Friday, August 29, 2014
At the beginning of each academic semester, we like to introduce ASP or bar professionals who are new to their law schools or who have changed locations? We want to post an academic spotlight about you so that you are introduced to the community of readers if you are new and so readers know your news if you have moved to a different law school.
If you would like for us to post an academic spotlight about you (or a colleague at your school who is too shy to send us something), please send the following information to Amy Jarmon at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will be doing posts throughout September and early October.
Here is what I need from you for a spotlight post:
- A small jpeg photo.
- Your full name, title, and law school information.
- 100 - 200 words telling us about yourself: when you started your job, what you were doing before your position, your JD school, your legal practice experience/specialties, your interests professionally and personally.
- A link to your faculty/staff profile on your law school web pages if one exists.
We look forward to welcoming you to our terrific community of colleagues and updating folks on your careers. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, August 2, 2014
My article is due to go out to law reviews on Friday. I have learned many, many things while writing the article, but the most important lesson learned is about teaching. Specifically, the process of submitting my piece to outside reviewers has given me renewed insight into what our students experience when they receive feedback. I know the research on students and feedback. However, it is completely different to experience getting feedback. If you have been in ASP for a while, you probably haven't received feedback since law school. Getting feedback is very tough. To write something, to spend weeks and months preparing, and then weeks and months writing, is emotionally draining and personally exhausting. You cannot help but feel that your admittedly flawed, incomplete article is a part of yourself. But then you have to let it go out to reviewers. If you are lucky, you will have tough, critical reviewers who are willing to tell you everything that is wrong with the piece, so that you can make it better before the submission process. I have been blessed with some really tough reviewers, and my piece is immeasurably better because they spent hours telling me just what is wrong with my flawed, incomplete article. I am confident that what goes out on Friday morning is no longer flawed or incomplete, but a fully-realized articulation of a problem. And it is better, stronger, and complete because of the feedback I received from outside reviewers.
The process of receiving feedback has reminded me how tough it is on our students. They spend all semester struggling with the material, and then they are judged on their learning just once or twice a semester. They cannot help but feel like they are being personally judged, evaluated, and measured. Part of our job is to help our students see that critical feedback is not meant to measure failures and self-worth, but to show them how to be stronger, better, and smarter. It is a part of the "invisible curriculum" of law schools (to use a Carnegie term) that criticism will produce stronger lawyers. We need to make that visible to students; we need to explain that we give them critical feedback because we believe they can be smarter, stronger, better thinkers and writers.
If you are a long-term ASPer, try writing an article for a law review. It may not help you in your professional evaluations, you may not need it for tenure, but you should do it because it will make you a better teacher. Reading about feedback is not the same as receiving feedback. Write because it will help you understand your students.
Monday, July 21, 2014
At the 2014 AASE Conference in Indianapolis, Professor Elizabeth Bloom of the New England School of Law gave a presentation on the use of formative assessment to enable students to become self-regulated learners. In her presentation, Professor Bloom addressed the use of formative assessment in law school classes to enhance student learning.
Both summative and formative assessment are necessary in legal education. Summative assessment provides law schools the opportunity to test whether students have learned the required material. Used while a course is in progress, formative assessment provides faculty the opportunity to adjust instruction and provides students the opportunity to adjust their approach to learning.
Professor Bloom's presentation drew from her work in academic support and her scholarship on teaching and learning. Both her presentation and her scholarship illustrate that both professors and students bear responsibility to make the most of formative assessment to enhance student learning. Law faculty should provide students with meaningful feedback on their work, and students must learn to use that feedback to enhance their learning.
In her presentation, Professor Bloom drew from two pieces of her scholarship. The first article is on "Teaching Law Students to be Self-Regulated Learners." The second, more recent article is on providing "(Trans)formative feedback" to law students. Professor Bloom’s articles provide valuable information as the new academic year approaches.
