Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Save the Date for the AASE Conference in May

The dates for the sixth annual Association of Academic Support Educators conference are May 22-26, 2018. The conference is in St. Louis, Missouri with Saint Louis University School of Law as the host school. If you are new to the ASP/bar prep community, you will find this conference very helpful. Experienced ASP'ers always look forward to the sessions. Hope to see you there!

November 19, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Call for Presentation Proposals for 2018 AASE Conference

2018 Annual Conference
May 22 – 24: St. Louis, MO
St. Louis University School of Law
Call for Proposals

Introduction
The 2018 Conference of the Association of Academic Support Educators will bring together colleagues interested in legal education and academic support. In this collegial and collaborative environment, colleagues will have a chance to meet, reconnect, and share ideas about pedagogy, scholarship, and professional growth.

In order to present at the conference, you need to be a current AASE member and current with your annual dues at the time of the submission. If you are not an AASE member, you must submit an application to verify membership eligibility and pay your annual dues before submitting your proposal.

The program committee welcomes proposals on any subject relating to legal education and academic support.

Please craft your proposal carefully using the required online form. The program committee will only look at proposals submitted through this online form. Please copy and paste the following link into your browser to access the required online form and follow the instructions to submit a proposal: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSf4Aj5KzEZwfmktAya8DxQKENJ1okuasGMImWWZk4Drpk1Izw/viewform?usp=sf_link.

A “Sample Proposal” is available at the end of this document and it contains more detailed explanations and sample answers of the questions you will see in the required online form. The program committee will look for proposals that describe the presentation and its goals in detail. Our assumption is that a clear and detailed proposal today will lead to a stronger presentation at the conference. Please review the Sample Proposal before submitting the required online form.

Presentation Topics
The committee seeks various presentations and topics, including but not limited to presentations
that address:
• diversity and inclusion (particularly programs that focus on sustaining women and minorities in legal careers);
• teaching ideas for new and veteran teachers;
• scholarship;
• research;
• professional growth;
• assessment;
• hot topics in legal education;
• creativity in law teaching and learning;
• teaching methods;
• analytical and academic competencies necessary for success in law school, on the bar, and in practice;
• counseling;
• educational psychology;
• assisting students with learning disabilities;
• the role and status of Academic Support Professionals in the legal academy; and
• intersections between academic support, legal writing and doctrinal teaching.

Presentation Format
Presentations may be in any form the presenter finds effective. Although the committee does seek to accommodate all presenters with their selection for presentation format and timing, the committee may occasionally ask presenters to change the format or timing of a presentation to fit the needs of a comprehensive and diverse program.
The following is a description of the different types of presentations:

Interactive Workshop
An interactive workshop is a presentation with audience participation throughout. A proposal for an interactive workshop should discuss what you plan to do to make the presentation interactive.

Examples include: pair and share, break-out group discussions, use of demonstrative aids that involve the audience, or other audience participation. Note that providing handouts, although very beneficial for attendees, does not on its own make the presentation interactive.
If you submit a proposal with more than one presenter for your session, your proposal should include the name, e-mail address, and school for each presenter. In determining how many presenters to include in your proposal, please make sure that each person will have sufficient time to fully discuss his or her topic. Because most presentations will last only 45 minutes, we recommend no more than 2 to 3 presenters.

Lesson in a Box
A lesson in a box presentation is a session devoted to the presentation of a lesson on a single topic. Such sessions should include all of the information and materials necessary for attendees to leave the session prepared to deliver the lesson on their own.

Moderated Group Discussion
Moderated Group Discussions are more informal presentations that feature group conversations and interaction. The committee encourages presentations that will foster dialogue among conference attendees. These sessions are particularly well suited for hot topics.

Speed Round
Speed Rounds are 10 minute, fast-paced, high-impact sessions. These are opportunities for new ideas, or for emerging professionals to present ideas that might not have been presented on before. There will be several Speed Rounds running concurrently throughout the period.

Brochure Summary
Please provide a short summary of your presentation for the conference brochure. The summary should not exceed 250 words and should accurately reflect the subject of the presentation.

Technology
As part of your proposal we ask that you explain whether your presentation requires projection, internet access, audio, or other technology and the degree to which each is necessary to your presentation. We ask that proposals identify any technology needs at this early point so that we can be prepared well in advance of the conference to provide accessibility.

Time Slots
The committee expects that nearly all presentations will be assigned a 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour time slot. Proposals should indicate the time needed for the presentation. Please also address how the presentation can be adapted if you are allotted a shorter amount of time. However, we recognize that a few presentations are better served with more time. If you are interested in a 75-minute time slot, your proposal should clearly explain why 75 minutes is necessary.

Submission Deadline
Proposals must be submitted no later than January 19, 2018. Late submissions will not be accepted.

Notification
All individuals submitting a proposal will be notified about the status of their proposal on or before February 16, 2018.

Multiple Proposals and the “One-Presentation Rule”
You may submit a maximum of two proposals, and you need not rank your proposals in order of preference. If you are selected for more than one presentation or panel, you will be given the opportunity to select the one presentation or panel in which you would like to participate, as each person is limited to one presentation or panel.

No Marketing
Although the committee welcomes proposals on any topic of interest to academic support faculty, a proposal will not be accepted if it appears to be a means to market a textbook or other for-pay product. AASE does not accept proposals from any commercial vendors. Any commercial vendor interested in promoting their materials may do so as a sponsor of the conference. Please email aaseconference@gmail.com to request information on becoming a sponsor.

Questions
If you have any questions, please contact the Programming Committee at: aaseconference@gmail.com.

SAMPLE PROPOSAL

Proposal for AASE 2018 Annual Summer Conference

Presenter Contact Information: Cai Leonard, Law School, 2 Main Street, Springfield, ST 98765.
T: 112-356-7890 caileo@lawschool.edu

Presentation Title: Building Positive Classroom Environments

Background of Presentation Topic: Creating a positive learning environment is one of the components critical to successful learning (e.g. Bransford et. al, How People Learn 25; Goleman, Social Intelligence 268-76; Hess & Friedland, Techniques for Teaching Law 326-27). Emotional intelligence and neuroscience studies show that we learn better when we are challenged, supported, respected, and engaged. Too much stress impedes learning; lack of challenge does the same. This workshop focuses on how to create a positive learning environment for law students.

Goals of the Presentation: By the end of this workshop participants will:
• Be able to explain the value of positive interpersonal environments in helping students learn;
• Be able to identify methods for building positive interpersonal classroom environments; and
• Be able to engage their own students in exercises that help build positive classroom environments.

