Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Why Global-Intuitive Students May Mistake Superficial Analysis for the Real Thing

Global processors are always looking for the big picture, the overview, or the roadmap in learning - they want to know the essentials and the end result.  Intuitive processors are curioius about concepts, abstractions, theories, and policies and seek out relationships among ideas - they are synthesis peole.  When these two breadth-processing styles combine as strong preferences, the learners can sometimes assume they know a course when they only know the gist of a course.

These processors are more tempted to take shortcuts in learning: skim a case, read the canned brief, produce a cursory outline, and write conclusory memos.  They often come out of exams with comments like "I guess I didn't know Torts as well as I thought."  They are shocked when reviewing an exam to see that they never analyzed element three even though they knew the analysis.  The analysis stayed in their heads instead of making it to the paper for the professor to grade.

Global-intuitive students tend to make mistakes on exams that stem from their breadth of learning without sufficient depth of learning, thinking, and organizing.  For example, on fact-pattern essay exams, they leave out the steps of their analysis because they think the professor will know how they got from point A to point D without having to lay it out.  It is true that the professor knows how to get there, but the professor needs to know that the student knows how to get there (rather than a lucky guess) to give points on the exam.  On multiple-choice exams, they tend to pick by gut rather than carefully consider every answer option.  Consequently, they look at the options that match their conclusion (guilty, admissible, liable) and miss the best answer that is not guilty unless, inadmissible unless, or liable only if.  Alternatively, they may not know which of two better answers is best because they do not know the nuances of the law on which the question turns.

There are several ways that global-intuitive students can help themselves to develop more in-depth understanding of the law and gain more points on exams:

  • Avoid shortcuts that tempt one to only know the gist of a course: canned briefs, scripts, outlines of other students.
  • Spend time memorizing the precise wording of the rules, definitions of elements, and other law so that one is not fuzzy on elements, factors, variations. or other items.
  • For essay exams: Write out fact-pattern essay answers instead of just thinking about them; get feedback from professors, teaching assistants, or classmates on the depth of analysis.
  • For multiple-choice exams: Complete lots of practice questions and read the answer explanations in the book to learn the nuances of the law rather than just the gist of the law.
  • Take the time to read, analyze, and organize an essay answer.  The rule of thumb is to use 1/3 of the time for a question to do these steps and then 2/3 of the time to write the answer.
  • Use a chart to organize the essay answer rather than hold information in one's head.  Rows can indicate the parties to the dispute.  Columns can indicate the elements or factors that need to be discussed.  One can enter facts, cases to be mentioned, and policy arguments in the appropriate cells as a careful read of the fact pattern is completed. 
  • When writing the essay answer, change the audience one writes to - instead of writing to the professor, write the answer as though explaining the law to a non-lawyer (your cousin, grandmother, little brother).  Connecting the dots is easier when writing to a lay audience.
  • When writing the essay answer, ask "why?" at the end of each sentence.  If an explanation for the statement is not there, keep writing and add the "because" to the sentence.
  • Carefully weigh each answer choice on multiple-choice tests; look for the best answer rather than the superficially right answer.
  • Slow down in exams and use all of the time given.  Global-intuitives tend to finish early which often indicates that they missed smaller issues, did not fully analyze the arguments, or did not read the questions carefully enough. 

  (Amy Jarmon) 


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