(Myra G. Orlen)
Monday, June 16, 2014
Beginning on July 1st, Kandace Kukas will be the Assistant Dean of Bar Admissions Programs at Western New England University School of Law. Kandace Kukas comes to Western New England University School of Law with a wealth of experience in bar preparation. Beginning on August 1st, I will take on the role of Director of Academic Success Programs -- in addition to that of Associate Professor of legal Research and Writing.
(Myra G. Orlen)
Saturday, May 10, 2014
In light of the upcoming AASE conference in Indianapolis, members of the planning committees and e-board have been circling a number of latent questions. As a member of the e-board, I thought I would put some of these questions on the blog (however, I want to stress that I am speaking solely for myself, and NOT the e-board or AASE.) I think it is valuable to think about who we are, where we are going, and what we want, as a profession.
1) Do we want to be more like "regular" (tenure-track) faculty? What are the benefits to "achieving" this status? Are there drawbacks that we have not considered? Do we want the pressure of "publish or perish" when our jobs include so many year-round responsibilities? Do non-tenure track ASPer's feel the pressure to publish? Have ASPer's found it difficult to be placed in law reviews? Do ASPer's get support (mentoring, guidance, as well as financial support) from their institutions when they choose to write? How can ASPer's receive more support for writing and publishing?
2) Do we want to be more like legal writing or clinical, faculty? How many of us are ASP/legal writing already? How many of us switched from legal writing to ASP (or vice versa)? How are we like legal writing? Are we like legal writing?
3) As an organization, do we want to be more like LWI? Or do we want our focus to be smaller, more intimate? LWI is a huge organization because most law school have several legal writing instructors, but only one or two ASP professionals. Are there benefits to growing our organization? Are there specific challenges if we grow too fast?
4) In light of the financial problems facing many, if not most, law schools, should we spend more time discussing the realities of job loss, pay cuts, and declining enrollment? Should we spend more time discussing the pressures facing ASP?
5) The "average" incoming law student now has a lower LSAT than the "average" student in prior incoming classes. Should ASP be in conversation about the trends in admission? How can be be more engaged in the conversation about trends in admission? Implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, we are held responsible for student outcomes, so our livelihoods are connected to these trends. How should we address these trends if we are not responsible for admissions?
6) Is bar prep a natural part of academic success? Or is bar prep a unique partner with ASP, a partnership that shares some similarities, but also differences? How many ASPer's have bar prep responsibilities? Is bar prep combined with ASP out of convenience, necessity, or is it an accident of institutional planning?
7) How do we constrain "job creep" at a time of institutional downsizing? How amny ASPer's feel like their job is on the line if they say no to additional repsonsibilities without additional compensation? Is it fair to expect additional compensation when so many law school graduates cannot find jobs in law?
(Again, I want to stress that I am speaking solely for myself, and NOT the e-board or AASE.)
Thursday, April 24, 2014
Congratulations to Jeremiah Ho from University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Law! Many of you will remember Jeremiah from his ASP days before he became a full-time law professor on his move to U Mass Dartmouth. Jeremiah is one of the editors for the AALS Academic Support Section's Learning Curve. He has been named by Lawyers of Color as one of the 50 under 50 law professors who are making relevant contributions to the legal profession. The link to the 50 under 50 article is here: 50 under 50 article.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
As we get closer to finals, a lot of poor-performing students are struggling with outline and exam structure. At South Carolina, the second semester for First Years is made up of Con Law, Civ Pro, and Property, and all three of these classes seem to cause certain students to "over-write." For example, even more so than in their First Semester outlines, many students want to include all the minutiae of every case, so I have had at least a dozen students show up in my office saying something to the effect of "I have 120 pages on my outline done -- but I have a little more work to do."
A 120-page plus outline isn't going to help anyone, unless they are planning on clubbing someone with it. One thing I have found really helpful for these students is to go over practice questions geared to the bar exam (BarBri, Kaplan, Finz, etc.). These tend to be shorter than questions designed for doctrinal exams, and the idea that you can explain something like the rule for intermediate scrutiny or the Commerce Clause in three sentences is really helpful and mind-blowing. I've seen a real improvement in students' answers, especially since many of these students' exam issues were running out of time, missing issues, or spending time talking about things that were not going to translate into points.
