Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Interim Director Position at U of Dayton

The following information was on the listserv from Staci Rucker about this position in 2013-2014 and the job search for a full-time Director for future years:

The University of Dayton School of Law is looking to hire an Interim Director of Academic Success for the 2013-14 school year.  You may access the job posting here:

I have served as the Director of Academic Success at UDSL since 2007.  Effective May 16th, I will become the Assistant Dean of Students, hence the need to hire an Interim Director.  The Law School will conduct a search to permanently fill the Director of Academic Success position during the 2013-14 school year.  The person in the Interim Director position will be eligible to apply, if interested. 

UDSL is a wonderful place to work, led by a Dean and many faculty who are extremely supportive of the academic support program.  I will gladly speak with anyone who may be interested in the position. 

Kindest regards,


Staci P. Rucker
Lecturer in Law and Director of Academic Success Programs
University of Dayton School of Law
007 Keller Hall
Dayton, OH 45469-2772
Phone: (937) 229-4072
Fax: (937) 229-4769

April 13, 2013 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Law school instruction and the "spiral curriculum"

If you have been trained in educational theory or the philosophy of education, you made have heard the phrase "spiral curriculum" during your studies. The idea of a spiral curriculum comes from the work of Jerome Bruner, a highly influential professor of education, who went on to mentor Howard Gardner, the father of Multiple Intelligences. The spiral curriculum posits that students learn best when exposed to material repeatedly. As students gain understanding of the material, it is revisited with added depth and complexity. Another element of the spiral curriculum is that teaching should begin by building upon current knowledge.

Law school curriculum would be improved if it borrowed from the idea of a spiral curriculum. The first step, discovery, posits that students learn best when they "discover" knowledge on their own. Bruner wrote quite a bit about using discovery methods when teaching math. He even wrote about using the Socratic method when teaching math. When learning is based on a speaker and a listener (as is often the case in the law school classroom) the listener has to create their own knowledge. But most of the time, the listener gets bored and distracted. The listener is not engaged with the process of learning, they are not thinking of how to explain, expand, question, or criticize. The speaker is learning. If you change the dynamic, you change the learning process. Instead of telling students about a concept, create an environment where they can discover the concept on their own. This is the first step in a spiral because the discovery must be elementary. Students can revisit the concept in more depth, later.

How can we use discovery in the law school curriculum? Think about an introductory contracts class. Instead of lecturing on the elements of contracts, ask students to bring in a contract they have recently signed. Ask them to find the consideration in the contract. Then ask them to read cases on consideration. Make sure you  return to the contracts they brought to class; now ask them to define the benefit of the bargain for each party. Students are building knowledge of contracts by using what they know; a contract they have already signed. This also adds relevance to the material.  It allows them to engage with what they are learning, and keeps them engaged in the class. No one likes to be bored in class, and no teacher (that I know) likes to  lecture to blank faces tuned into computer screens. The spiral curriculum can help all of us stay engaged. (RCF)

April 12, 2013 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Podcasts from 2013 AALS Annual Meeting Available to AALS Member and Fee-Paid Law Schools

Jane La Barbera, Managing Director of AALS, recently e-mailed the following announcement.  If you are faculty or professional staff from AALS memer and fee-paid law schools, you would be able to access the podcasts.  Please notice the restrictions on access and use.  (Amy Jarmon)

"Over 70 sessions from the 2013 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans were digitally audio recorded. These recordings are available at no charge to faculty and professional staff from AALS member and fee-paid law schools.

Visit to download and listen to these podcasts from the 2013 Annual Meeting.

A user name and password is required to access the podcasts. Your user name is your primary e-mail address. If you do not have or do not remember your password, click the 'forgot password' link on the bottom of the login screen.

The podcasts are listed chronologically. You can browse by scrolling down, or search for a specific session by typing "Ctrl F" and then typing a keyword.

Click "listen" underneath the session you are interested in and your media player should open and begin playing the recording. Or you can right click and save the link to download the file.

AALS makes its podcasts available for exclusive use by members of AALS for teaching and related purposes. Commercial and unauthorized use or distribution is prohibited. The podcasts may not be altered in any way without written permission from AALS and the speakers."

