Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Schools around the country have entered the exam zone. For the next 2-3 weeks campus are overrun with students walking shuffling around in clothing that has seen better days. They will be unkempt and a bit unclean. They will stay up all hours of the night, chugging energy drinks to keep going. All in the name of studying. This is what it takes to get an A. I say it is time for change. Don’t just follow the crowd. Be your own person and do your own thing: take a shower, go to bed at a decent hour, and still get an A. This is possible if you follow one simple rule: treat studying like a job. You don’t have to wear a suit but would it be so bad to wear clean clothes and not smell like stale sweat? I know it’s a radical concept but it’s worth considering.
First, make a schedule. Create a weekly and daily calendar where you plan out what you want to accomplish that day and that plan should be more than just, “study.” Break an overwhelming task into smaller, more specific chunks: complete 1/3 of outline, review notes for 15 minutes, answer and review one practice question. You also need to schedule time for life. Make an appointment with yourself to do laundry, make dinner, talk to mom. Scheduling these activities means you are more likely to do them. Being able to keep up with day to day tasks will make you feel better and more accomplished.
Second, protect your study time. Just because you spend 12 hours in the library doesn’t mean you actually studied 12 hours. The first step is the hardest but most important- go off the grid. Turn off the phone. Not on silent. Not on airplane mode. Turn. It. Off. It’s ok if you need to take baby steps: start with a 2-hour block without social media and texting. Both are times sucks and every time you go off-task, you lose time (Check out my October 1 post for more on multi-tasking). Devote a solid two hours to studying. You will be amazed at how much work you get done. It’s fine if you want to chat with friends or wander around the library but this is called a “study-break” and you don’t get one of these until you’ve studied.
If the idea of making and following a schedule, and not texting or tweeting for a whole two hours seems a bit daunting, try it out for a day and see how it goes. I doubt you’ll revert back to your old ways. Not only will you do well on your exams but you’ll have clean laundry, too.
Friday, April 24, 2015
When I meet with students to assess exam performance and the topic of multiple choice questions comes up, oftentimes the student says, “I thought I was good at multiple choice but apparently I’m not.” Although I don’t like that the student has given up on himself, I use this as an opportunity to work on multiple choice strategies.
The theme I use for teaching multiple choice is control: you need to stay in control of the question, not the other way around.
The first step is to read with a purpose. Read the call of the question for the expected outcome: “What is P’s best argument?” “If D wins, what is the basis?” “How should the judge rule?” This sets up the framework for the best answer choice. Next, read the fact pattern and identify the central issue. Then recall the relevant rule. Don’t look to the answer choices for help in figuring out the issue or the rule. Three are written to distract you away from this. Only look at the answer choices after you know what you are looking for. The best answer choice will address both the central issue and the correct rule. If the issue raised in the answer doesn’t match the issue raised in the question, it is not the best choice. If the legal basis for each answer choice isn’t relevant or completely correct, then it is not the best answer choice.
Just as writing an essay response is a process, so too is answering a multiple choice question. The difference is that with an essay your response must demonstrate the process and with multiple choice you demonstrate the process by choosing the best answer. Knowing the material is not enough to get a question correct. You have to work through practice questions and master the process in order to get the correct answer. Take the time, practice the process, and stay in control.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
The NY Area Academic Support Workshop took place on April 17th at the New York Law School. As usual for this event, ASP'ers attended from near and far and were not disappointed. Kris Franklin, of NYLS, and Linda Feldman, of Brooklyn Law School put together a full day of presentations.
Linda Feldman lead a discussion on working with students, once they have been identified and placed on Academic Supervision.
Angela Baker and Alison Nissen, presented on the topic of Serving Today's Students.
Martha Hochberger of NYLS gave attendees a new tool via her presentation on Charting the Way to Case Synthesis.
Debra Cohen of the David A. Clarke Law School, spoke of the transition from undergrad to law school via her presentation entitled Unlearning -- the Hardest Part of Law School. Deb's presentation was a preview of her upcoming presentation at the Third Annual AASE Conference.
Coral M. Rivera Torres, of the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico School of Law, spoke on Integrating ASP Strategies for Exam Preparation - through practice and feedback for students.
After a lunch that involved networking and a presentation on bar exam topics by Mike Power of Kaplan, there were additional sessions.
Carmen Morales, of Fordham Law School, reported on the LSAC Diversity and Retention Conference, which was held in Las Vegas on April 8-10. That conference addressed issues faced by under represented minorities in law schools - both as students and faculty members.
Joseph Brennan, of the Charlotte School of Law, spoke on Practicing High Quality Critical Writing in Law School.