Target Audience: Newbies & moderate experience level; all school sizes

Presentation Format: Interactive Workshop

Presentation Methodology: Participants will be actively involved in different techniques that affect classroom dynamics. Participants will engage in:
 Writing
 Discussing ideas in pairs
 Looking at visuals
 Listening & reflecting
 Discussing ideas with the whole group
 Practicing with a small group
Participants will first examine the environments that have been conducive to their own learning, and exchange their ideas with a partner. This will be followed by a short, whole group discussion about the value of creating positive affect — and the value of engaging others in talking about it. Participants will then be given scenarios about classroom behaviors and asked to consider the following kinds of questions:
 What could the professor have done at the beginning of the course to increase the positive interpersonal engagement?
 What are the likely consequences of negative classroom interactions?
 What small steps can professors take to improve the classroom environment?

Participants will be given an overview of how positive and negative interpersonal dynamics and environments affect student learning. They will then discuss things they have noticed within their classes and ways to improve classroom dynamics. Depending on participants’ teaching areas, participants may engage in small group discussions about questions relating to doctrinal areas, upper level vs. first year courses, skills courses, or clinical courses.
Throughout the workshop, I will share my own experiences and give examples of what I have found effective in my classes, others’ classes, and I will answer participants’ questions.

Timing Required: 30 minutes

Materials: Outline of the workshop, scenarios regarding different kinds of classroom environments, questions for participants to respond to, specific techniques professors can use to create positive environments, and short list of resources.

Technology Required: Access to PowerPoint would be very helpful, although the session could be modified to be done without it.

Brochure Summary: We have all witnessed our students struggle in their classes due to too much stress. This workshop focuses on how to create a positive learning environment for law students. Through group discussion and partner work, participants will learn how to build positive interpersonal classroom environments.

November 13, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Registration Is Open for the December One-Day LWI Workshops

Registration is now open for the LWI One Day Workshops in December! You can register for the site of your choice here. If you have any questions about registration, please contact Renee Allen.

2017 Dates, Sites & Themes:

December 1, 2017   

Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco, California – “Developing Writing and Research Skills from Orientation to Graduation” 

University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia, South Carolina – “Directing Traffic at the Intersection of Legal Research and Legal Writing: Teaching Analysis” 

December 8, 2017

University of Houston Law Center in Houston, Texas – “Stepping into Spring: Preparing for the Second Semester”

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – “Research, Writing and What Else? Expanding the Legal Writing Classroom”

Elon University School of Law in Greensboro, North Carolina – “Legal Writing: Passport to the Profession”

Shepard Broad College of Law Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida – “Small Changes, Big Results: Incremental changes people can make in LRW Classes to Improve Learning, Feedback, and Engagement”

December 9, 2017

University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, Arizona – “Innovating Upstream: Meeting New Teaching Demands in an Increasingly Global and Technological Legal World”

We look forward to seeing you in December!

The LWI One Day Workshop Committee Co-Chairs

Renee Allen, Cindy Archer, and Meredith Stange

November 6, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Call for Nominations for AALS Section on Academic Support Officer/Board Positions

Good morning,

I write on behalf of the Nominations Committee of the AALS Section on Academic Support (Amy Jarmon, Phil Kaplan, and myself).  Below  are instructions for submitting nominations to serve in Section leadership.  There are three positions open:  Treasurer and two Board positions.  Please note that according to the Section's rotation rules, the Treasurer moves to the Secretary position the following year, then Chair-Elect and Chair in the years after that.  As stated below, the deadline to submit nominations is Nov. 15, 2017, at noon (Pacific time). 

I encourage everyone in our community to consider volunteering for these positions or nominating someone.  You can participate meaningfully even if you do not regularly attend the AALS Annual Meetings.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS FOR OFFICERS AND BOARD MEMBERS FOR THE AALS SECTION ON ACADEMIC SUPPORT

At the 2018 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in San Diego, the Section on Academic Support will have its Business Meeting on Friday, January 5th at 7:30AM.  Section members will elect the 2018 Executive Committee.  The Nominations Committee is now accepting nominations for positions to be elected at the 2018 meeting.

The Executive Committee is comprised of Chair, Chair-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, four board members, and the Immediate Past Chair.  Two Board Members are elected each year, serving two-year terms.  Per the bylaws’ rotation rules, Staci Rucker (Cincinnati) becomes the Chair of the Section for 2018, Courtney Lee (McGeorge) becomes 2018 Chair-Elect, and Jennifer Carr (McGeorge) becomes 2018 Secretary.  Danielle Kocal (Pace) will move to 2018 Immediate Past Chair. 

Positions to be filled at the upcoming meeting are Treasurer (to advance to Secretary in 2019, Chair-Elect in 2020, and Chair in 2021), and two Board Members (2018-2019).  The Secretary and Treasurer also serve as a chair or co-chair of a committee during the year.  Board Members serve as members of at least one committee during their terms.

Who May Be Nominated: Candidates must be faculty or professional staff at AALS member law schools (see http://www.aals.org/member-schools/).  The nominated person need not be present at the AALS Annual Meeting.

Who May Submit a Nomination: You may nominate yourself or any other eligible candidate at an AALS member school.

Contents of the Nomination: Nominations must be in writing and include:  (1) the candidate’s name, title, institutional affiliation, and business email address; (2) a brief description of the candidate’s professional role at his/her institution and connection with law school academic support; and (3) a statement confirming that the candidate is willing to be nominated. 

Where to send Nominations: Send nominations to Courtney Lee at clee1@pacific.edu (please be sure to include the “1”).

Deadline: Noon (Pacific) on Wednesday, November 15, 2017.

After nominations close, the Nominations Committee will confirm nominees’ interest in serving; review nominations; choose a slate of candidates to recommend at the Business Meeting; and seek additional nominations at the Business Meeting. 

Best,
Courtney, Amy, and Phil

COURTNEY G. LEE
Professor of Lawyering Skills
Director of Bar Support
McGeorge School of Law
University of the Pacific
3200 Fifth Ave., Sacramento, CA 95817
916.739.7242
McGeorge.edu

November 3, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 20, 2017

Registration Deadline for WCCASP Conference is Today!

Today is the deadline for registration!!!! The link is here:  Registration for WCCASP

 

West Coast Consortium

of Academic Support Professionals

Sixth Annual Conference:  Lost in Translation

Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, CA

Friday, November 3, 2017

AGENDA

9:00-9:30am:  Breakfast & Welcome

9:30-10:15am:  Critical Reading: Strategies for Success

Jane Bloom Grisé, University of Kentucky College of Law

This presentation will explain why law students need to receive instruction in critical reading and will provide specific strategies that will enable students to understand cases and statutes. Law students should not be expected to learn critical reading techniques in one orientation session in their 1L year. Rather, they should be introduced to these strategies over the course of their law school experience. The presentation will focus on the purpose for reading cases, reading as an advocate and with focus, case structure and civil and criminal procedure, context and overview, understanding the facts, strategies to use to understand text, strategies to use to understand main ideas, finding rules, case evaluation, case briefing, case synthesis, and reading statutes. The presentation also will offer ideas regarding how critical reading instruction can be incorporated into all law school courses.

