Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Icebreakers in the Classroom

Do you ever wonder whether your icebreakers at the beginning of the course or a training session are helpful or a waste of time? Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga) recently posted a blog entry on the Institute for Law Teaching and Learning web pages with hints on successful use of icebreakers: Icebreakers in Law School: Juvenile or Helpful?

September 11, 2016 in Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

ABA Journal Articles "Bar Fight" and "Accreditation Question"

If your copy of the September 2016 ABA Journal has landed in your mailbox, you may want to turn to pages 48-55 to read the article by Mark Hansen entitled "Bar Fight." The online article appears here.

In the same issue, you will find on page 67 a brief article written by Stephanie Francis Ward about the ABA's problems with the Department of Education. The online article appears here

In an article found in Inside Higher Education, an update on UNT and Ave Maria and accreditation is found here.

September 10, 2016 in Bar Exam Issues, Miscellany, News | Permalink | Comments (0)

Associate/Assistant Director Position at UC Irvine

Recruitment Period

Open date: July 13th, 2016
Last review date: August 15th, 2016
Applications received after this date will be reviewed by the search committee if the position has not yet been filled.
Final date: October 31st, 2016
Applications will continue to be accepted until this date, but those received after the review date will only be considered if the position has not yet been filled.

Description

The University of California, Irvine School of Law invites applications for the position of Assistant/Associate Director in 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.

The Assistant/Associate Director will promote the academic success of students at the Law School.
In collaboration with the Director of Academic Skills and the Academic Skills Program team, the Assistant/Associate Director will have the opportunity to:
• Develop curriculum for and teach third-year/post-graduation bar preparation programs;
• Develop curriculum for and teach first-year Academic Skills “Labs” and integrated exercises in doctrinal subjects;
• Develop workshop content and teach workshops for matriculating first-year students;
• Assist in developing curriculum and teaching second-year programs focusing on legal analysis and legal writing skills;
• Provide individual and small-group feedback on student practice exams and exercises;
• Manage department databases (e.g., internal shared drive, TWEN), create and administer student surveys to assess programming, create marketing materials, and coordinate with administrative assistants on logistics for department programs;
• Assist with hiring, training, and supervising student fellows to help administer various first-year student programs;
• Engage in professional development through collaborating with Academic Skills professionals at the local, regional, and national levels to present educational and innovative programs; and
• Assist in planning and managing the budget for first-year programs, student fellows, and books/materials purchases.

The UC Irvine School of Law's inaugural class graduated in the Spring of 2011. The School projects total enrollment of approximately 350 students across all three classes in 2016-17. At full size, the School anticipates an annual enrollment of 600 students. With the School still in its growth stage, the Assistant/Associate Director of Academic Skills will have a rare opportunity to contribute to the design, development, and implementation of the Academic Skills Program. It is therefore expected that the successful candidate will examine and add to existing programs with the same spirit of innovation that characterizes the School. The successful candidate will be expected to exercise independence and judgment, drawing on past experience and careful analysis of the Law School’s particular needs.

UC Irvine School of Law seeks to create the ideal law school for the 21st century by doing the best job of training lawyers for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession. UCI Law is an innovative and visionary law school focused on educating talented and passionate lawyers driven by professional excellence, intellectual rigor, and a commitment to enrich our communities through public service. The law school is a collegial, supportive, and friendly environment and our faculty is comprised of accomplished, nationally-ranked thought leaders from around the country with a broad range of expertise. Recruited from prestigious schools, the faculty ranked sixth in the country in scholarly impact in a recent study. The student body has admissions qualifications comparable to those of student bodies at top 20 law schools. The school's innovative curriculum stresses hands-on learning, interdisciplinary study, and public service.

Since 1965, the University of California, Irvine has combined the strengths of a major research university with the bounty of an incomparable Southern California location. Consistently ranked among the nation's best universities - public and private - UCI excels in a broad range of fields, garnering national recognition for many schools, departments and programs. With more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system.

Please visit the following link to apply for this position:
https://recruit.ap.uci.edu/apply/JPF03611

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, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy. A recipient of an NSF ADVANCE award for gender equity, UCI is responsive to the needs of dual career couples, supports work-life balance through an array of family-friendly policies, and is dedicated to broadening participation in higher education.

Job location

Irvine, CA

Requirements

Documents

  • Curriculum Vitae - Your most recently updated C.V.

