Saturday, August 2, 2014
My article is due to go out to law reviews on Friday. I have learned many, many things while writing the article, but the most important lesson learned is about teaching. Specifically, the process of submitting my piece to outside reviewers has given me renewed insight into what our students experience when they receive feedback. I know the research on students and feedback. However, it is completely different to experience getting feedback. If you have been in ASP for a while, you probably haven't received feedback since law school. Getting feedback is very tough. To write something, to spend weeks and months preparing, and then weeks and months writing, is emotionally draining and personally exhausting. You cannot help but feel that your admittedly flawed, incomplete article is a part of yourself. But then you have to let it go out to reviewers. If you are lucky, you will have tough, critical reviewers who are willing to tell you everything that is wrong with the piece, so that you can make it better before the submission process. I have been blessed with some really tough reviewers, and my piece is immeasurably better because they spent hours telling me just what is wrong with my flawed, incomplete article. I am confident that what goes out on Friday morning is no longer flawed or incomplete, but a fully-realized articulation of a problem. And it is better, stronger, and complete because of the feedback I received from outside reviewers.
The process of receiving feedback has reminded me how tough it is on our students. They spend all semester struggling with the material, and then they are judged on their learning just once or twice a semester. They cannot help but feel like they are being personally judged, evaluated, and measured. Part of our job is to help our students see that critical feedback is not meant to measure failures and self-worth, but to show them how to be stronger, better, and smarter. It is a part of the "invisible curriculum" of law schools (to use a Carnegie term) that criticism will produce stronger lawyers. We need to make that visible to students; we need to explain that we give them critical feedback because we believe they can be smarter, stronger, better thinkers and writers.
If you are a long-term ASPer, try writing an article for a law review. It may not help you in your professional evaluations, you may not need it for tenure, but you should do it because it will make you a better teacher. Reading about feedback is not the same as receiving feedback. Write because it will help you understand your students.
Friday, August 1, 2014
Most of you have likely heard about the nationwide ExamSoft malfunction that occurred during the administration of the bar exam this week. If not, as you can imagine, ExamSoft did not perform as expected and many bar exam takers were left with error messages when they tried to upload their bar exams. Above the Law even collected tweets from infuriated bar applicants and compiled them on their blog. Take a look, my favorite is the one referencing the Titanic.
While rational minds realize that this software snafu is not a catastrophic event (since uploading can happen once the system is not being overtaxed), bar applicants are not rational. Applicants who are sitting for the bar exam are at peak performance; but, they are also at the pinnacle of stress. Anything can set them off. Some examples from this week include: the temperature of the room (in WA it was like the icebergs in Titanic); toe tapping from a tablemate; bad breath wafting from a tablemate (yuck); shortened lunch break on MBE day; not being able to take highlighters into the exam; a cluster of sobbing test takers during the MBE day; and (my favorite) a driver’s license accidentally being flushed down the toilet. None of these situations led to permanent bodily harm, but some left scars on test takers psyches.
If you took the bar exam, you can somewhat relate to what these examinees went through this week. However, I find that once there is distance from one’s bar exam experience, an individual is likely to brush off its intensity. Since I feel as if I go through, at least some of, the rigors of this exam twice a year, I do have a soft spot when I hear about anything that may have messed with an applicant’s mojo. As we know, there is a bit of mojo required for bar passage.
Luckily in Washington, bar applicants have a few days to upload their essays and PTs; so, many of my students were not adversely affected by the ExamSoft debacle. However, I will add “Barmageddon” to the numerous other stories that I have accumulated over the years. There is one when the earthquake happened in 2001 (and the examiners called out "keep working" as students climbed under their tables), the one where someone went into labor during the test, and the one where a student threw up on their exam (toe tapping is fine in comparison)… I will share these stories and a few others with my future students so that no matter what happens, they will “keep calm and carry on” when it is turn in the hot seat.
Lisa Bove Young
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer, the top of the live-long year, like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning. The weeks that come before are only a climb from balmy spring, and those that follow a drop to the chill of autumn, but the first week of August is motionless, and hot. It is curiously silent, too, with blank white dawns and glaring noons, and sunsets smeared with too much color. Often at night there is lightning, but it quivers all alone. There is no thunder, no relieving rain. These are strange and breathless days, the dog days, when people are led to do things they are sure to be sorry for after.” ― Natalie Babbitt
To those that have just finished taking the bar exam, I hope you enjoy your first week of summer- the first week of August. I hope that you find your version of a Ferris wheel and pause to enjoy the great summer days. Whether it’s catching up with friends, reading non-law related books, fishing, swimming, lounging by the pool or on the beach. Whatever it may be, I hope you enjoy because you have earned it. You have earned the right to lazy around, sleep endlessly, drink a great bottle of wine, or just play with your dog or cat. Again, whatever it may be, enjoy!. Summer awaits you. It may be the last time where you will have endless time to do whatever you want, which may entail nothing at all. So, enjoy.