10:15-10:25am Break 

10:25-11:10am:  The Power of Post-Its: How to use a set of sticky notes to promote analytical organization, peer communication, and student self-assessment

Katherine Silver Kelly, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

The Post-It Note Activity builds on the concept that, because feedback is a vital key to developing strong communication skills, academic support professionals should utilize high-impact and high-engagement modes of feedback that do not impose an impossible time commitment. In other words, get a lot of bang for the buck. The activity also supports the goal of law students developing the necessary ability to self-assess and become independent problem-solvers. The Post-It Note Activity is the perfect balance between guidance and independence that reinforces the importance of synthesizing rules and organizing concepts in order to see and understand an analytical framework. It also develops communication skills in that students must be able to articulate their ideas into a tangible form. This activity works for any type of learner because it allows a student to engage material on multiple analytical levels, recognize multiple solution paths, and use multiple communication tools.

11:10-11:20am Break

11:20-12:20pm: KeyNote Speaker

 Ron Pi, Principal Analyst for the Office of Research & Institutional Accountability at the State Bar of California

In this presentation, Mr. Pi will provide an overview of the various bar exam related studies the California Bar Exam has recently been engaged in with a focus on the content validation study. Mr. Pi organized and monitored the recent content validation workshop. This workshop’s focus included the depth of knowledge, skills and abilities required for passing the bar exam. Mr. Pi will also discuss future research plans to be conducted by the California Bar.

12:20-1:15pm Lunch

1:15-2:00pm:  From Practical Experience to Success in the Classroom, on the Bar Exam, and Beyond.

Marguerite Lee & Heather Varanini, Golden Gate University School of Law

In this presentation we will discuss how practical experiences gained in law school informed our current work teaching first year law students how to build and maintain the skills they need to succeed in law school and on the bar exam. The presentation will explore the connection between explaining complicated legal topics to clients and other non-legal people, and the challenge of breaking down those same legal topics for first year law students and those preparing for the bar.

2:00-2:10pm: Break

2:10-2:55pm: A.S.A.P. as a Multimodal Translator of Student Mindset: Balancing Old School Methods with the New

Any Vaughan-Thomas, California Western School of Law

“It is not that the student can’t do the work, it is that the student does not want to do the work.” This presentation seeks to critically examine the mindsets of 50 students when they entered California Western School of Law’s Academic Support and Assistance Program (A.S.A.P.) in comparison to the mindset of the 34 students that successfully completed the program to advance into upper division. The goal of the presentation is to identify the teaching methods that helped these students translate information, engage with their materials, and apply their knowledge to solve legal problems. Ultimately we ask, “Can this program change a student’s mindset?” And if so, what is it about this program that motivates the change?

2:55-3:05: Break 

3:05-4:05pm The Complete Cycle of Law Study and Exam Preparation Lesson

Laurie Zimet & Jennifer Freeland, UC Hastings College of the Law

In this interactive presentation, we will demonstrate a lesson that provides an overview of the entire legal analysis process. Using active learning pedagogy, students learn how to read a court decision, and how to extract the legal principles from that case to create a brief. Then, using the same and additional cases, we will share active learning exercises for promoting understanding of the precedential value of previous cases and various approaches to reasoning by analogy. Finally, exercises to organize/outline case law for application to essay and multiple choice exams will be addressed as well as methods for student self-assessment. 

4:05-4:15pm: Break 

4:15-5:00pm Back It Up: Improving Analysis by First Improving Rule Comprehension

Queena Mewers, UC Irvine School of Law

When teaching “IRAC,” we tend to focus on the “A” section and help our students express their analysis more fully by prompting them to fill in the following blank with facts and inferences: “Here, [element X] is met because ______.” Although students can typically fill in the blank with facts and inferences when specifically prompted this way, they struggle to generate this formula on their own because they actually often do not understand what are all the rule elements they must apply in the first place to effect a complete analysis of an issue. In this presentation, I will suggest a general method for teaching rule comprehension so that students can better identify, extract, and organize rules in preparation for writing the “A” section. I will also provide several follow-on exercises that utilize and reinforce this teaching method while helping students with critical reading, outlining, and actually writing the “A” section. 

                                                                                5:00pm Conference Close

October 20, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 16, 2017

October Slump and Shout-Outs

I first want to provide a special shout-out to Russell McClain, the University of Baltimore School of Law, and everyone involved with the planning and running of the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) Diversity Conference. The presentations and accompanying dialogue were informative and thought provoking. And, as always, the camaraderie among the law school academic support community and the community’s genuine interest in law student success were inspiring and helped serve as continued motivation to push us through the rest of the academic semester.

I also want to provide a separate shout-out to my colleague, Rachel Gurvich. I have mentioned Rachel’s name and Twitter handle (@RachelGurvich) on several occasions at law school conferences and on this blog. Rachel recently wrote an ASP-ish post on The #Practice Tuesday blog. The post, entitled, “It’s not so shiny anymore: 1Ls and the October slump”, provides seven tips on how 1Ls can push through the rest of the academic semester. I encourage you and your students to take a look at the post and follow Rachel on Twitter. She’s a great colleague and resource at Carolina and beyond—her Tweets have reached and supported law students throughout the country, including this one and this one.

Rachel and Sean Marotta (@smmarotta) started The #Practice Tuesday blog as an opportunity to expand their #Practice Tuesday discussions on Twitter. On Tuesday afternoons, Rachel and Sean lead great discussions on “advice and musings on legal practice and the profession.” Participants in the discussions include practitioners, judges, and law school faculty and students throughout the country. Feel free to join in on the conversations!

Again, thanks to Russell McClain and everyone involved with the AASE Diversity Conference! And, thanks, to my amazing colleague Rachel Gurvich! (OJ Salinas)

October 16, 2017 in Advice, Current Affairs, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Meetings, Miscellany, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Deadline for WCCASP Conference registration is Friday, October 20th

The deadline for registration  is Friday, October 20th.