I've also been using the longer essay questions from Emanuel's Questions and Answers for First Year. I don't know if this exactly counts as a self-serving plug since I wrote them, but I put them together specifically with this issue in mind. They are nowhere near the most detailed questions in the world, but they are good if you have a student who just needs to get IRAC together. I have a lot of these types of students -- who are bright, but write 16-page dissertations for a 20-minute question. Most of our meetings tend to revolve around focus and getting to the point.
I've also been working with these students using "Shortish Questions from the Realm of Stuff You Will Be Asked" -- so, for example, I have a question about an ordinance limiting firefighters to male citizens between the ages of 20-45 and a question about the state putting the kibosh on an individual's contract with an out-of-state company. This way, I can talk about breaking up the different levels of scrutiny and the four things that they will probably need to think about when the state messes with a private individual (commerce, contracts, privileges and immunities, due process). The weakest students have all of this in a jumble of premises and exhortations of fairness, which will clearly sink them on exams if they don't get it cleared up. (Alex Ruskell)
Thursday, December 26, 2013
All members of AASE (Association of Academic Support Educators) should have received emails reminding them to renew their AASE membership for 2014. All current members will also receive, by mail, a copy of their membership information from 2013 and an invitation to renew for 2014. Membership runs from Jan-Dec (calendar year) and dues are due by Jan. 30 for 2014. Two types of membership are available; individual and institutional memberships (for schools with 3+ ASP professionals).
If you have any questions, or would like to join AASE, please email email@example.com
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Dennis Tonsing is a Senior Instructor for Concord School of Law and since 2007 has lived in South America (first Uruguay and now Ecuador). In addition to his ASP and bar prep work, Dennis edits legal documents translated from Spanish. Prior to his international move, Dennis worked as Dean of Students and first Director of the Academic Support Program at Roger Williams School of Law and previously as the first Director of the Academic Support Program at Vermont Law School.
You will want to check out his book and EZINE articles below:
1000 Days to the Bar But the Practice of Law Begins Now! William S. Hein & Co. (Second Edition 2010)
Law School Essay Exams - What to Memorize (December 9, 2011):
Law School Essay Exams - Focus on Key Facts (November 9, 2011):
Law School Essay Exam Answers: Write for Your Audience (August 29, 2011):
Avoid Conclusory Statements in Law School Essay Exam Answers (August 25, 2011):
Law School Avoiding Expository Writing in Law School Essay Exams:
Friday, November 1, 2013
If you are interested in membership in AASE (Association of Academic Support Educators) please note that your inquiries should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. You should receive an email with an application within a week of your inquiry. AASE is moving the membership process from UNLV to a more permanent model, with one email address.
And just a reminder that AASE is planning a FABULOUS conference in Indianapolis, to be held May 30-June 1, 2014.
For more information about AASE, please see http://www.academicsupporteducators.org
Monday, October 21, 2013
I would like to introduce you to the third ASP writer in our series. Louis Schulze is Professor of Law and Director of the Academic Excellence Program at New England School of Law. Louis is the 2013 Chair of the AALS Section on Academic Support. I have listed below some of his publications. (Amy Jarmon)Alternative Justifications for Academic Support III: An Empirical Analysis of the Impact of Academic Support on Perceived Autonomy Support and Humanizing Law Schools 38 Ohio N.U. L. Rev. 999 (2012) (with Dr. Adam A. Ding).
Partnering for the Benefit of All Students: Simple Ways to Incorporate ASP Techniques Across the Curriculum, 19(1) The Law Teacher 8 (Fall 2012) (with Rebecca Flanagan).
Integrating Doctrinal Material and Faculty into Academic Support, 2009 The Learning Curve 13 (2009) (with Elizabeth Bloom.)