  • Cover Letter

  • Statement of Research (Optional)

  • Statement of Teaching (Optional)

  • Statement of Contributions to Diversity - Statement addressing how past and/or potential contributions to diversity will advance UCI's Commitment to Inclusive Excellence.

  • Misc / Additional - Relevant publications or writing samples

References

3-5 references required (contact information only)

How to apply

  1. Create an ApplicantID
  2. Provide required information and documents
  3. If any, provide required reference information

September 10, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 9, 2016

Student Evaluations and Academic Success

For my programs and the programs involving my tutors, I always hand out student surveys at the end.  I imagine everyone does this.  Usually, it's a nice lift to the spirits, with comments like "you rock!" or something funny like "more candy!"  However, there are sometimes a few negative comments, and those negative comments always seem to revolve around the bedrock, yet admittedly boring topics of time management, note-taking, and case reading.  These comments tend to say something along the lines of "we already know how to manage time!" or "we already know how to take notes!"  I'm sure some of the students do know how to do these things (I hope so, anyway), but plenty of them do not, and plenty of them are going to be hurt by not knowing how to do them.  Consequently, these comments don't end up being particularly useful.

However, I've been wondering if the real value in these types of student comments is not in evaluating my program, but in evaluating the students making them.

Since I am a one-person shop, I try to target my efforts at the students who are most in need of my services.  At the beginning of the school year, I don't have a lot of information regarding which students may struggle.  For the first semester at least, I depend on professor and tutor referrals and students voluntarily coming in for help.

From my experience, the top students attend everything, take advice, and never give negative comments, even if a topic is clearly something they've already mastered and even if they are probably bored silly.  A lot of times, I'll look out at one of my voluntary lectures and see a wall of top students sitting in the front row, when they're not the ones I'm worried about at all.

We just did evaluations of the Orientation program, and the few complaints were about presentations on time management, note-taking, and reading and were the exact same "we already know how to do this!"  That being said, I've already had several students come in asking for help in these areas.  But I've been wondering about the ones that complained.  Because the evaluations are anonymous, I do not know who they are, but will they be the ones in the bottom of the class?  Will I be reaching out to them in the spring after a disastrous fall?  

(Alex Ruskell)

September 9, 2016 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Creating Study Tools: It's Not Too Early to Organize (or Outline) Your Thoughts!

First Year Law Students: 

It's not too early (or too late) to start creating your own personal handy-dandy study tools.  But, you ask, how?  

Well, here's a suggestion for creating your study tools from scratch in just 6 easy steps!

But first, let's lay the groundwork.  

Why should I create a study tool especially with so many other tasks at hand that demand my attention in law school?  

There are at least two reasons.

First, the process of creating your own study tool creates a sort of "mental harness" for your thoughts.  It serves to bring you back to the big picture of what you have been studying the past few weeks or so.  And, that's important because your final exams are going to ask you to ponder through and problem-solve hypothetical legal problems based on the readings, conversations, and your own post-class thoughts that you can bring to bear on the subject.

Second, the process of creating your own study tool develops your abilities to synthesize, analogize, and solve problems….skills that YOU will be demonstrating on your final exams (and in your future practice of law too).  In essence, your study tools are an organized collection of pre-written, organized answers in preparation for tackling the hypothetical problems that your professor might ask on your final exam.

So, let's set out the 6 steps:

1.  Grab Your Personal Study Tool Kit Support Team!  

That means surrounding yourself with your casebook, your class syllabus, and your class notes.  They are your "team members" to work with you to help you create your own personal study tool.  Here's a tip:  Pay particular attention to the topics in the table of contents and your syllabus.  The casebook authors and your professors are giving you an organizational tool that you can use to build your own study tool.  And, in a pinch, which I have often found myself in, I make a copy of the table of contents, blow it up a bit, and then annotate it with the steps below.  Voila!

2.  Create the Big Picture Skeleton for Your Study Tool!  

That's right.  It might look like a skeleton.  Not pretty at all.  That's okay.  Remember, it's in the process of creating your study tool that leads to learning.  So, relax and enjoy the mess.  My outlines were always, well, miserable, at least from the point of view of others.  But, because I created them, they were just perfect for my own personal use.  Here's a tip:  Use the table of contents and class syllabus to insert the big picture topics and sub-topics into your study tool.

3.  Insert the Rules!  

Be bold.  Be daring. Be adventuresome.  If you see something that looks like a rule, whether from a statute or from a common law principle, for example, such as "all contracts require an offer, acceptance, and consideration," just put it into your study tool.  Bravo!