 

West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Sixth Annual Conference:  Lost in Translation

Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco, CA

Friday, November 3, 2017

AGENDA

9:00-9:30am:  Breakfast & Welcome

9:30-10:15am:  Critical Reading: Strategies for Success

Jane Bloom Grisé, University of Kentucky College of Law

This presentation will explain why law students need to receive instruction in critical reading and will provide specific strategies that will enable students to understand cases and statutes. Law students should not be expected to learn critical reading techniques in one orientation session in their 1L year. Rather, they should be introduced to these strategies over the course of their law school experience. The presentation will focus on the purpose for reading cases, reading as an advocate and with focus, case structure and civil and criminal procedure, context and overview, understanding the facts, strategies to use to understand text, strategies to use to understand main ideas, finding rules, case evaluation, case briefing, case synthesis, and reading statutes. The presentation also will offer ideas regarding how critical reading instruction can be incorporated into all law school courses.

10:15-10:25am Break 

10:25-11:10am:  The Power of Post-Its: How to use a set of sticky notes to promote analytical organization, peer communication, and student self-assessment

Katherine Silver Kelly, The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

The Post-It Note Activity builds on the concept that, because feedback is a vital key to developing strong communication skills, academic support professionals should utilize high-impact and high-engagement modes of feedback that do not impose an impossible time commitment. In other words, get a lot of bang for the buck. The activity also supports the goal of law students developing the necessary ability to self-assess and become independent problem-solvers. The Post-It Note Activity is the perfect balance between guidance and independence that reinforces the importance of synthesizing rules and organizing concepts in order to see and understand an analytical framework. It also develops communication skills in that students must be able to articulate their ideas into a tangible form. This activity works for any type of learner because it allows a student to engage material on multiple analytical levels, recognize multiple solution paths, and use multiple communication tools.

11:10-11:20am Break

11:20-12:20pm: KeyNote Speaker

 Ron Pi, Principal Analyst for the Office of Research & Institutional Accountability at the State Bar of California

In this presentation, Mr. Pi will provide an overview of the various bar exam related studies the California Bar Exam has recently been engaged in with a focus on the content validation study. Mr. Pi organized and monitored the recent content validation workshop. This workshop’s focus included the depth of knowledge, skills and abilities required for passing the bar exam. Mr. Pi will also discuss future research plans to be conducted by the California Bar.

12:20-1:15pm Lunch

1:15-2:00pm:  From Practical Experience to Success in the Classroom, on the Bar Exam, and Beyond.

Marguerite Lee & Heather Varanini, Golden Gate University School of Law

In this presentation we will discuss how practical experiences gained in law school informed our current work teaching first year law students how to build and maintain the skills they need to succeed in law school and on the bar exam. The presentation will explore the connection between explaining complicated legal topics to clients and other non-legal people, and the challenge of breaking down those same legal topics for first year law students and those preparing for the bar.

2:00-2:10pm: Break

2:10-2:55pm: A.S.A.P. as a Multimodal Translator of Student Mindset: Balancing Old School Methods with the New

Any Vaughan-Thomas, California Western School of Law

“It is not that the student can’t do the work, it is that the student does not want to do the work.” This presentation seeks to critically examine the mindsets of 50 students when they entered California Western School of Law’s Academic Support and Assistance Program (A.S.A.P.) in comparison to the mindset of the 34 students that successfully completed the program to advance into upper division. The goal of the presentation is to identify the teaching methods that helped these students translate information, engage with their materials, and apply their knowledge to solve legal problems. Ultimately we ask, “Can this program change a student’s mindset?” And if so, what is it about this program that motivates the change?

2:55-3:05: Break 

3:05-4:05pm The Complete Cycle of Law Study and Exam Preparation Lesson

Laurie Zimet & Jennifer Freeland, UC Hastings College of the Law

In this interactive presentation, we will demonstrate a lesson that provides an overview of the entire legal analysis process. Using active learning pedagogy, students learn how to read a court decision, and how to extract the legal principles from that case to create a brief. Then, using the same and additional cases, we will share active learning exercises for promoting understanding of the precedential value of previous cases and various approaches to reasoning by analogy. Finally, exercises to organize/outline case law for application to essay and multiple choice exams will be addressed as well as methods for student self-assessment. 

4:05-4:15pm: Break 

4:15-5:00pm Back It Up: Improving Analysis by First Improving Rule Comprehension

Queena Mewers, UC Irvine School of Law

When teaching “IRAC,” we tend to focus on the “A” section and help our students express their analysis more fully by prompting them to fill in the following blank with facts and inferences: “Here, [element X] is met because ______.” Although students can typically fill in the blank with facts and inferences when specifically prompted this way, they struggle to generate this formula on their own because they actually often do not understand what are all the rule elements they must apply in the first place to effect a complete analysis of an issue. In this presentation, I will suggest a general method for teaching rule comprehension so that students can better identify, extract, and organize rules in preparation for writing the “A” section. I will also provide several follow-on exercises that utilize and reinforce this teaching method while helping students with critical reading, outlining, and actually writing the “A” section.

 

                                                                                5:00pm Conference Close

October 15, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Call for Nominations for AALS Section on Academic Support Award

Dear ASP Colleagues,

I am pleased to report that the Awards Committee for the AALS Section on Academic Support is soliciting nominations for our annual section award winner.  The AALS Section Award will be presented to an outstanding member of the ASP community at our section meeting at the January 2018 AALS Annual Meeting.  Please review the eligibility and criteria information below and send nominations directly to me, Awards Committee Chair, at nattgan@regent.edu

The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, October 20 at 5:00 p.m. EST.  Only AALS ASP Section members may make nominations, but all those within the ASP community may be nominated.  Membership in the section is free and can be processed by e-mailing a membership request to support@aals.org.  For a nomination to be considered, it must include (at a minimum) a one to two paragraph explanation of why the nominee is deserving of the award.  (If you have already submitted a nomination to me, you do not need to re-send it; I will simply include that nomination with any additional ones received.)

Eligibility and Criteria for Selection.  The eligible nominees for the award are individuals who have made significant and/or long-term contributions to the development of the field of law student academic support.  All legal educators, regardless of the nature or longevity of their appointment or position, who have at some point in their careers worked part-time or full-time in academic support are eligible for the award.  The award will be granted to recognize those who have made such contributions through any combination of the following activities: 

  • service to the profession and to professional institutions—e.g., advocacy with the NCBE or assumption of leadership roles in the ASP community;
  • support to and mentoring of ASP colleagues;
  • support to and mentoring of students;
  • promoting diversity in the profession and expanding access to the legal profession; and
  • developing ideas or innovations—whether disseminated through academic writing, newsletters, conference presentations, or over the listserv.

Law schools, institutions, or organizations cannot receive an award.  Prior year or current year Section officers are excluded from being selected as an award winner.

The Committee looks forward to receiving your nominations.  Please let me know if you have any questions, and I hope the remainder of your semester goes well!.

