Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Please welcome Cyrah Khan as Associate Director of Academic Support at Seattle University School of Law where she assumed ASP duties this winter. She grew up in New York and became interested in education during high school when she started tutoring at-risk kids in NYC public schools. After moving to Seattle to pursue a Criminal Justice degree at Seattle University, she attended Seattle University School of Law and started doing work in education equity and access to education. She has worked for the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and the ACLU Education Equity Program. Most recently, she clerked at Division Two of the Washington Court of Appeals. While clerking she earned her Master's Degree in Education with a focus on differentiated instruction and program assessment.
Please welcome Cyrah to ASP!
Monday, May 11, 2015
We are happy to announce that Katherine Kelly, one of our Contributing Editors, has been awarded a badge for a "Top 10 Blog Posts" for her posting last week entitled: Tackling a Take Home Exam. The State Bar of Texas included her on their Texas Bar Today website list of last week's top ten list. You can find their web posting here: Texas Bar Today Top 10 . The PDF badge below is to honor her accomplishment:
Friday, March 6, 2015
We are pleased to announce this year’s full-day NY Academic Support Workshop, to be held from 9:30 to 5:30 at New York Law School on Friday, April 17. As usual, this will be a small and rather-intimate gathering of academic support professionals and colleagues actively working to learn from one another.
As is our usual practice, the afternoon sessions of the workshop will have an open agenda and room to include any subject of interest to those in attendance, while the morning sessions will be centered on a specific topic. For this year’s morning session we would like to concentrate on working with law students who have recently been placed on academic supervision or probation. How do we best help these students? What unique problems do they face? What sorts of pedagogies help them become motivated and effective learners? Any and all insights, discussions, ideas or presentations will be welcome.
One thing that makes all ASP gatherings exciting has always been our unique emphasis on interaction – ASP folks DO things together so that we can learn together. NY Workshop participants work with one another to develop or enhance our individual lessons, materials, presentations, or any other part of our professional endeavors. No one who comes is allowed to be a back-bencher. If you would like to attend, please let us know whether you want to share one of your own issues, ideas, etc., comment on ones brought by other participants, or both. And please let us know whether you think your topic/question/issue/material/presentation lends itself to our morning’s theme or to the more open-ended part of our agenda. When we confirm who will attend and what specific questions the participants plan to address, we will send out a finalized workshop agenda.
RSVP to Kris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since this is not a formal conference there is no fee to attend. We hope to see many of you soon!
Saturday, January 17, 2015
ASP conferences and presentations frequently extol the virtues of group work. Books and articles suggest that group work would enhance legal education, make students better prepared for law practice, and make law school less isolating. Business schools rely on group projects. Despite the evidence, law schools hew to the familiar, and few 1L courses include group work, although some upper-division seminar and clinical courses include group exercises. For women, there may be some benefit to this arrangement.
Women are subject to the "secretary effect," where they are the secretary, the recorder, or the stenographer in group projects. The spit-balling, the creative thinking, and the leadership roles are taken by the men of the group. Women are expected to play supporting roles, while men take the lead, when they work in groups. This arrangement extends into adulthood.
I never liked group work, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed law school. In group projects, I felt like my contributions were never valued, I did more work than other members of the group, and I was stuck in ill-fitting roles where I could not demonstrate my competance. On the rare occasion I had to work in a group during law school, I sought out all-female groups, where I knew I would feel more comfortable.
Professionally, I see the same pattern. ASP is dominated by women, who rarely rise to leadership roles outside of our small community. ASP is designed to support students, but is frequently expected to support the (predominately) male tenured and tenure-track faculty. ASP, as a field, keeps the students in school, helps them achieve career success through bar support, yet rarely receives the credit for helping law schools meet accreditation standards. In ASP, we are still the unsung secretaries, the essential member of the group who is undervalued and overlooked.
Group Projects and the Secretary Effect
Friday, January 9, 2015
I have attended a few conferences this fall, and it has been wonderful to meet new ASPers. So many new ASPers have fantastic new ideas, new programs, and new skills. As program co-chair for this year's conference, I want to encourage professionals new to ASP to submit a proposal to AASE. We need you to talk about your new ideas! Don't worry that you are "too new"--"too new" is exactly the right time to present at AASE, a community of friends, colleagues, and helpers who want to see new professionals succeed. Don't worry that other people have already done what you are doing; we need people who will remind us of what it is like to start out in the field. And everyone approaches the same challenges in different ways, so chances are your methods will be new, and helpful, to members of our community. And don't worry that you can't commit to a presentation on your own; if you would like to present with a more experienced member of our community, we are happy to arrange a joint presentation--you don't even need to suggest your co-presenter!
The bottom line is that new ASPers are critical to our success as a community, the vitality of our organization, and we want YOU to add to this year's conference. Presentation proposals are due Jan 12, to email@example.com.
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Please welcome Phil Kaplan as Associate Professor of Academic Support at Suffolk University Law School where he assumed ASP duties in July 2014.
