Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, June 10, 2011

Feedback on student work

This is a short post as a reminder about feedback on student work. HT goes to Paula Manning, who reminded me at the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning conference lsat Thursday that what we write matters to student success.

1) White space is good.

Too much verbiage on the page overwhelms students.

2) Institute a "top 3 areas for growth" policy.

Try giving comments on the top 3 areas where they need improvement, instead of commenting on everything that can be fixed. By explicitly telling students you are not commenting on everything, you prevent them from thinking that the non-commented parts of the paper are strong.

3) Think about rubrics.

Instead of reserving your feedback to comments on the page, think about a rubric that covers the main points of the exam. You can check whether a student has hit the point by marking it on the rubric. It preserves white space on the paper, and gives students an idea about their overall grasp of the subject area.

4) Think globally.

If you read the paper without making comments once, and then making comments on the top three areas for growth. What you will find is that students generally makes the same mistakes over and over throughout a paper. If you read through the paper once, you may only need to mark three areas for growth, but each area for growth shows up multiple times in the paper. After making the comment once, star * the other places in the paper where the mistake comes up again.

5) Avoid red pens, big X's, and rhetorical questions.

Another way to say this is to remind you to reign in your own frustrations. Some students feel red ink "bleeds" on the paper. Big X's say "You did nothing right and you will fail." Rhetorical questions are not particularly helpful to students. Instead of asking questions like "Why?" try to comments explicitly about the weakness and how to fix it. When you find yourself ready to write a rhetorical question, rephrase the question to reflect advice and suggestions. If you usually write "Why?" try writing "This is conclusory. Please show every step of your thinking. If you leave out which relevant facts you are considering, the reader cannot follow your analysis."


June 10, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A new resource: Learning outside the box

Leah Christensen, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, has recently published a book entitled, Learning Outside the Box: A Handbook for Law Students Who Learn Differently.  The book covers specific strategies for law students with learning disabilities, reading disabilities, ADHD, Asperger's, or other learning differences.  The author notes in her introduction that other law students can also benefit from the strategies.  I just received my copy in the mail today and am looking forward to learning additional ways that I can help my students who learn differently.  (Amy Jarmon) 

June 9, 2011 in Books, Disability Matters | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

University of San Diego part-time instructors for Introduction to the Study of Law

PART-TIME TEACHING POSITIONS University of San Diego School of Law


The University of San Diego School of Law invites applications for the position of Part-Time Instructor for the 2011-12 academic year.   Instructors teach the required first-year Introduction to the Study of Law course, a 1-credit, fall semester-only course designed to provide an introduction to the legal system and assist in the development of analytical reasoning skills. USD seeks those willing to collaborate with a creative, experienced team to achieve excellence in teaching and learning.


The primary responsibilities of each instructor include teaching classes, preparing student assignments, commenting on student work, and counseling students during scheduled office hours.  Each instructor will likely teach two sections of approximately 80 students. A doctrinal faculty member will serve as a guest lecturer in several classes.  Instructor contracts run from July 18th through December 18th.  The position is not benefits-based and the salary is $12,000 for the semester.


Applicants must have a JD degree, a strong academic record, excellent writing skills, at least one year of legal work experience post-JD graduation, and either a demonstrated aptitude for or experience in teaching.  




Applicants should submit the following: 1) cover letter discussing the applicant’s qualifications for the position and reasons for wanting to teach the course; 2) resume; 3) law school transcript; 4) names, telephone numbers, and email addresses for three references. 


Please submit application materials to: Emily Scivoletto, Assistant Dean for JD Student Affairs, University of San Diego School of Law, 5998 Alcala Park, Warren Hall 130, San Diego, CA 92110-2492.  The deadline for submission of applications is June 20, 2011. Applicants must be available for telephone interviews the week of June 20, 2011 and in-person interviews (with a 5-7 minute teaching demonstration) the week of June 27, 2011. 


The University of San Diego does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristic. 


For additional questions, please contact Emily Scivoletto at or 619-260-6851.


June 9, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meeting announcement for "Helping the Helpers: ASP Basics from Orientation to the Bar"




DATE:              August 4-6, 2011


(Guests should plan to arrive early in the evening August 4 and to leave either in the evening of August 6 or the next morning.  The formal program will go two full days – August 5 and 6.  In addition, there will be a reception on August 4 and there will be hosted dinner outings on the evenings of August 5 and 6.)


REGISTRATION FEE:  $35 (Registration form attached to this e-mail.)


LOCATION:     Western State College of Law

                        1111 N. State College Boulevard

                        Fullerton, CA 92385

                        (714) 738-1000          


DESCRIPTION:  The purpose of the workshop will be to equip attendees with the basic tools necessary to work with the diverse population of students whom academic support professionals serve.  Topics covered will include (1) overall program design, (2) orientation and first semester programs, (3) later semester programs designed for struggling students, and (4) bar preparation.  Attendees also will be given “lessons in a box” to use in their own programs.


                        A more detailed agenda will follow.


WHO SHOULD ATTEND:  This program is designed for/open to professionals who have been working in academic support for three years or less.  The maximum number of attendees is 50.  If we do not reach maximum capacity, the program will be opened to additional participants.