Blessings,

Natt

L.O. Natt Gantt, II

Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs

Co-Director, Center for Ethical Formation and Legal Education Reform

Regent University School of Law

  1. 757.352.4734; f. 757.352.4571

nattgan@regent.edu

October 13, 2017 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Dare to Disclose?

The counseling field has often highlighted the benefits of some personal disclosure from therapists to their clients. Some cited benefits include increased trust and rapport, as well validation of the clients’ experiences.

Join me this week at the Inaugural Diversity Conference for the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) in Baltimore, Maryland, for a moderated discussion on the benefits of academic support professionals sharing personal stories and struggles with their students.

Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences (i.e., their stories or struggles) relating to diversity and inclusion or their law school experience in general. These experiences may either be personal stories or struggles or stories related to students that the participants may have worked with in their capacity as academic support professionals. As presenters and participants share their stories, the “listening” participants will be modeling and reviewing some of the same active listening skills and nonverbal behaviors that academic support professionals should be engaging in when they work with students in either individual or group conferences.

Hope to see you in Maryland! (OJ Salinas)

October 9, 2017 in Advice, Disability Matters, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Learning Styles, Meetings, Miscellany, News, Professionalism, Program Evaluation, Stress & Anxiety, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, October 8, 2017

ILTL Summer 2018 Conference Information

SAVE THE DATE

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning—Summer 2018 Conference

Exploring the Use of Technology in the Law School Classroom

June 18-20

Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane, Washington

Conference Theme: During this conference, we will explore the many and varied uses of technology in the law school classroom to improve student learning. The conference will focus on how law schools and professors are incorporating technology across the curriculum to enhance students’ learning in many areas such as assessments, group work, peer feedback, professor feedback, self-evaluation, and other skills.

Conference Proposals: The Institute will issue a Call for Proposals later this year inviting proposals for 60-minute workshop sessions addressing the conference theme. Proposals will be due by February 1, 2018.

Conference Structure: The conference will consist of a series of concurrent workshops that will take place on Tuesday, June 19 and Wednesday, June 20. The conference will open with an informal reception on Monday evening, June 18. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning and the Gonzaga University School of Law.

Who Should Attend: This conference is for all law faculty, adjuncts, and administrators.

Registration Information: The conference fee for participants is $400, which includes materials, meals during the conference (two breakfasts and two lunches), and the welcome reception Sunday, June 17. The conference fee for presenters is $300. Details regarding the registration process will be provided in future announcements.

Accommodations: A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees will be announced in the next couple of months. These hotels will be within walking distance from the law school. There is easy transportation to and from the airport, so a rental car may not be necessary.

October 8, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 18, 2017

1L Enrichment Groups

I am having an Enrichment Group Leaders training meeting today at noon. So, I have enrichment groups on my mind (hence, the blog post!). Perhaps, many of you are also working with enrichment groups or are thinking about developing enrichment groups. I am sure many of us would love to chat and learn more about our various programs and how we can continue to best serve our students. We can continue the conversation via email or on Twitter (tweet me @ojsalinas, and use #lawschoolASP).

Like many law school academic success programs throughout the country, we provide an opportunity for our 1L students to get additional training and support from upper level students. One way that we provide this opportunity to our 1Ls is through participation in Enrichment Groups.

Every 1L student at Carolina Law is invited to participate in our Academic Excellence Program Enrichment Groups. These groups are run by upper level law students who have done well in school and have shown the ability to do well in mentoring and meeting with students. 1Ls are assigned to their groups based on their 1L professors, and the groups are “tied” to two of the 1L casebook classes—with one upper level student “Enrichment Group Leader” often taking the lead on one of the two casebook classes.

The groups typically meet once a week for about 50 minutes starting late September. The groups alternate discussing ASP topics related to one of their two casebook classes during the group meetings. These topics change as the 1Ls advance during the semester. So, the initial group meeting may simply focus on developing rapport within the group and identifying group member goals for choosing to participate in the group. The next groups may focus on taking notes and case reading for the particular casebook classes. Later group meetings may introduce outlining and the use of study aids to help review practice questions related to the casebook classes. And, finally, we try to end our semester with a practice exam for each of the two casebook classes.

We generally have strong positive feedback from our 1Ls on our Enrichment Groups. Students typically feel that the groups are great ways to provide additional support and guidance in their classes. They also like the idea that these study groups are voluntary and that the groups are already formed for them—the students don’t have to worry about not getting “chosen” or “asked” to join a particular study group.

As I mentioned, I am having a training session for our Enrichment Group Leaders this afternoon. One thing that we try to emphasize with our leaders and their group participants is that the leaders are not “tutors.” They are not there to teach the 1Ls the substantive law, and they certainly don’t replace their law school professors. While the leaders have done well in the casebook class that they are “leading” (and, many of them actually had the same professor for that particular casebook class during their 1L year), our Enrichment Group Leaders are there to help facilitate learning. They are there to provide further support for our students. They are there to “enrich” the students’ 1L academic experience. And we believe a more enriched 1L experience is a better 1L experience. (OJ Salinas)

September 18, 2017 in Advice, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Meetings, Miscellany, Program Evaluation, Reading, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 11, 2017

ASP During Challenging Times

It’s been a potentially challenging time for many law students throughout the country. But, I am not necessarily talking about the challenges directly related to the study of law.

Yes. Case readings can be quite lengthy. There may be anxiety related to getting called on in class. And students may sometimes feel like there is not enough time in the day to complete everything that seems to be needed to be completed to succeed in law school. These are all potential challenges that our students may currently be experiencing. But, the last month or so may have seemingly added an entire new set of challenges to our students.

While many students have tried to remain engaged in their studies, events outside of the law school building may have continued to place additional burdens on them. Between Charlottesville, Hurricane Harvey, DACA, and Hurricane Irma, many of our students have had to face or worry about things that they would not have initially had on their radar going into the start of law school (no hurricane pun intended).

It’s difficult to stay motivated and engaged to read for class or write that LRW memo when you are worried about your safety and security or the safety and security of your families and friends. It’s hard to turn away from the news of devastation and despair when you are either living in that devastation and despair or know someone who is.

Law school is a challenging time for our students. And events outside of the law school building may have continued to place additional challenges on our students. It’s during these challenging times that it is especially important to have a friendly, supportive, and understanding ASP professional in the law school building. While we may not immediately have all or any of the answers related to some of these challenging events, we surely can welcome our students into our offices. We can sit down with them and actively listen to their stories. We can empathetically try to help them find some answers or refer them to those who may more appropriately serve them during these challenging and unfortunate times. (OJ Salinas)

Support pic earth

 

September 11, 2017 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Miscellany, News, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Sixth Annual West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Call for Proposals

The Sixth Annual West Coast Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Conference, which will occur at Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco on Friday, November 3, 2017. Please consider submitting a proposal following the attached guidelines by Friday, September 29. The registration link will be provided in a couple weeks. The guidelines for proposals are found here: Download WCCASP 2017 Call for Proposals.