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
This is the second in the series on ASP writers. Robin Boyle Laisure is Assistant Dean for Academic Success and Professor of Law at St. Johns School of Law. She has written a number of articles and book chapters that deal with academic support topics. Robin is a prior Chair of the AALS Academic Support Section. I have listed below some of her publications. (Amy Jarmon)
Law Students Are Different from the General Population: Empirical Findings Regarding
Learning Styles, with Jeffrey Minneti and Andrea Honigsfeld, 17 (3)
PERSPECTIVES: TEACHING LEGAL RES. & WRITING 153 (2009).
Applying Learning Styles Theory in the Workplace: How to Maximize Learning-Styles
Strengths to Improve Work Performance in Law Practice, 79 St.
John's Law Review 97 (2005).
How Schools, Parents, and Courts can Respond to Federal Law and Improve Classroom Teaching for At-Risk Students, in DIFFERENTIATING INSTRUCTION FOR AT-RISK STUDENTS, by Rita
Dunn and Andrea Honigsfeld (2009).
A Blueprint for a Truly Innovative Law School, in What If . . . : A Guide to Improving Education (R. Dunn & S.A. Griggs, eds., 2007).
Impact of Learning Styles and Law School Teaching, in Synthesis of the Dunn and Dunn Learning-Style Model Research: Who, What, When and What? (St. John's Univ. Center for Study of Learning & Teaching) (R. Dunn & S.A. Griggs, eds., 2007).
Research on Learning Style and Legal Writing, in Synthesis of the Dunn and Dunn Learning-Style Model Research: Who, What, When and What? (St. John's Univ. Center for Study of Learning & Teaching) (R. Dunn & S.A. Griggs, eds., 2007).
Bringing Learning Styles Instructional Strategies to Law School, in Practical Approaches to Using Learning Styles Application in Higher Education (R. Dunn & S.A. Griggs, eds., 2000).
In Response to the Remarks by Lawrence H. Summers, Presenting Empirical Data on the Differences in Learning Styles Between Males and Females, with Andrea Honigsfeld, 11(3) Cardozo Women's L. J. 505 (2005).
Monday, October 14, 2013
I recently wrote a post about getting involved in writing as ASP'ers. It occurred to me that our readers might want to meet some of the ASP folks who have contibuted to the wealth of ASP-related articles and books. Over a series of posts, I'll spotlight some of our ASP writers. (Amy Jarmon)
Herb Ramy is Director and Professor of Academic Support at Suffolk University School of Law. Herb is well-known in ASP for his contributions to the field. He is a prior Chair of the Academic Support Section for AALS. Here are just a few of his publications which would interest our readers:
Succeeding in Law School Carolina Academic Press (Second Edition 2010).
Moving Students from Hearing and Forgetting to Doing and Understanding: A Manual for Assessment in Law School, 41 CAP. U. L. REV (forthcoming 2013)
Student Depression Becomes an Issue of Faculty Concern 33:8 STUDENT LAWYER MAGAZINE (2005).
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Also joining us as a new Contributing Editor is Bonnie Stepleton from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Bonnie graduated from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1987. She served as a law clerk in the New Mexico Supreme Court followed by private practice in the areas of mental health and disabilities law, personal injury and workers’ compensation. She has been at the University of New Mexico School of Law since 2004, and is Assistant Dean for Student Services. She teaches Bar Strategies Seminar, Interviewing Counseling and Negotiation and coaches in the Mediation class. She is a member of the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE).
We look forward to having Bonnie as one of the editors and reading her viewpoints from student services as well as academic success.
Friday, September 6, 2013
We would like you to meet our second new Contributing Editor, Myra Orlen from Western New England University School of Law. The following information is from the WNEU web pages:
After graduation from law school, Professor Orlen served as the Law Clerk for the Honorable Alexander O. Bryner, Chief Judge of the Alaska Court of Appeals, and later served a clerkship in the Superior Court of Massachusetts. After her clerkships, she worked as a Staff Attorney for the University of Massachusetts Student Legal Services Office in Amherst and as an Associate in a Northampton, MA, law firm. Professor Orlen has taught in the law program since 1995.