Kris Kranklin, of NYLS, lead attendees in a "Questions Only" Negligence Exercise. The exercise was a team affair, and we were given a fact pattern and charged with generating a list of relevant questions. through this exercise, students come to understand what is important when working with a fact pattern.
Myra Orlen, of Western New England University School of Law, presented on the topic of Multitasking in the "New Normal": Managing an Ever-Increasing ASP Load." This topic was addressed after participants had shared many wonderful and effective ways of working with under-performing law students. As usual, participants at the Workshop offered support and good ideas.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
The University of California, Irvine School of Law invites applications for the position of director of the academic skills program. The successful candidate will develop, enhance, and implement a program to assist students in the transition to law school, to promote their successful completion of the J.D. program, and to prepare them to sit for the bar exam.
Application Procedure - All applicants should submit a cover letter describing teaching and research interests, an updated curriculum vitae, and list of 3-5 references using UC Irvine's on-line application system, RECRUIT, located at: https://recruit.ap.uci.edu/JPF02795
The University of California, Irvine is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer advancing inclusive excellence. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.
Monday, April 20, 2015
Texas A&M is hiring an Assistant Director of Academic Support. The person hired will assist in developing and managing of all aspects of the First-Year, Peer Tutoring and Upper-Level Academic Support Program, in conjunction with the Faculty Director and the other Assistant Director of Academic Support. In addition, the Assistant Director contributes to developing and managing the “Preparing for Bar” Course, Bar Mentoring Program, Bar Scholarships, and other Bar Exam preparation materials and services.
Candidates must have a JD, and should have some experience in legal education. Texas A&M University School of Law is located in vibrant downtown Fort Worth. The Fort Worth/Dallas area, with a total population in excess of six million people, offers a low cost of living and a strong economy.
As an Equal Opportunity Employer, Texas A&M University welcomes applications from a broad spectrum of qualified individuals who will enhance the rich diversity of the law school’s academic community. Applicants can apply directly online at: https://jobpath.tamu.edu/postings/82340. Please also send your résumé or cv directly to Professor James McGrath, Professor of Law and Director of Academic Support - email@example.com. Alternatively, résumés can be mailed to Professor McGrath at Texas A&M University School of Law, 1515 Commerce Street, Fort Worth, Texas 76102-6509.
Friday, April 17, 2015
Law school is tough but so is life. Now is the time to develop your toolbox for dealing with stress. You would not use a hammer to cut a piece of wood but you won’t be able to get that nail in if you don’t learn how to use a hammer effectively. The same thing goes for stress. If you don’t develop tools for dealing with stress now, chances are you won’t handle it well later in life. Avoid- you might be able to avoid stress if you plan ahead and take control of your surroundings. Leave 10 minutes early and avoid traffic, study in a quiet area of the library where you won’t be bothered by annoying people, or say no to leading that committee or planning that event. You can say yes to some things, but you don’t have to say yes to everything. Alter- you might not be able to avoid stress but you can change the situation. Manage your time and organize your day so that you stay on task, set limits for yourself whether it’s studying or social media. Cope- if you have no choice but to accept certain things then talk to someone. Your feelings are legitimate so even if the situation can’t change, talking about it will make it less frustrating. Believing that you can’t cope is itself a stressor so changing your expectations is very helpful. You may need to redefine success or adjust your standards, especially if perfection is your goal. Oftentimes something as simple as adopting a mantra (I can do it) can help you work through that feeling of helplessness. Stress is a part of life so what matters is how you deal with it. Start applying techniques now to balance the stressors. With a little practice you’ll not only know what tools you have but how to use them.
Friday, April 10, 2015
It’s almost time for exams which means students across the country will put healthy lifestyles on hold in order to spend more time studying. Yes, studying is important but if you want your brain working at optimal capacity, then feed it right. Junk food isn’t good for your body or your brain. Fuel yourself with food that enhances your brain function, mood, and memory. Instead of reaching for chips, candy, or an energy drink, try one of these brain foods. Broccoli and other dark green leafy vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower. Blueberries and strawberries are effective in improving short term memory. Peanut butter has fat but the good kind- it keeps the heart and brain healthy and functioning properly. Unlike grains like rice and pasta that cause energy levels to peak and crash, leaving your brain exhausted, whole grains provide a steady flow of energy. Dark chocolate in moderation improves blood flow to the brain which improves cognitive function. Not only will your brain thank you but when exams are over you’ll still be able to fit into your clothes.