September 9, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Conference on Legal Theory

"The Importance of Theory in the Law School Classroom and in the Practice of Law"

New England Law | Boston is excited to host an afternoon of robust conversation regarding the value of legal theory in modern legal education and practice. The event, to be held Thursday, September 14, 2017, is open to the public, though advance registration is requested.

The legal profession is undergoing profound changes. Law schools have been responding to the changing world of law practice with a push toward making graduates more practice ready than ever before. Most schools now offer a variety of clinical programs, internships, and summer work opportunities. In this context, we will join together for a lively exploration across traditional practice area divides to consider the value of “legal theory” in legal education and in the practice of law.

The Center for Business Law at New England Law | Boston is sponsoring a one-day conference to explore the value and relevance of legal theory. At its core, legal theory can be thought of as a lens to engage in thinking not only about how the law currently works but also as part of a values-driven inquiry into how the law should work.

The conference will explore topics such as:

  • Is the teaching of legal theory in conflict with making students practice ready upon graduation?
  • Is legal theory relevant to the practitioners struggling to advise clients?
  • How can legal theory best be taught and in what courses?
  • What understanding of legal theory should well-educated lawyers take from their legal education?

Any member of the legal community is welcome to attend this conference, including all New England Law students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Other law school faculty are encouraged to attend as well.

Speakers

When and Where

The conference will take place on Thursday, September 14, 2017, in New England Law’s Cherry Room, 154 Stuart Street, Boston, MA 02116.

  • Registration: 12:00 p.m.–12:45 p.m.
  • Program: 12:45 p.m.–5:30 p.m.
  • Reception: 5:30 p.m.–6:15 p.m.

Registration

There is no charge to attend; however, advance registration is requested. Register via email to pgresham@nesl.edu or jchavez@nesl.edu.

For more information, contact New England Law Professors Gary Monserud at gmonserud@nesl.edu or Lisa Freudenheim at lfreudenheim@nesl.edu.

https://www.nesl.edu/practical-experiences/centers/center-for-business-law/news-events/new-england-law-center-to-host-one-day-legal-theory-conference

August 26, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Registration Now Open for AASE Diversity Conference

The following information is provided by Russell A. McClain (University of Maryland):

Hello, Fellow ASPers.

I am truly pleased to announce that registration for the Inaugural AASE Diversity Conference is now open.  You can register for the conference, view the program, and reserve a hotel room through the following web page:  AASE Diversity Conference Portal.

As you make travel plans, please remember that the Maryland Journal of Race, Religion, Gender and Class will host a symposium on the morning of October 12, just prior to the conference, which begins that afternoon.   Soon, I will send out more information about the symposium, which will feature talks by several of our ASP colleagues.  Their papers will be published in the journal’s symposium edition this fall.  If you plan to attend the symposium, I recommend flying in on Wednesday evening, October 11.  The hotel conference rate is available Wednesday through Friday. 

I look forward to seeing you in October.

August 19, 2017 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

ASPers Should Consider the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) Conference

I went to the Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS) conference for the first time. SEALS is different than most (all?) other conferences that I have attended as an academic support professor. Although the conference is not specifically academic support focused, SEALS has a variety of sessions that will interest any ASPer, including legal writing topics, effective teaching strategies, formative assessment techniques, balancing dual administrative and faculty appointments, and the like. Plus, if you also focus on a doctrinal area, SEALS has numerous sessions for that too. (You can view the full 2017 schedule here.) 

SEALS is primarily comprised of three presentation formats: (1) panel presentations, (2) roundtables, and (3) moderated discussion groups. The panels consist of three of four structured job talk-esque presentations followed by a question-and-answer session. While intriguing and thoughtfully presented, the panels are not what makes SEALS a draw for attendees. Meanwhile, the roundtables function similar to a typical “What I Wish I Would Have Known” event during a law school’s orientation week. For example, I attended a roundtable discussion where a dozen new professors were able to chat with current and former law school deans about what a typical dean expects of newer professors. 

The most interesting format, however, is the moderated discussion group. The moderator of the discussion group invites roughly 10 different individuals to pitch their projects or ideas, all of which are at varying stages of development. Each pre-selected "discussant" talks for 5-10 minutes and then the other attendees ask questions and provide feedback, in a very low stakes supportive environment. This continues for two or three hours. Most discussion groups encourage discussants to focus on a pre-selected theme, but the conference rules tend to be loosely enforced in a way that encourages innovation and brainstorming. Anyone can attend a discussion session and participate in the responsive comment period, but if you want to guarantee yourself a few spotlight minutes to pitch your idea, then you should get on the discussant list by reaching out to the moderator. I attended several discussion groups and even got to pitch an idea at one session, despite not being on the pre-selected list by simply reaching out to the moderator via email a few days before the event. A pre-selected discussant could not make the conference at the last-minute and I was permitted to use their designated slot. I was told my email strategy (which was suggested to me by a seasoned SEALS participant) is somewhat common at SEALS. Thus, I encourage you to consider the same approach if you find yourself at SEALS without a specific invitation to speak. 

Another feature which makes SEALS unique is the family-friendly atmosphere. Likely because SEALS is hosted in a warm-weather, beachy environment, many attendees opt to bring their friends and families. In fact, SEALS actually encourages guests by providing each person with an official conference name tag and invitation to numerous receptions throughout the week. 

Lastly, if I were asked to describe SEALS in a word, I would say “relaxed.” Few attendees attend all of the sessions; rather most attendees balance work-and-play very nicely at SEALS. There is no pressure to attend the entire event. The conference is long enough (10 days) that you can pick the few days that interest you most. SEALS planners even send all participants a special link to a Crowd Compass App to encourage everyone to create their own personal conference itinerary. The App allows you to set session reminders, prompts you with presenters’ names, and lets you search for other attendees. All in all, SEALS was a nice break from the more traditional academic conference. (Kirsha Trychta)

August 15, 2017 in Meetings, Program Evaluation, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 24, 2017

ALWD Intro and Bar Exam Encouragement

This last week, I attended and participated in a diversity and inclusion conference hosted by the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The three-day conference was engaging and timely. And it included a thought provoking and informative plenary presentation on stereotype threat and implicit bias by fellow-ASPer, Russell McClain. Having seen Russell present before at various ASP conferences, I knew he would be a charming and enlightening presenter—and he certainly was! Congratulations, Russell! I know the ALWD attendees were impressed by your interactive presentation, and I am sure many of them will be reaching out to you in the future for additional ways to address stereotype threat and implicit bias.