It is exciting to have Myra join us, and we look forward to her contributions to the blog. Her legal writing and academic success experience will benefit all of us.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
We have several new Contributing Editors for the Law School Academic Support Blog. We will be introducing them to you in upcoming spotlight posts.
Alex Ruskell is the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the University of South Carolina School of Law. He has held similar positions at Roger Williams University School of Law, Southern New England School of Law, and the University of Iowa College of Law. He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and has degrees from Washington and Lee University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. In a review of his wife's memoir, Fumbling, The National Catholic Reporter noted "Alex is a saint. Seriously." The poster in his picture is hung in his office and is his daughter's (Mary Frances) made-up superhero which was designed by a friend for her.
We look forward to forthcoming posts from Alex! Welcome to the editorial staff.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Vernellia Randall, a professor at University of Dayton, is one of the well-known names in ASP work. She was among the leaders at the forefront of academic support work when the profession gained traction at law schools. Vernellia is retiring this year after a distinguished career as a professor and ASP advocate. Although a prolific writer in a number of doctrinal areas, her most recent publication on legal teaching that many ASP'ers have read is Planning for Effective Legal Instsruction: A Workbook (Carolina Academic Press, 2011).
Thank you, Vernellia, for your passion for helping students achieve success. Your work in ASP was instrumental for many of us in our own careers. Best wishes for your retirement. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, April 19, 2013
A huge thank you to Myra Orlen, who wrote this summary of events for the blog.
The 2013 NY Academic Support Workshop was held on Thursday, April 2013, at Brooklyn Law School. Thanks – once again -- to Linda Feldman and Kris Franklin for organizing and convening a totally successful event. This workshop consistently convenes a dynamic group of presenters in a supportive setting in which everyone participates and comes away inspired. This year’s event was no exception.
David Nadvorney, of CUNY School of Law, began the day with a presentation entitled “Teaching Students Legal Reading.” David demonstrated methods of working with students on law school reading that I will use with my students. He stressed that the best method of delivering ASP is across the curriculum, i.e. in a doctrinal context. David shared materials from his close case reading workshops. In these workshops, he teaches students to recognize rhetorical devises that will enhance their comprehension.
Next Shane Dizon, of the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hosfstra University, gave a presentation entitled “Professional Advisory: Explicit Content! Make Labeling Mandatory.” Shane’s presentation focused on the importance of students’ ability to spot issues on exam questions. Shane led us in an exercise; with scissors and preprinted labels in hand– we marked up a constitutional law essay question. The labels corresponded to the issues that the professor wanted students to identify on the exam question and will ideally come from the students’ course outlines. This exercise teaches close reading and can serve as an intermediate step between the professor’s memo on the exam and the students’ understanding of the exam question.
Robin Boyle, of St. Johns University School of Law, addressed critical reading skills and placed those skills in the exam context. She noted that our legal writing colleagues are noticing that students are evincing increased difficulty in critical reading this year. Robin shared her experience in working with students on exam taking skills – with a focus on critical reading.
Zelma Rios, of Cardozo School of Law, shared her idea of having students annotate portions of briefs: the question presented and the statement of the case. In doing so, students focus on language structure, word choice, and tone. Students then meet in groups to discuss their annotations. This exercise affords students the opportunity to see cases in context. The cases are the continuation of the story presented in the brief. When asked how to use this exercise in the ASP context, Zelma had a ready answer; she distributed the briefs copies of the Palsgraf briefs. As one person noted, this exercise allows students to see themselves as lawyers from day one.
Jeremiah Ho, of the U. Mass. School of Law - Dartmouth and Rebecca Flanagan, currently of the U. Conn. Law school and soon to be at the U. Mass. School of Law- Dartmouth, explained how to use Jerome Bruner’s Spiral Curriculum in 1L Contracts. Using the process that Rebecca described in her April 12, 2031 entry to this blog, she and Jeremiah demonstrated how the Spiral Curriculum can be used in Contracts to teach the mirror image rule.