4.  Break-up the Rules into Elements (i.e., Sections).  

Most rules have multiple-parts.  So, for example, using the rule stated above for the three requirements to create a contract, there are three (3) requirements!  (1) Offer; (2) Acceptance; and, (3) Consideration.  Over the course of the term, you will have read plenty of cases about each of those three requirements, so give the requirements "breathing room" by giving each requirement its own "holding" place in your study tool or outlines.

5.  Insert Case Blurbs, Hypos, and Public Policy Reasons!  

Within each section for a legal element or requirement, make a brief insertion of the cases, then next the hypothetical problems that were posed in your classes, and finally, any public policy reasons that might support (or defeat) the purpose of the legal element or requirement.  Here's a tip:  A "case blurb" is just that…a quick blurb containing a brief phrase about the material facts (to help you recall the case) and a short sentence or two that summarizes that holding (decision) of the court and it's rationale or motive in reaching that decision.  Try to use the word "because" in your case blurb…because….that forces you to get to the heart of the principle behind that particular case that you are inserting into your study tool.

6.  Take Your Study Tool for a Test Flight!  

Yes, you might crash.  Yes, it might be ugly.  In fact, if you are like me, you will crash and it will be ugly!  But, just grab hold of some old hypothetical problems or final exam questions and - this is important - see if you can outline and write out a sample answer using your study tool.  Then, just refine your study tool based on what your learned by using your study tool to test fly another old practice exam question or two.  Not sure where to find practice problems.  Well, first check with your professor and library for copies of old final exams.  Second, check out this site containing old bar exam questions organized by subject matter:  http://www.law.du.edu/index.php/barprep/resources/colorado-exam-essays

Finally, let me make set the record straight.  You don't have to make an outline.  Your study tool can be an outline…or a flowchart…or a set of flashcards.  What's important is that it is YOUR study tool that YOU built from YOUR own handiwork and thoughts!  It's got to be personal to you because it's going to be you that sits for your final exams.  In short, people don't do well on exams because of what they did on exam day.  Rather, people do well on exams because of what they did in preparation for exams!  Still unsure of yourself?  I sure was in law school.  So, have at it with my own personal example of a study tool (using a visual mind map) that I created on a family law topic concerning when a court can permit a parent to move to another state with a child.

(Scott Johns)

 

   Family Law Outline


 

 

September 8, 2016 in Advice, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Locate and Visit Key Resources at Your Law School

As a prospective student and a 1L, you probably toured your law school facility. Key offices and resources were pointed out but you may not recall all of these resources nor where they are located. You likely know where your classes, the bathrooms, the financial aid office, and the various student organizations are located. Do you know where the key offices for academic and personal support are located? You might but have you made contact with someone in those key offices so that when you need help you are more likely to step into these offices? 

Every school is different but generally there is an office that falls under one or more of these categories: Academic Support/Success, Doctrinal Teaching Assistant/Tutor office or meeting area, Research and Writing Tutor/Teaching Assistant office or meeting area, Student Affairs office, Diversity office, and/or Counseling services. Stop by and introduce yourself, even if you are an upper level student, early on in the semester, you still have time. Allow yourself to become comfortable with the individuals in these offices as they might be able to help you navigate academic and non-academic challenges as they arise. You will feel comfortable and individuals in these offices might remember you if you took the time to visit. 

Ensure that you take advantage of all programs, workshops, small group sessions or teaching assistant sessions offered. Typically, no question is a dumb question for individuals who work in these offices; unless they tell you otherwise. Their role typically includes providing you with support throughout your law school journey because they have an interest in your success as a student. At the very least if you are into Pokémon, you might find a Pokémon or two lurking near these offices, so I have heard. (Goldie Pritchard)

September 7, 2016 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

UNLV Position

Assistant Professor in Residence, Director of the Academic Success Program [17020]

Location:
Las Vegas, NV
 
Category:
Faculty - Law and Legal Studies
 
Posted:
08/23/2016
 
Application Due:
Open Until Filled
 
Type:
Full Time
 
Announcement Number:
17020
Logo

POSITION TITLE
The William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas invites applications for Assistant Professor in Residence, Director of the Academic Success Program, Search Number 17020