I plan to write some more about the ALWD conference and its theme “Acknowledging Lines: Talking About What Unites and Divides Us” at a later date. But, for now, I wanted to spend a little time talking about what is likely on the minds of most academic success professionals and all the recent law school graduates—the bar exam.

Exam takers: We all know you have been working hard, and we believe in you. The next few days will be beyond tough and tiring. But, you have trained your mind and body for it.

Yes. You will likely second-guess yourself. Yes. You will likely face questions that you might not feel good about. But, you are also going to see and work with a lot of information that you do understand and have encountered many times during your bar preparation. Trust yourself. Read the questions carefully. Organize your essays. And don’t let those few questions that you might not know the answers to bring you down. You don’t need to get that A+ to pass. If you spend too much time focusing on the information that you don’t know or can’t remember, you may not leave yourself enough time or energy to show the bar graders what you do know. And you do know. A lot.

A few more things . . . remember to breathe and it’ll be over soon.

We look forward to welcoming you into the profession. (OJ Salinas)

Good Luck (2)

 

July 24, 2017 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Current Affairs, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, News, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

ILTL Cultural Competency Takeaways, 2 of 2

This blog post is the second in a two-part series detailing my takeaways from the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning’s “Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills” conference which was held in Little Rock, Arkansas on July 7-8, 2017.  For part one of the series, click here.

Professor Andrew Henderson from the University of Canberra in Australia discussed “The Importance of Teaching Self-Evaluation and Reflection in Law School,” especially in an ethics course.  One study revealed that when presented with an ethical dilemma, law students tend to resolve the dilemma consistent with their personal beliefs and without regard for the professional rule of conduct.  The students answered the same question the same way before taking an ethics course, while taking the course, and after successfully completing the course.  In other words, professional responsibility courses do little to teach ethical judgment makings skills.  Knowing this, Professor Henderson sought to design a course that would reframe the discussion entirely  He required students to identify their internal motivations, such as what makes them get up in the morning, what keeps them awake at night, why do they want to be a lawyer.  He then used the students’ responses as a means to jumpstart a conversation and to identify the intersection between the students’ self-identified motivations and the ethical rules.  He reported that students have become more engaged in the ethics course and that the student responses have also helped to provide more targeted academic advising and job placement advice.  At the end of the discussion, a few attendees discussed how a similar exercise could be added to the start of the 1L year to assist academic support professors in providing more tailored advice to at risk students.

Henderson 3

Professor Benjamin Madison of Regent University School of Law and his colleagues developed a course to “Help[] Millennials Develop Self-Reflection.” The mandatory 1L class focuses on the development of problem solving skills, emotional intelligence, responsibility, and “other” ABA mandated skills.  To begin, students get to request a specific faculty coach.  The school makes every effort, but does not guarantee, to match students with their top choice.  Next, students meet with their designated faculty coach to complete an intake self-assessment or “roadmap.”  After the student self-assesses him/herself, the student is assessed on those same skills by two of their peers.  Professor Madison has already noted several trends at his school.  First, 1L students frequently rate themselves quite high (i.e. mastery level) despite having little to no professional development training, and students rate their peers even higher.  Essentially students “don’t know what they don’t know.”  This phenomenon is commonly referred to as the Kruger-Dunning effect in psychological circles.  Second, students gravitate toward those peers who unequivocally support them, rather than peers who challenge them and hold them accountable.  Lastly, students are more concerned about obtaining meaningful employment than making a sufficient income, which is especially intriguing when you consider internal motivation as a component of self-refection.  (As an aside, their research concluded that the primary professional goal for 1L students is to pass the bar exam – whew!).  Professor Madison said that if other schools are interested in adopting a similar program, they should reach out to the St. Thomas School of Law Holloran Center, which “continues to focus on its mission to help the next generation form professional identifies with a moral core of responsibility and strive to others.”

Madison 3

Professor Christine Church of Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School Immerses Students in Lawyering Skills.  Her nine credit program is centered on all-day classes that simulate a law practice environment.  During the 14-week semester, four distinct four-person law firms handle three cases: (1) a custody battle requiring intense interviewing, counseling, and negotiation skills, (2) a personal injury suit involving pretrial litigation skills, and (3) a DUI criminal trial.  The clients are actually other law students who are completing a 1-credit directed study, relying on the principles discussed in the book “Through the Client’s Eyes” for guidance.  The “attorneys” within each firm exchange documents throughout the week using Google Docs and then meet on Saturdays to engage in simulation exercises.  Professor Church commented that the unique course schedule—which is ABA Standard 310 compliant—has helped students to develop the stamina needed to study for the bar exam and actually practice law on a daily basis.  The program now has a waitlist; students love it!  She concluded the session by sharing a plethora of fact patterns, grading rubrics, and syllabi to assist participants in establishing their own litigation skills immersion program.

Church 3

After Professor Church’s session, I enjoyed a tasty Greek salad lunch. In my view, a good indicator of the quality of a conference is the quality of the breaks.  ILTL did not disappoint.  Not only was the host school welcoming and attentive, but all the attendees were more than willing to offer helpful suggestions at every turn—well beyond the theme of the conference.  Many thanks to those who shared teaching tips, performance review and tenure advice, and general support to this junior faculty member.  And, let me extend a special shout out to one colleague’s pet squirrel!

Before I wrap-up, let me share the most bizarre tidbit I heard while in Little Rock.  One professor explained that one of her students genuinely believes that some version of the following conversation occurs routinely at her law school—Professor A to Professor B: “When Mary comes to your office to discuss her exam, tell her that her poor grade is due to an underdeveloped rule block.  And, when you meet with John, tell him that he needs to work on his application.  That’s what we’re all going with this semester.”  The student came to this epiphany after every single one of her professors targeted the same exact exam skill for improvement. Feel free to insert the emoji of your choice here.