Monday, April 6, 2015
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Director, Academic Achievement Program
In a surprise move, the National Conference of Bar Examiners has announced that Latin will be tested for the first time on the July 2016 MBE. A couple of representative questions have been released, with correct answers but no explanations:
1. Assiduus usus uni rei detius et ingenium et artem saepe vincit.
A. Sane, paululum linguae latinae dico.
B. Id legi modo hic modo illic.
C. Vero, latine loqui non est difficilissimum.
D. Heu, modo itera omnia quae mihi nunc nuper narravisti, sed nunc anglice.
2. Quidquid excusatio prandium pro.
A. Caveat emptor!
B. Vini vidi vici.
C. Vino veritas.
D. Caveat depascor!
3. Audaces fortuna iuvat.
A. Adversus solem ne loquitor.
B. Disputandi pruritus ecclesiarum scabies.
C. Corpora lente augescent cito extinguuntur.
D. Dura lex sed lex.
I'll be interested in learning how schools and their bar prep programs will react to this new development. I'm sure students will be perfectly fine with it.
Friday, March 27, 2015
CALL FOR CONFERENCE PAPERS AND PRESENTATIONS: "Creating Excellence in Learning and Teaching for Today's Law Students"
October 2-3, 2015, Phoenix, AZ
ABSTRACTS DUE: July 15, 2015
Arizona Summit Law School (ASLS) will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary with a conference for legal educators, law students, the legal community, and anyone interested in legal education. The Conference will be opened by Professor Gerald Hess, a leading American scholar on legal education, and founder of the Institute for Law School Teaching at Gonzaga University School of Law. The Conference will include panels and workshops intended to address an array of challenges facing law schools in the early 21st Century.
TOPICS: Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:
- Applying the latest teaching techniques, methods and technology in the classroom
- Integrating practice-ready skills with doctrinal teaching
- Teaching the underprepared student
- Keeping higher performing students engaged and challenged
- Teaching alternative and second career students
- Preparing students for the new legal marketplace
- Building an excellent academic support program
- Preparing students to serve underserved communities
PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE:
Select papers will be published in the Arizona Summit Law Review, ASLS's flagship publication, or Accord, the internet-based sub-journal of Arizona Summit Law Review. To submit a paper, please send the following information by July 15, 2015:
- Author(s) name, contact information, and school affiliation
- Author(s) CV
- Title of the proposed paper
- A brief description (500 words or less) of the paper
Participants will be notified of their selection by August 15, 2015. Please note that travel assistance is not available.
Please direct all questions and final submissions to the Conference Chair, Dr. Marren Sanders, at ASLSConference@azsummitlaw.edu
PRESENTATION PROPOSAL SUBMISSION PROCEDURE:
The Conference Committee welcomes proposals for 25-minute conference presentations or panel discussions, and anticipates a limited number of 50-minute slots as well. To submit a proposal, please send the following information by July 15, 2015:
- Presenter(s) name, contact information, and school affiliation
- Presenter(s) CV
- Title of the proposed presentation
- A brief (one paragraph) description of the presentation, including a description of the presentation format (lecture with Q&A, interactive, PowerPoint, etc.)
- A two-sentence summary of the presentation for the conference program, if accepted
- Length of presentation
- Technology needs for the presentation
Participants will be notified of their selection by August 15, 2015. Please note that travel assistance is not available.
Please direct all questions and final proposals to the Conference Chair, Dr. Marren Sanders, at ASLSConference@azsummitlaw.edu
MGO - via "The Faculty Lounge"
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
THE AVE MARIA SCHOOL OF LAW IN NAPLES FLORIDA invites applications for an Assistant Professor of Advanced Critical Thinking. The person in this position will teach academic success related courses and provide intensive academic counseling to students. This position requires the ability to identify students’ academic strengths and opportunities and to devise effective instructional approaches and counseling strategies to help students optimize their academic performance. The person in this position will have exceptional teaching and counseling skills, the ability to work effectively as part of a team, sound judgment, the ability to deal with sensitive situations using discretion, and the ability to foster close relationships with students, faculty, and staff.
PRIMARY DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
- Teach the Applied Critical Thinking and Legal Analysis class, a three-credit course designed to optimize students’ academic performance.
- Provide academic counseling to students and participate in efforts to support all students’ law school success.
- Create and deliver academic success presentations and workshops to groups of students.
- Prepare, administer, and provide in-depth feedback on practice exams and actual exams.
- Track students’ performance and maintain records and statistics concerning students’ progress.
- Perform other duties as assigned.
Qualified applicants will possess a J.D. degree from an ABA-accredited law school, bar certification, relevant experience, and a strong dedication to student success. Previous experience teaching, tutoring, or providing academic counseling is a plus. Florida bar membership, practice experience, and a strong interest in the learning sciences are also helpful. Some evening and weekend work required
Please submit a cover letter, resume, and list of at least three professional references to HR@avemarialaw.edu.
Ave Maria School of Law is an Equal Opportunity Employer that values diversity, and strongly encourages applications from persons of diverse backgrounds willing to support the institutional mission.
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
Hat tip to Katherine Silver Kelly for sharing the link to this post on the Summer 2014 bar exam results. This article is a must read for anyone interested in the decline in the MBE scores from the July 2014 bar exam. Deborah Merritt, on the Law School Cafe blog, explains the scoring process of the MBE and shows how the ExamSoft debacle could have caused bar results to suffer in more ways than one.
Friday, March 20, 2015
The New York Times has addressed some of the recent (and not so recent) criticisms regarding the Summer 2014 bar examination results in their article, Bar Exam, the Standard to Become a Lawyer, Comes Under Fire. While this article does not unearth new information for many of us, it does legitimize the problem. Because, as we know, there is a problem. The NCBE essentially has a monopoly on bar licensure. They have moved from releasing a limited amount of data to an almost complete lack of transparency. Without this crucial data there is no accountability, which leads to less confidence in the examination and what it purports to assess. This lack of confidence is highlighted in the Times piece and has been echoed in a similar fashion since the summer results were released.
In order to validate the bar exam as a viable assessment tool, the released score results should be detailed, transparent, and effectively communicated. At this point, it appears that complete transparency is the only way to restore credibility in the bar exam and the work of the NCBE.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
How Do You Solve a Problem Like “Whatever?”
I am a new ASPer; I joined Valparaiso Law School just a few months ago. I was nervous about getting started in a new field. My nerves were not related to lower bass passage numbers; I have faith those numbers will improve in time. I was nervous because I knew I was going to have to wage war with a self-defeating mindset that is too common among current law students.
That particular mindset is summed up in one word: “whatever.” Oftentimes that word is used in the phrase, “whatever happens, happens.” It is a simple phrase with a loaded message. Yes, I agree, whatever happens does indeed happen; very few would people challenge that assertion for its truth. However, “whatever happens, happens” is a terrible mindset during law school, and especially during your bar exam preparation period.
It is clear that many students are entering law school and bar prep already prepared for the possibility of failing. The “whatever” that happens just might be failure, especially if a student is underprepared and lacking basic study skills. As an ASP professional, I push for students to disallow that possibility. I explain to students that I locked myself in my parent’s garage during bar prep and studied to a point that probably would have even made the formidable Paula Franzese unhappy.
I am not saying that we should preach to students, but we should encourage a different mindset. We can’t allow students to think, “whatever happens, happens,” anymore. We have to motivate our students to adopt a mindset to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
As an ASP professional, I meet with students every day who have joined the “whatever happens” mindset, students who are preparing for the negative, whether it is exam failure or bar failure. I am pushing them to embrace the “whatever it takes” mindset. It is easy to just do “whatever.” It requires bravery and discipline to do whatever it takes (to succeed!)
The motivational solution is not to accept “whatever happens, happens,” but to force your desired outcome by doing absolutely whatever it takes to make it happen. Unfortunately, it is not easy to make this concept stick or to present it in a way that is truly memorable.
However, I always like to remind students of the three distinct types of people taking exams. First, is the person who gives it a try, and when they fail, they can say, “Hey, at least I tried.” Second, is the person who gives it their best shot, and when they fail, they can say, “Hey, at least I gave it my best shot.”
Chad Houston, Valparaiso Law ASP
Monday, March 9, 2015
USC Professor Ned Snow has released two Property Law apps you might find helpful for your students:
The first app is called Property Law Made Simple. It provides the black-letter rules of Property, with examples and explanations to illustrate each concept. The app also provides 50 MBE-style practice problems, with detailed explanations for each problem. Perfect for learning, reviewing, or mastering 1L Property. Covers most topics (except future interests). It's available on iTunes and Google Play for$0.99.
The second app is called Future Interests Made Simple. It teaches Estates, Future Interests, and the Rule Against Perpetuities. Many examples and explanations illustrate each estate and interest. This app provides 60 practice problems with detailed explanations. It's available on iTunes and Google Play for $2.99.
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!
Searchin' in the sun for another overload
I hear you singin' in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line
And if it snows that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain
And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line" -- Wichita Lineman, written by Jimmy Webb