PROFILE of the UNIVERSITY
UNLV is a doctoral-degree-granting institution of approximately 29,000 students and more than 3,000 faculty and staff that is classified by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching as a research university with high research activity. UNLV offers a broad range of respected academic programs and is on a path to join the top tier of national public research universities. The university is committed to recruiting and retaining top students and faculty, educating the region's diversifying population and workforce, driving economic activity through increased research and community partnerships, and creating an academic health center for Southern Nevada that includes the launch of a new UNLV School of Medicine. UNLV is located on a 332-acre main campus and two satellite campuses in Southern Nevada. For more information, visit us on line at: http://www.unlv.edu

ROLE of the POSITION
The Director is responsible for all Academic Success Program (ASP) programming and initiatives in support of Boyd's 400 full-time, part-time day, and part-time evening students. The Director works closely with law faculty and administration to develop and implement programs to support student achievement in law school and to help students pass the bar exam and succeed in their professional lives. The Director interacts with students in formal and informal classes, conducting workshops and outreach on essential law school skills and bar exam preparation, and meets individually with students seeking to improve their academic performance and to develop strategies for bar exam study and success. The Director is expected to identify students who are likely to benefit from ASP resources and encourage their participation in ASP programming. The Director plays a prominent role in new student orientation, introducing students to legal reasoning and analysis, task and time management, and the services provided by ASP.

The Director is expected to be familiar with national bar exam standards and trends in bar exam assessment. He or she serves as the law school's authority on the Nevada bar examination, its content, and trends in that content. He or she works directly with students individually and in groups on bar preparation and with the law school faculty and administration on analysis of bar examination results and strategies for maximizing bar passage for Boyd graduates.

The Director supervises an Assistant Director and upper-class student mentors and directs their deployment in meeting ASP objectives. The faculty expects that the Director will be a resource for its members to increase teaching effectiveness. Given the nature of the position's responsibilities and the composition of the student body, the Director will be required to work evening and weekend hours as necessary.

The Boyd School of Law, the only law school in Nevada, is a diverse community of faculty, students, and staff who work together collegially and respectfully to maximize the potential of its students and to help the law school fulfill its aspirations. We welcome applications from those who wish to participate in this sort of community, and we strongly encourage women and people of color to apply. For more information on the Boyd School of Law, see our website www.law.unlv.edu. Please contact Associate Dean Frank D. Durand at (702) 895-1240 if you have questions about the position.

QUALIFICATIONS
A J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school is required, together with membership in a state bar and successful completion of a state bar examination. The successful candidate will have significant law school professional experience, preferably in the context of a law school academic success program, a record of strong academic performance in law school, and experience in teaching or instruction. Also required are excellent project management skills, strong organizational skills with attention to detail, the ability to carry out responsibilities with a minimum of supervision, excellent oral and written communication and interpersonal skills, and a strong service commitment.

SALARY RANGE
Salary competitive with those at similarly situated institutions. Position is contingent upon funding.

APPLICATION DETAILS
Submit a letter of interest, a detailed resume listing qualifications and experience, and the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three professional references who may be contacted. Applicants should fully describe their qualifications and experience, with specific reference to each of the minimum and preferred qualifications because this is the information on which the initial review of materials will be based.

Although this position will remain open until filled, review of candidates' materials will begin on October 1, 2016 and best consideration will be gained for materials submitted prior to that date. Materials should be addressed to Associate Dean Frank D. Durand, Search Committee Chair, and are to be submitted via on-line application at https://hrsearch.unlv.edu. For assistance with UNLV's on-line applicant portal, contact UNLV Employment Services at (702) 895-3504 or applicant.inquiry@unlv.edu.

 

Application Information

Contact:
Employment Services
Human Resources
University of Nevada Las Vegas
 
Phone:
702-895-3504
 
Online App. Form:
 
UNLV is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action educator and employer committed to achieving excellence through diversity. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to, among other things, race, color, religion, sex, age, creed, national origin, veteran status, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, or any other factor protected by anti-discrimination laws. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas employs only United States citizens and non-citizens lawfully authorized to work in the United States. Women, under-represented groups, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply.