I wish I could tell you about all the concurrent sessions, but unfortunately my J.K. Rowling approved Time-Turner is not TSA approved.  I heard chatter in the hallway suggesting that I missed several good sessions, but as author Ashim Shanker has noted, “freedom brings with it the burden of choice and of its consequences.”  For those who are interested in learning more about the other sessions or about the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning’s larger mission, checkout the Institute’s webpage.  (Kirsha Trychta)

July 18, 2017 in Meetings, Program Evaluation, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

ILTL Cultural Competency Takeaways, 1 of 2

I attended the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning’s “Teaching Cultural Competency and Other Professional Skills” conference on July 7-8, 2017 at the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas.  The conference opened with a quick sticky dot poll of the attendees.  The dots revealed that while most professors felt comfortable teaching skills like trial practice, negotiations, and document drafting, only a few were confident in their ability to teach cultural competencies in the classroom.  In an attempt to ameliorate this (real or perceived) deficiency, the approximately fifty attendees—a surprisingly even mix of doctrinal, clinical, legal writing, and academic support professors—worked collaboratively for two days to develop a portfolio of concrete exercises to satisfy ABA Standard 302.  What follows are some of my major takeaways:

The first suggestion was to “[Bring] Marginalized Populations into the [Legal Writing] Classroom.” Elon Law Professors Thomas Noble, Patricia Perkins, and Catherine Wasson explained how they each drafted a legal writing factual scenario involving a potentially unsympathetic and culturally diverse plaintiff: an Egyptian immigrant, a convicted felon, and a mentally ill survivalist, respectively.  These plaintiffs’ legal claims were then further complicated by the intentional inclusion of gender neutral names, ethnic sounding names, ambiguous facts, and words with strong connotations (think: “fetus” versus “the child”).  These professors crafted case files that not only required students to learn the mechanics of legal writing, but also forced students to confront their biases in a thoughtful and controlled way.  Occasionally students made unwarranted assumptions which allowed the class to discuss the importance of understanding cultural sensitivity and implicit bias.  Other students wanted to “help” by taking action contrary to the client’s expressed desires creating a great opportunity to talk about the ethical complexities of being a counselor-at-law.  The presenters reported that many students came to realize that there might not always be a “right” answer, especially when dealing with legal issues that intersect with human dignity and diverse cultural norms. 

  Elon Profs

Next we discussed the importance of “Building [a] Student[’s] Capacity for Self-Evaluation” with the use of a robust “soft skills” rubric.  Before the presenters shared their rubric, Professors Lauren Onkeles-Klein and Robert Dinerstein used Mentimeter’s in-class polling software to highlight that professors view self-assessment as an opportunity for student “reflection,” but students view self-assessment exercises as “painful busywork”—regardless of whether the assessment process occurs in a doctrinal class, legal writing course, or the clinical setting.  The question then became: how do we shift student mindset about self-assessment?  Their response was to create a rubric that establishes expectations early and often, introduces a common language around measuring skill, and reframes the connection between self-assessment and grades.  Professor Dinerstein discussed the rubric’s evolution from a one-page outline to an unwieldy 15+ page document, before he finally settled on a streamlined 10-page student self-assessment form, which borrows heavily from assessments commonly used in medical residency training.  Throughout the academic year, supervising professors repeatedly remind students that the goal is “competence” not “mastery” during law school.  The current form also highlights long-term patterns within the individual student’s self-assessment, clarifies conflicts between student partners, and frequently invites a dialogue about the importance of teamwork in a law firm setting.  The presenters reported that students do, in fact, get better at self-assessment over time through the interactive and frequent assessment process.  Anyone interested in reviewing, or possibly adopting, the presenters’ rubric handouts are invited to reach out to the authors directly for permission.  (Sorry about the sideways picture below; I am still learning the blog-posting ropes.) 

  American Profs

After a delicious taco lunch break, we went back to work “Grow[ing] Future Lawyers in the Image of ABA Standard 302…”.   Three professors from West Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School explained how they successfully embedded the same acquaintance rape fact pattern in all three years of law school. In Professor Tonya Krause-Phelan’s 1L criminal law course students learned the elements of rape before conducting an in class jury trial. In Professor Victoria Vuletich’s 2L evidence course students reexamined their 1L trial with fresh eyes, having now learned the Rape Shield Laws. Then, as a 3L in the public defender’s clinic, Professor Tracey Brame set aside time to talk about the unique cultural sensitivities required to competently represent a defendant or victim in a sexual assault case.  Reusing the same factual scenario in each year enabled the same students to see the same story from a variety of different legal angles.  In addition to reusing the same hypothetical, the three professors created a long-term structure of evolving course rules to better reflect the students’ growth from year-to-year.  During the first year, Professor “K-P” drafted and enforced detailed courses rules, with no input from the students.  She was careful, however, to relate the classroom rules to the real practice of law, such as why it is critical to be able to take handwritten notes.  Then in the second year, the students were allowed to establish the classroom rules, including the sanctions for rule violation. For example, students opted to impose a “must bring treats” penalty to anyone who was late to class without good cause.  Then in the final year, the same cohort had to compare and contrast the rule-following required in 1L year with the rule making privileges of 2L year.

Cooley Profs

CUNY School of Law Professors Deborah Zalesne and David Nadvorney offered suggestions on how to help “underprepared law students” acquire the “other” skills mentioned in ABA Standard 302(d).  Session attendees read a few pages of a Contracts case and quickly identified legal terms that could be troublesome for any first-year student.  The presenters then pointed out numerous non-legal terms (e.g. “paradigm” or “doctrine”) which also have the potential to hinder an underprepared student.  To combat this problem in their own classrooms, the presenters have made a conscious effort to introduce a new concept in the students’ first language, before layering on the more professional vocabulary.  Avoiding the lawyer dominant language at the outset enables students to focus on the larger legal framework (i.e. to think big) without getting bogged down in the line-by-line details of the case.  Then they systematically work through the case with the students, helping them to understand each line and each new term.  The presenters also stressed the importance of being sensitive to students’ wrong answers.  In short, taking the time to mentor these students at the start will allow the students to make larger long-term gains during the semester.

  CUNY Profs

I attended several other sessions. I’ll give you the details of those sessions in part two of this two-part series.  Coming soon!

(Kirsha Trychta)

July 11, 2017 in Meetings, Program Evaluation, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Hello and Kudos!

Hello! I just accepted an invitation to contribute to this blog and this is my first post. In the future I hope to post on a wide range of topics, representing the varied duties common to academic support professors. But, for this debut post, I want to echo Betsy Six’s suggestion during the closing remarks at AASE to send a kudos email (my words, not hers) to a colleague. Did someone really impress you with their presentation? Did you have a conversation with a colleague in the hallway that changed the way you think about academic support? If so, let them—and their boss—know about it. Don’t worry; it’s not too late. Ask Emily Post. Don’t know what to say? Try putting your own spin on this template:

Dear Dean [X],

I write to tell you what a nice job [name] did on [his/her] presentation entitled “[title]” at the Association of Academic Support Educators Conference in Fort Worth, Texas in May. [Name’s] presentation was innovative, insightful, and engaging. The presentation laid out several concrete [descriptive noun] ideas which attendees (like myself) could implement at their own institutions. Kudos to [name], and to you and your institution for supporting [his/her] work. [Name] is a great asset to the academic support professors’ community!

In closing, just let me say congratulations to everyone who organized, presented at, and attended the annual AASE Conference! (Kirsha Trychta)

June 27, 2017 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Meetings, Miscellany, Professionalism | Permalink | Comments (0)