April 10, 2013 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Do Not Jettison Your Common Sense

With the stress at the end of the semester, I am seeing more students make poor decisions because they have misplaced their common sense.  Here are some things that students all know but tend to overlook when overwhelmed:

  • Attend classes and prepare for them.  Skipping class to gain more study time may mean that you miss important information about the exam or the wrap-up of major topics for the course.  Not reading and briefing in order to save time only mean that you have the gist of the course without real understanding.
  • Avoid spending lots of time organizing to study rather than actually studying.  If a clean desk, organized bookshelves, and a code book with a thousand colored tabs do not increase your actual learning, you have been inefficient (used time unwisely) and ineffective (gotten minimal or no results).
  • If you are sick, go to the doctor and follow the doctor's advice.  Multiple negative repercussions follow from coming to school sick and refusing to get medical attention: you infect others with your illness; your illness becomes more debilitating than it should; you ultimately lose more class and study time than you would have with prompt treatment.
  • Get enough sleep; do not get less sleep during the remaining weeks of the semester.  Without sleep, your body and brain do not work well.  You absorb less material, retain less material, zone out in class or while studying, and are generally less alert.
  • Eat regular and nutritious meals; do not skip meals to save time.  Your body and brain need fuel to do the studying you have to do.  Dr. Pepper and Snickers bars are not a balanced diet.  Neither are pizza and soda.
  • If you have an emergency during the exam period, tell the academic dean or registrar.  You may be eligible for delayed exams because of the circumstances (medical illness, family illness, death in the family).  Most law schools have procedures/policies dealing with emergencies and will work with students who have exceptional circumstances.

Take time to use your common sense to help you make wise study and personal decisions during these last few weeks of the semester.  Do not put yourself at a disadvantage by blindly taking action fueled by panic - think about the consequences of your choices.  (Amy Jarmon)


April 10, 2013 in Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 7, 2013

So Many Tasks, So Little Time

The end of the semester is approaching at break-neck speed right now for most students.  A common lament is that there is not enough time to get everything done before exams.  Students are frantically working on papers and assignments while trying to find time for extra final exam studying. 

Here are some ways to carve out time when you feel that you have none:

  • Look for time that you waste during each day and corral that time for exam studying or writing papers: Facebook or YouTube or Twitter time; e-mail reading and writing; cell phone time; chatting with friends in the student lounge.  Most people fritter away hours on these tasks.
  • Become more efficient at your daily life tasks: prepare dinners in a slow cooker on the weekend to heat up single servings during the week; wear easy maintenance clothes to save ironing/dry cleaning tasks; pack your lunch/dinner to take to school instead of commuting time to eat at home; clean the house thoroughly once and then merely spot clean and pick up.  You can garner ample study time if you cut down on these types of daily tasks.
  • Curb excessive exercise time, but do not give up exercise time entirely.  Your normal gym workout of two hours five times a week is most likely a luxuary at this point in the semester.  Cut it back to two times a week or make it one hour three times a week.  The guideline for exercise is 150 minutes per week.  You need to focus on strengthing your brain cells rather than your abs right now.
  • Consider getting up earlier each day, but do not get less than 7 hours of sleep per night.  If you tend to sleep in on weekends and days when you do not have early classes, you are losing productive study time.  Go to bed at the same time Sunday through Thursday nights and get up at the same time Monday through Friday mornings; do not vary the schedule more than 2 hours on the weekends.  You will be more alert and better rested if you have a routine.
  • Decide whether you could study an hour or two longer on a Friday or Saturday night if you currently end at 5 or 6 p.m.  You want some down time, but may be able to go a bit longer than previously in order to gain more study time.
  • Set up a schedule so that you delineate for each day when you will read/brief or outline for each of your courses.  Then repeat the tasks at the same days/times each week.  You will waste less time asking yourself what to do next.
  • Break tasks down into small pieces.  Small pockets of time (under an hour) can then be used effectively to complete tasks.  You may be able to study a subtopic for a course in 20 minutes but would take 3 hours for the whole topic.  Any forward movement is progress!
  • Use windfall time when you gain unexpected time: a class is cancelled, your friend is late picking you up, a meeting ends early.

Instead of getting overwhelmed by everything you have to do, take control of your time.  Conquer each course one task at a time.  (Amy Jarmon)


April 7, 2013 in Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)