September 6, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Reminder: September 12th Deadline for WCCASP Program Proposals

WEST COAST CONSORTIUM
OF ACADEMIC SUPPORT PROFESSIONALS


Fifth Annual Conference: Preparing Our Students for What’s Next
McGeorge School of Law, Sacramento, CA
Saturday, November 5, 2016


CALL FOR PROPOSALS


Academic support staff and faculty from anywhere in the country (as well as “ASP ally” faculty
and staff) are welcome and encouraged to submit proposals for presentations addressing the
conference theme of Preparing Our Students for What’s Next. Presentation topics may include:
- Novel ways to introduce incoming first-year students to the rigors of law school;
- Incorporating experiential exercises into programs;
- Successfully pairing students with upper-division student and alumni mentors;
- Helping students form effective professional identities;
- Supporting students’ well-being to better enable them to handle the stresses of law
school, the bar exam, and practice;
- Adapting to new ABA requirements, evolving entering class preparedness levels, or
changes to bar exam format;
- Exciting ways to motivate students to prepare successfully for the bar during law school,
after graduation, or both;
- Or other ideas!
Please send your proposal to clee1@pacific.edu (be sure to add the “1”), and include:
- Presenter Contact Information: name, title, school, email, phone
- Presentation Description (up to 400 words) and summary blurb (up to 150 words)
- Presentation Time: Most presentations will be scheduled in 45-minute blocks, but we
will do our best to accommodate reasonable requests for different time spans.
- Requested Equipment: Internet connection, projection for PowerPoint, etc.


Please submit your proposal by no later than Monday, September 12.

 

September 6, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Above the Law Post on February Bar Changes

A hot topic on the ASP listserv has been the NCBE change in the number of scored questions (175 instead of 190 out of 200) starting with the February MBE. Hat tip to Russell McClain (Maryland) for notice of the Above the Law column: Big Changes Coming.

September 6, 2016 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation | Permalink | Comments (0)

AALS Balance Section's October Topic Call

The AALS Balance Section’s next topic call features Alli Gerkman, Director of Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, speaking about  ETL’s ground-breaking report on the foundations that are necessary for new attorneys.  The report - based on 24k+ respondents from 37 states and over 70 practice areas - shows that new lawyers are successful when they have a broad blend of legal skills, professional competencies, and most importantly, characteristics that comprise the "whole lawyer."  Here are the details of our call.

What:

AALS Balance Section Topic Call

Foundations for Practice: the Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient Presented by Alli Gerkman, Director, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers

When:

October 6, 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time

Where:

Call (712) 432-0850, access code 422626#

Reading:

Foundations for Practice: the Whole Lawyer and the Character Quotient Report

Format:

Our speaker Alli Gerkman will provide a brief overview of the report and how the findings were used in the summer session and orientation at Sturm College of Law.  The call will then focus on the participants' comments, reactions, and questions, along the following topics:

  • Is your school in some way implementing the findings of Foundations for Practice into the school learning outcomes or a course/program?
  • What suggestions do you have for a toolkit of resources that Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers is developing to help use the Foundations for Practice in law school curricula/programs?
  • Other comments, reactions, and questions welcome!

 

September 6, 2016 in Meetings, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Three Positions at Mitchell Hamline

Title: Dean, Academic Excellence

Status: Faculty Position

The Dean of Academic Excellence will work closely with the President and Dean, Associate Deans, Dean of Students, and faculty to provide a vision for and build a premier academic support program that reaches students in all four of its programs. The Dean of Academic Excellence will be responsible for all aspects of the Academic Excellence Program, which currently includes pre-orientation programming, skills workshops, student-led study groups, credit-bearing classes, bar preparation, and individual tutoring. The Dean of Academic Excellence will have primary responsibility for managing the budget of the Academic Excellence program and will inspire and manage a growing staff. He or she will also be responsible for analyzing bar pass data and for evaluating empirically the success of various bar initiatives. The successful applicant will have a strong academic record and be committed to outstanding teaching, scholarship, and service. The applicant will have a demonstrated commitment to inclusive excellence, and a proven ability to work collaborative with students, faculty, and staff to promote the academic achievement of every student.

Qualifications: J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school; record of academic and extracurricular success in law school; minimum of 5 years of teaching or law practice experience; ability to think imaginatively and critically about how to measurably improve law students’ academic development and to design and implement programs to promote that development; ability to work collaboratively with a diverse population of students, faculty and administrators, including students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in law schools; ability to successfully manage competing priorities and meet firm deadlines; ability and initiative to forge partnerships with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the surrounding legal community; experience with online education; knowledge of and interest in recent changes in legal pedagogy and the legal profession; ability to understand and work with data to effectively evaluate the school’s programming. Prior teaching experience in an academic success or legal writing or prior leadership experience in an academic setting is preferred.

To apply please send cover letter and resume, salary requirements and three professional references by e-mail to hr@mitchellhamline.edu; by fax to 651-290-8645; or by mail to Human Resources, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105.

Members of under-represented groups are encouraged to apply. AA/EOE.

Priority will be given to applications received by September 16, 2016.

 

Title: Assistant Directors of Academic Excellence

Status: Two (2) Full Time positions

The Assistant Directors of Academic Excellence will be responsible for developing and teaching courses in the Academic Excellence Program that build analytical skills and prepare students to pass the bar examination. These duties may include teaching courses in the on-campus programs and assisting in the development and implementation of online academic excellence programming to reach students in the school’s Hybrid online and other part-time programs. The successful candidate will have a track record of inspiring success with academically at-risk students, proven ability to work collaboratively with others, and a commitment to providing outstanding services in a challenging atmosphere.

Qualifications: JD from an ABA-accredited law school; record of academic and extracurricular success in law school; minimum of 3 years of law practice or other relevant experience; ability to implement programs to promote development of every student; ability to work collaboratively with a diverse population of students, faculty and administrators, including students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in law schools; ability to manage multiple competing priorities and meet firm deadlines successfully. Prior teaching experience in academic support or legal writing and previous experience in providing instruction in an online format preferred.

To apply please send cover letter and resume, salary requirements and three professional references by e-mail to hr@mitchellhamline.edu; by fax to (651) 290-8645; or by mail to Human Resources, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 875 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105.

Members of under-represented groups are encouraged to apply. AA/EOE.

September 5, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Happy Labor Day

Best wishes to all of our colleagues and students as everyone enjoys a holiday from classes. How nice that it comes within a couple of weeks of the beginning of school so everyone can recharge a bit after a fast start-up! Say a fond farewell to summer and embrace the new semester wholeheartedly.

September 5, 2016 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Congratulations to Scott Johns

TexasBarToday_TopTen_Badge_Small (002)

Congratulations to Scott Johns! He was a awarded a Top Ten Badge by the Texas State Bar's Texas Bar Today for his August 25th posting Alone . . . or Perhaps . . . Not Quite So Alone as 1L Students?

September 4, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 3, 2016

New Director of the Critical Skills Program at Nova Southeastern

Sara Berman

 

Congratulations to Sara Berman on her new position at Nova Southeastern!

Sara Berman has been named the new Director of the Critical Skills Program at Nova Southeastern University in South Florida.  Many of us know Sara as a long time member of the ASP and bar prep community in California, most recently as the Assistant Dean of Academic Support and Bar Support at Whittier Law School in Orange County.  Previously she was at Concord Law School and UWLA, both in Los Angeles.  As a brand new graduate of UCLA she began lecturing on the California bar exam on her own and was an early adopter in online legal education.  In addition to law teaching, Berman has lectured for bar reviews for decades and the author of numerous articles as well as the ABA’s Pass the Bar Exam: A Practical Guide to Achieving Academic and Professional Goals and its companion teacher’s manual.  She is very excited to be moving to the Southeast where she will be closer to where her twins are attending college.  

September 3, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

"A Brief Social-Belonging Intervention Improves Academic and Health Outcomes of Minority Students" Say Researchers Walton and Cohen

Big hat tip to Professor Rodney Fong at the University of San Francisco School of Law for his alert to this research article!

It's not too late to make a difference…a real difference…a measurable difference…to improve academic performance and health outcomes for minority students, as demonstrated by the published research findings of Dr. Gregory M. Walton and Dr. Geoffrey L. Cohen at Stanford University in their article "A Brief Social-Belonging Intervention Improves Academic and Health Outcomes of Minority Students."

Here's the scoop:

The researchers surmised that a brief intervention in the first week of undergraduate studies - to directly tackle the issue of belonging in college - might make a measurable impact with respect to academic performance and health outcomes for African-American students.  As background, previous research had suggested that a lack of a sense of belonging was particularly detrimental for success in collegiate studies. In its most basic form, the intervention was threefold.

First, the university shared survey results with research participating students, substanting that most college students "had worried about whether they belonged in college during the difficult first year but [they] grew confident in their belonging with time."  

Second, the participating students were encouraged to internalize the survey messages by writing an essay to describe "how their own experiences in college [in the first week] echoed the experiences summarized in the survey."  