Phil graduated from Suffolk University Law School and practiced law in Boston for nine years prior to returning to Suffolk to teach. This past July he transferred to the Academic Support Program. For the past eighteen years he has taught in the law school’s Legal Practice Skills Department, including a semester as acting director in spring of 2007. Phil was also the 2009 recipient of the Thomas J. McMahon Award for Dedication to Students.
Phil has thoroughly enjoyed his new position. It allows him to take the skills and knowledge that he has taught for 18 years and focus them in a new direction. Academic Support also affords him a greater opportunity for one-to-one contact with students, which has always been one of his favorite parts of academia.
Please welcome Phil to academic support when you see him at a regional conference, the AALS Annual Meeting, or AASE!
Friday, October 17, 2014
Please welcome Mary Ann Becker! Mary Ann is the Associate Director of Writing Programs and Academic Support at Loyola Unviersity Chicago School of Law. Thank you to Jennifer Brendel, the Director, for providing more information on Mary Ann:
Before joining Loyola’s faculty as the Associate Director of Writing Programs and Academic Support, Mary Ann Becker taught legal research and writing to first, second, and third year students at DePaul University College of Law for seven years. She had also acted as the interim assistant director of the legal writing program at DePaul and was a member of Board of Editors for The Second Draft. Before teaching, she worked as a litigation attorney in Chicago. She graduated from Northwestern University with a B.A. in French language and literature and she earned her J.D. from DePaul University. Though new to academic support, she will be presenting an article she wrote at Duquesne’s December 6 conference, Teaching the Academically Underprepared Law Student, and she looks forward to meeting many of you soon!
Mary Ann's faculty profile can be found here: Mary Ann Becker. Please welcome her when you see her at a conference or workshop.
Friday, October 3, 2014
Please welcome Charles "Chuck" Splawn as Academic and Bar Support Skills Instructor at Elon University School of Law. Chuck began his position in March 2014. Here is some background information from Antonette Barilla, Director of Academic and Bar Support/Assistant Professor at Elon, to help you get to know him:
Charles Splawn was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in North Carolina. He is married to his lovely wife Allison, 29 years and counting. He is a graduate of Wake Forest University School of Law and his law career included general private practice, litigation management as in-house counsel for an insurance company, and corporate law involving mergers & acquisitions.
In 2001 he fulfilled a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher by joining the faculty of the Legal Studies Department at Horry-Georgetown Technical College (HGTC), in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He was selected Professor of the Year at HGTC in May 2006 and served as President of Faculty Assembly at HGTC for the 2007-2008 Academic Year. He is very excited to begin the next phase of his career by returning to the law school environment generally and by becoming part of the Elon Law family specifically.
Please make Chuck feel welcomed when you see him at a conference or workshop!
Friday, September 19, 2014
Please welcome Kandace Kukas to ASP work at Western New England. Her faculty profile can be found on the faculty page at WNE at Faculty Profiles WNE - Kandace Kukas. Here is a short bio for her:
Kandace Kukas is the new Assistant Dean and Director of Bar Admission Programs at Western New England University School of Law in Springfield, Massachusetts. Kandace started July 1st and jumped right in to working with the class of 2014. She is responsible for creating a comprehensive bar admission program working with the entire School of Law community. For the previous 17 years she worked in test preparation and the last 9 in bar review.
When you see Kandace at a workshop or conference, please give her a warm welcome to our ASP community. (Amy Jarmon)
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Please welcome Michelle Buck as the new full-time Assistant Director of Academic Success and Student Affairs at Mercer Law! When you see Michelle at workshops or conferences, please give her a friendly ASP congratulations. Here is some information about Michelle:
Michelle's responsibilities include assisting the Director of Academic Success with weekly Academic Success programming for first-year students, helping with the Bar Review for Credit course for third-year students in the spring, and working with the Assistant Dean of Students on various student affairs projects. Last year she worked in a similar role, as the Assistant Director of Academic Success, on a part-time basis. Michelle earned her law degree from Temple University in 2009 and is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Georgia. She has previous legal experience in low-income family law. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with my family, especially her two daughters, Audrey (3) and Lucy (1).
We are delighted to have Michelle join us as a full-time ASP'er! (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, September 12, 2014
Marsha Griggs has joined the ASP professional community as Assistant Dean for Academic Support and Bar Readiness at Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Please introduce yourselves to Marsha as you meet her at workshops and conferences. Here is some information about Marsha:
Prior to joining the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Marsha served on the faculty at Collin College and chaired the Business Administration and Paralegal Studies departments. Marsha graduated from Notre Dame Law School and earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at Northwestern University. Additionally, Marsha has received a Masters degree in Public Policy and is in pursuit of her doctorate in Public Policy and Political Economy. Marsha is licensed in Colorado and Texas and her practice areas are commercial and civil litigation. Personally, Marsha is an avid college football fan and a recurring and often unintentional foster for rescue dogs of various breeds. She and her hair are getting acclimated to the muggy humid Houston weather since relocating in February.
Please make Marsha welcome to ASP work! (Amy Jarmon)
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: