotel administration and creative writing; professional degrees in law, architecture, and dental medicine; and leading programs in fine arts, sciences and education. UNLV is located on a 332-acre main campus and two satellite campuses in dynamic Southern Nevada.  For more information, visit us on-line at:


Reporting to the Director of the Academic Success Program and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, responsibilities include counseling students in order to assist students with their legal studies, monitoring and training student mentors, assisting in curriculum development for the bar passage program, counseling current students and alumni on bar passage issues, and conducting seminars for the first year class. 


A competitive applicant for the Assistant Director of the Academic Success Program position must have excellent writing and editing skills, a strong ability to counsel and mentor students, superior public speaking skills, very strong grades and a Juris Doctor from an ABA-approved law school, and membership in a state’s bar.  Prior academic support experience (either professional or as part of a graduate or law school program) or teaching experience (i.e., legal writing or comparable teaching experience in writing and analytical skills training) is preferred.


Salary competitive with those at similarly situated institutions.  Position is contingent upon funding. 


Submit a letter of interest, a detailed resume listing qualifications and experience, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three professional references who may be contacted. Applicants should fully describe their qualifications and experience, with specific reference to each of the minimum and preferred qualifications because this is the information on which the initial review of materials will be based. The review of materials will begin immediately, and will continue until the position is filled. Materials should be addressed to Professor Robert Correales, Search Committee Chair, and are to be submitted via on-line application at  For assistance with UNLV’s on-line applicant portal, contact Jen Martens at (702) 895-2894 or

UNLV is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Educator and Employer Committed to Achieving Excellence Through Diversity.

October 26, 2009 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)