Third, the participating students created videos of their written essays for the express purpose of sharing their feelings with future generations of incoming students, so that participating students would not feel like they were stigmatized by the intervention (but rather that they were beneficially involved in making the collegiate world better for future generations of incoming students).  

According to the researchers, surveys in the week following the intervention suggested that participating students sensed that the intervention buttressed their abilities to overcome adversities and enhanced their achievement of a sense of belonging.  And, the impact was long-lasting, even when participating students couldn't recall much at all about the intervention.  

The researches then used the statistical method of multiple regression to control for various other possible influences and to test for the impact of race.  As revealed in the research article, the intervention was particularly beneficial for African-American students in terms of both improvements in GPA and improvements in well-being.  In short, a brief intervention led to demonstrable benefits.

That brings us back to us ASPers!  

With the start of the school year for ASPers, we have a wonderful opportunity to engage in meaningful interventions...by sharing the great news about social belonging.  But, there's more involved than just sharing the news.  Based on the research findings, to make a real difference for our students, our students must not see themselves - in the words of the Stanford researchers - as just "beneficiaries" of the intervention...but rather as "benefactors" of the intervention.  

In short, our entering students must be empowered with tools to share with future generations what they learned about adversity, belonging, and overcoming…and how to thrive in law school.  

Wow!  What a spectacular opportunity…and a challenge…for all of us! (Scott Johns).

P.S. Here's the abstract to provide you with a precise overview of the research findings:  "A brief intervention aimed at buttressing college freshmen’s sense of social belonging in school was tested in a randomized controlled trial (N = 92), and its academic and health-related consequences over 3 years are reported. The intervention aimed to lessen psychological perceptions of threat on campus by framing social adversity as common and transient. It used subtle attitude-change strategies to lead participants to self-generate the intervention message. The intervention was expected to be particularly beneficial to African-American students (N = 49), a stereotyped and socially marginalized group in academics, and less so to European-American students (N = 43). Consistent with these expectations, over the 3-year observation period the intervention raised African Americans’ grade-point average (GPA) relative to multiple control groups and halved the minority achievement gap. This performance boost was mediated by the effect of the intervention on subjective construal: It prevented students from seeing adversity on campus as an indictment of their belonging. Additionally, the intervention improved African Americans’ self-reported health and well-being and reduced their reported number of doctor visits 3 years postintervention. Senior-year surveys indicated no awareness among participants of the intervention’s impact. The results suggest that social belonging is a psychological lever where targeted intervention can have broad consequences that lessen inequalities in achievement and health."  Gregory M. Walton, et al, Science Magazine, 18 Mar 2011: Vol. 331, Issue 6023, pp. 1447-1451  

September 1, 2016 in Advice, Diversity Issues, Encouragement & Inspiration, Professionalism, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Be Teachable

Last week marked the arrival of all of our first year law students for a week of orientation. There were fun activities, a series of welcomes, some serious academic activities, and a lot of new information to absorb. Our Academic Success Program is involved in various aspects of orientation but I also like to hear what some of my colleagues have to say to the students. One statement by our Associate Dean of Student Engagement caught my attention.  He said to the 1Ls: “Make sure that you are teachable” and then he went on to make his various remarks.  This is great advice that encourages students to be open to the information that is presented and open to learning. Ego often gets in the way of being teachable and so does competition. We do not always recognize our resistance to learning and sometimes that resistance is detrimental. Merriam-Webster defines “teachable” as “able and willing to learn, capable of being taught.”  We should all be willing to learn and in turn be capable of being taught.

I think that being teachable should be paired with being open to constructive criticism and getting comfortable with being vulnerable. Law students typically receive very limited feedback and one exam at the end of the semester determines their performance in individual courses. A legal writing course is usually the course in which students receive more regular feedback because they have regular assignments with hard deadlines. I encourage students to take the feedback that they receive, determine what changes they need to make, and make those changes.  I encourage them not to take constructive criticism as an affront on their intelligence or ability to be a successful law student.  They should look at criticism as an opportunity to learn, develop a skill, and become a better student and lawyer. I know that it is easier said than done.  Even for individuals who are accustom to managing criticism, receiving criticism in law school can be a challenge at first.  It might be helpful for students to put themselves in situations where they have to manage scrutiny or constructive criticism regularly.  Maybe develop public speaking skills, audition for a play, write and have their writing critiqued, or engage in any activity they feel uncomfortable engaging in but that includes an element of critique.  Participating in any of these activities might put students under enough scrutiny and encourage them to determine how to best manage extensive critique.  The added benefit is that hopefully these experiences empower students to seek out feedback and be more receptive of constructive criticism as a law student. (Goldie Pritchard)