HOTEL INFO:   Fullerton Marriott at Cal State University



To book online, guests can go to and enter the codes below under "group code":


LSALSAA for one king bed

LSALSAB for two double beds


                        Conference rate: $99/night (Must be booked by July 19, 2011)



We hope to see many of you there.  Look for other e-mails from us with information about the other workshops shortly.




The LSAC Academic Assistance Topical Workshops Planning Subcommittee:

                Russell McClain, Chair

                Paula Manning

                Odessa Alm

                Hillary Burgess

Kent Lollis

LSAC Staff


June 8, 2011 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Looking for work in ASP (Rebecca's perspective)

Amy's post was fantastic. I cannot add to her list. My first point will be to anyone, new or established, to print Amy's post, and look at it when you are considering a job.

I am going to go more narrative here, and expound on Amy's list by explaining why these things matter.

1) You need to know yourself and your preferences.

It is a serious mistake to think you will be comfortable teaching any type of ASP that comes your way. As Amy mentioned at the start of her post, ASP varies dramatically from school to school, far more than doctrinal teaching. If you prefer classroom teaching, make sure you are looking for a school that has you in a classroom, not just in 1-1's with students. Maybe you love working with students 1-1, but find the classroom too impersonal. I know of an ASPer who mentioned at a conference that she was sure that all students could succeed if the ASP professional at their school could meet with them 1-1 everyday. I cringed; I believe students learn best from each other in a classroom led by skilled teacher; I don't believe 1-1's are universally effective for reaching all students. Don't assume one type of teaching is interchangeable with another; they are not the same. To be your best, you need to know yourself and your preferences. Don't make the mistake of thinking "But I just want to get my foot in the door, and then I will move to a place with a better fit." If you washout because the school is looking for someone you cannot be, then it will be very difficult to move on to a different school. Take the time to choose a job where you can shine.

2) You need to know  you will be comfortable with the management style.

This is toughest for people coming from non-teaching positions. Do you like a lot of oversight, and someone who you can check-in with if you are struggling? Or do you feel that is micro-managing and intrusive? One person's heaven is another person's hell. Be sure you ask a lot of questions about the type of oversight, and ask them in different ways to different people. The person who will be your superisor may think they are very hands-off because they only visit your office once or twice a week. Other supervisors may think they are very supportive, but never see the inside of your office for your first year--they believe you will come to them if you need something. Ask your predecessor (if you have one) as well as people in legal writing (your closest colleagues if you are in a one-person ASP) about how they are managed.

3) You need to understand you can go from being a superstar at one school, to a washout at another.

Some of the very best in ASP spent time at a school where they did not succeed in creating the program they wanted to create.  Ask them about it at a conference; many people are very comfortable talking about their time at a school that wasn't a fit. It has nothing to do with tiers, or resources, or rankings. Every school has a culture, and you have to be sure you will work in that school's culture. Believing that you are a universally brilliant teacher who can teach ASP at any school displays an unfortunate disregard for the realities of the field. Culture is more than the faculty; it's the students and the location of the school. Students can feel like they want support, and you can feel like they are seeking a program of learned helplessness. It's a matter of perception, not right or wrong.

I have spoken to new ASPer's who feel they are invincible because they are successful at their school, after only a year or two in the field. I have spoken to ASPer's who feel like they can do no right, although they are applying the advice of every leader in the field. Make sure you understand that it may not be you, it may be that you are a good or bad fit with the school.

4)  Keep an open mind.

ASP is an amazing, diverse field. It is changing by leaps and bounds. Keep an open mind about the field and what schools are looking for you to do. Keep an open mind about experimental programs. Don't be afraid to push your own boundaries. Look for growth in a position.

I hope everyone finds a wonderful fit, and for newbies, I look forward to meeting you soon.


June 7, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Part-time Coordinator of Academic Support position at Cardozo

PRF 10419- Coordinator of Academic Support

The Coordinator of Academic Support will provide assistance to students to help them develop the skills needed to succeed academically.  The position reports to and is supervised by the Director of Lawyering Skills and Legal Writing. 



  • Provide one-on-one guidance and tutoring.
  • Coordinate tutoring sessions and a variety of small and large group workshops.
  • Develop materials and resources on the skills and information needed for success in law school.
  • Address class preparation, time management and exam skills (writing answers and interpreting results constructively) as well as case synthesis, the organization of written documents, and integrating doctrine with legal analysis.
  • Assess and triage student requests for tutoring.
  • Recruit, train, assign, supervise and evaluate tutors in the academic support program.
  • Develop expertise on aspects of the Bar exam to help improve Cardozo graduates' Bar passage rate.



  • J.D. degree from an A.B.A. approved law school; strong law school credentials.
  • Ideal candidates will have experience working in a higher education setting in the areas of teaching, academic assistance, academic counseling or similar administrative, teaching, or practice experience.


Skills and Competencies

The Coordinator of Academic Support should have:

  • Excellent interpersonal and organizational skills, and a passion for working with students;
  • Foster, encourage and facilitate open communication and an atmosphere of open expression;
  • Continually search for ways to increase satisfaction of faculty, students, staff and other constituents;
  • Demonstrated leadership, management and administrative skills; and
  • Demonstrated ability to devise and implement innovative programming.


For more information about Cardozo Law School and the Legal Writing Center, please visit  For more information and to apply for the Academic Support Coordinator position go to to view the live posting.


June 6, 2011 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)