Angela Baker, of Rutgers Law School, presented on the development of summer pre-law programs for law students. She told us about the development and implementation of Rutgers’ program which brought diverse, rising sophomores to Rutgers for a four-week program. The program was an intense mixture of classes, speakers, and field trips aimed at encouraging participants to consider law school.
Kris Franklin, of the New York Law School, led us in an exciting game of TabooTM Law. The objective of the TabooTM is to get your teammates to guess a word, without using a set of words that are listed on the card as “taboo.” After providing a demonstration, Kris distributed Civil Procedure cards that her students made. In making the cards, students knew which words to put on the cards to “screw” their classmates. The game illustrated that law school can be fun and that one need not be afraid of the law. To give good clues, students use legally descriptive terms. Thus, the students learn to explain and, thereby understand the terms.
Ann Forlino, of the U. Mass. School of Law – Dartmouth, spoke about the necessary relationship between ASP and Disability Services. Through the discussion that Ann led, we learned of some of the different ways that these two areas are treated in law schools.
Last – but certainly not least – Elizabeth Corwin of Pace Law School spoke on her experiences working with at-risk 2Ls. In her presentation Elizabeth described the course that she teaches to at-risk students: Overview of Legal Analysis. The course is designed to enhance students’ exam taking skills. Elizabeth noticed that her students had problems with logical thinking and introduced us to a series of videos that explain concepts in logic:
(Myra Orlen, WNE Law via RCF)
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Thank you to Jeremiah Ho for alerting us through the listserv about Rebecca Flanagan's receiving the Honors Teacher of the Year award at the University of Conncecticut. The award selection is on the recommendation of students and faculty.
We have all benefited from Rebecca's insights on teaching throughout the years. It is well-deserved that she is being recognized by her university for her excellence. Congratulations!
Friday, April 5, 2013
This summer, I will be moving from UConn and UConn Law School to UMass-Dartmouth School of Law, where I will become tenure-track faculty. The move also means I will be shifting back to ASP full-time. As much as I love UConn (and more on that below), I could not turn down the opportunity to work with Dean Mary Lu Bilek, who was a pioneer in ASP at CUNY before becoming dean at UMass. I found the faculty at UMass to be incredibly supportive and genuinely excited to be at the law school, and I was encouraged by the mission of the law school, to provide an affordable option for students seeking to work in public service.
It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave UConn. Not only do I love my job and my students, but I am alum of the school (both my BA and MA are from UConn). I have had amazing opportunities here that I would not have had anywhere else. My experience working with undergraduates has been invaluable. My experience has changed how I view ASP and the types of supports needed by students. I now see the essentiality of ASP-undergrad partnerships, and the growing need for ASP to move outside of the legal academy. To truly understand the challenges facing our incoming students, we need a better understanding of where they are coming from. It's no longer adequate to recall personal memories of our pre-law days, and superimpose our challenges on our students.These students are "digital natives" who are not afraid of the rapid pace of technological change--it's all they have ever known. These are students scarred by the Great Recession, which has shaped their worldview. Their undergraduate experience has shown them that education is not the ticket to security and stability. Incoming students are savvy and informed in ways that were unthinkable just four or five years ago; "buy-in" to the law school pedagogy will require us to prove ourselves and our value to students. ASP should not be afraid to embrace this new generation of law students and their challenge to our curriculum. These students will force us to up our game, to become better, more effective teachers and scholars. Personally, that is a challenge I embrace and encourage. While we work with students to become the best version of themselves, they will force us to better versions of ourselves.
It is bittersweet for me to be moving on from UConn. I love my job, I love my students, and the colleagues I have here will become lifelong friends. But in this time of uncertainty and change in the legal academy, I am very excited to become to a part of a law school that is embracing the "new normal" and challenges ahead of us. (Rebecca Flanagan)
EDIT: 3:44 pm
This is a fantastic post by William Henderson from over at Legal Whiteboard. It dovetails on my message about students and growth.