August 31, 2016 in Advice, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Registration Deadline Extended to September 6th for Texas A&M Writing Scholars Colloquium

Although named the “Texas Academic Support and Legal Writing Scholars Colloquium," this gathering is open to legal writing and academic support faculty/instructors from anywhere to present works-in-progress across all disciplines within the law, doctrinal or pedagogical.  Academic Support and Legal Writing faculty have complicated time commitments in our jobs, so we would like to create a forum to discuss our scholarship in light of our responsibilities that are somewhat different from other faculty members.  The works presented can be in the very early stages to elicit comments for fully developing the project, to more complete articles for honing before publication.  You can also participate without presenting if you like, to discuss your ideas informally with like-minded colleagues during the breaks in the program.

Depending on the response, we will make every effort to create panels that share some common attributes. We would like to be able to distribute drafts, or even outlines of works in progress to the other members of the panel if possible. 

The colloquium will be all day on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, TX.  There is no fee to participate, but registration is required so that we may plan our panels, plan for lunch and other logistic needs.  

To register for the colloquium, email DeShun Harris at dharris@tamu.edu by Tuesday, September 6, 2016. In the email, please include the title of your presentation topic (if you have one), your school name, previous publications/presentations, and your title.  Please also let us know of any food or other accommodations that we can make to enhance your visit.  Additionally, please note whether you will be attending the September 22, 2016 evening reception. Presenters are encouraged to submit a summary or draft paper two weeks prior to the colloquium (September 9) to ensure adequate time for review by panel members.

August 30, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Director of Academic Support and Bar Passage at Washburn

WASHBURN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW invites applicants for the faculty position as Director of Academic Support and Bar Passage. The position may be tenured, tenure-track or non-tenure track, depending on the candidate’s qualifications and interest. The commencement date for the position is the 2017-18 academic year.   The Director will design a comprehensive academic support program for law students, supervise other academic support professionals, teach in the academic support program, and direct the provision of a full range of academic support services. The successful candidate will have taught in a student success program, will be experienced in developing or teaching in bar exam support programs, and will have the ability to report on assessments and outcomes.

The Washburn campus is located in the heart of Topeka, Kansas, blocks from the state capitol.  Recently, the Topeka and Shawnee County Library was named the 2016 Library of the Year, the highest honor for libraries in the U.S. and Canada.  Topeka has previously been named a Top Ten City in Kiplinger’s magazine.  Topeka features affordable housing and beautiful, historic neighborhoods filled with well-maintained parks.  It is also the home of the Brown v. Board of Education historical site.

Washburn Law School is committed to diversity in its faculty and encourages applicants whose backgrounds will enrich the law school. Candidates should possess a JD degree from an ABA accredited law school; a distinguished academic record; record of, or demonstrated potential for, scholarly production; and a strong commitment to academic support.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.  (All faculty appointments are contingent upon funding.)  Interested candidates should send a resume, listing three references, and a cover letter.  Contact: Professor Janet Thompson Jackson, Chair, Faculty Recruitment Committee, Washburn University School of Law, 1700 College Avenue, Topeka, Kansas, 66621.  E-mail: janet.jackson@washburn.edu.

August 30, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

More on Trigger Warnings

The discussion of trigger warnings has continued in recent issues of The Chronicle of Higher Education because of recent events at the University of Chicago. This past week The Chronicle published a guide to trigger warnings that summarizes what has been going on at colleges and universities on this issue. The link is here: A Brief Guide to the Battle Over Trigger Warnings.

August 30, 2016 in Miscellany, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Study on Cold-Calling Undergraduates - Revisting the Law School Socratic Method

In The Chronicle of Higher Education, a recent article talked about a study that found cold-calling on undergraduate students increased the students' voluntary participation over the semester. The article referenced that like any other skill, students need practice - practice in the skill of class participation. The link to the article is here: Why Cold-Calling on Students Works. (Of course, the article also made a negative reference to the law school use of cold-calling and included a link to the well-known clip from Paperchase in which Kingsfield terrorizes Hart.) 

For a more positive look at law school Socratic Method, see my post here: Turning the Socratic Method into a Positive Experience. (Amy Jarmon)

August 29, 2016 in Stress & Anxiety, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)