For those of you starting law school in the fall, you are at the beginning of this journey. However, the same applies to you. Enjoy all the fun, beauty and richness that is August. (LMV)
There are only a few weeks left before orientation. Students are understandably anxious about what they can do to “get ready” for law school. One thing for students to think about is to take care of all the things they can which would be an inconvenience or a distraction once school starts. Here are some activities to consider:
• Get your oil changed. Make sure you have reliable transportation. Get that bus pass. Have your car in good working condition.
• Get your teeth cleaned. Make sure you are in good health and that your health insurance is in order. Law school literally makes some people sick. Get your check-ups. Fill your prescriptions. Have a supply of a good multivitamin.
• Make sure you have a good study space prepared in your house. Nothing is more distracting than trying to study in the TV room while your spouse and kids are watching America’s Got Talent. Have a place that you can retreat to which is quiet and private. Have a space for your books and study materials.
• Buy a thumb drive that is exclusively dedicated to law school use. Set up files and folders for each class. Calendar a weekly backup. Students have suffered a poor grade in class because of some IT disaster, and had no back up of important paper drafts or assignments.
• Activate your university net id account. Get your email account set up if possible.
• Get your student photo id if possible.
• Make sure your FASFA is in order. Have your finances in order.
• Read a book for pleasure.
• See a movie.
• Take some time to talk to your loved ones about what your life in law school will be like. Negotiate household chores. Stay connected to your family by contributing but have a plan for when you are extra busy with studying or a deadline.
• Read a book about law school study tips and success such as Herb Ramy’s book, Succeeding in Law School.
• Look up your school’s honor code online and read it.
• Buy your school supplies.
• Have lunch with a close friend. Ask them to promise to email or call you every two weeks to check in and see how you are doing once school starts.
• Make sure your laptop is in good shape. If you don’t have one, buy one now and get it set up before school starts. Run the antivirus program. Buy an extra ream of copy paper and printer ink jet cartridge.
• Update your resume.
• Find a mentor.
• Call your Mom.
• Evaluate your distractors and eliminate them now– Facebook is not your friend.
• Meet the librarians in your law library.
• Connect with your classmates.
• Make a plan for self-care. What will be your exercise plan? What are your meal plans? Will you cook for yourself or do you negotiate with your partner about healthy meals?
• Buy your books, if possible.
• Know your learning style. Take the VARK.
• Meet your Academic Support Professional. Introduce yourself. Pledge that you will attend their workshops and visit during office hours.
Hopefully, taking care of some of these items will enable students to get off to the best start possible. (Bonnie Stepleton)
Monday, July 28, 2014
Incoming 1L's are perusing booklists for their first year courses. In these courses, 1L's will set about the task of learning doctrine and learning to "think like lawyers." Should law students also be required to learn grammar?
Many have commented that a significant mumber of incoming law students lack the general writing skills that are necessary to succeed both as law students and as lawyers. If this is true, then should law schools require that law students also learn grammar?
Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, considered that question and has taken on the task of teaching law students grammar. Ann L. Nowack, Director of Touro's Legal Writing Center wrote about the program at Touro in her 2012 article, Tough Love: The Law School that Required Its Students to Learn Good Grammar. The article provides food for thought as the begining of the new academic year approaches.
Friday, July 25, 2014
I have compiled this list for those of you studying for the bar exam and for those of us helping applicants prepare for the bar exam because at this point in bar review, we all need a good laugh! FYI: These are questions that I have received over the last week. Enjoy!
10. Am I allowed to chew tobacco during the bar exam?
9. Am I supposed to register for ExamSoft?
8. I can write my essays in pencil, right?
7. What is hearsay?
6. Are the MBE subjects tested on the MEE?
5. Do I really need to study Commercial Paper?
4. In a worst case scenario on the MBE, which letter should I pick? A, B, C, or D?
3. Do you have suggestions as to the types of food I should avoid the night before the bar exam? Also, you said that I should eat a breakfast of champions on the day of the exam, could you please elaborate?
2. What is the bar exam pass rate?
1. Which subjects are tested on the MBE? (YIKES!)
While some of these questions have clear answers (hearsay is an out of court statement used to prove the truth of the matter asserted), others would require me to have a crystal ball or supernatural powers in order to give an accurate answer. I have no idea whether Commercial Paper will be a subject tested on the Multistate Essay Exam, but I do know that the MBE subjects are tested on the MEE in Uniform Bar Exam Jurisdictions. I also do not want to select the pre-bar menu for my students, but I did give them a few suggestions (protein!). And, no, in WA you cannot use tobacco products in the exam room.
I encourage questions and answer them all (whether they are relevant or not), but I find the timing of a few of these to be startling. Since the bar exam is next week, I would hope that applicants know the subjects that are tested on each section of the exam and know the basic logistical requirements like signing up for ExamSoft ahead of time. These are important elements that I know I have repeated in multiple ways, hundreds of times...
But, this is bar review. It is a fast paced jumble of information with a few exuberant highs and numerous frightening lows, a (haunted) roller coaster ride of sorts. Everyone studying for the bar exam is overwhelmed with the vast amount of material being thrown at them all summer and we are overwhelmed meeting all of their diverse needs. The strangest question is the one that I ask myself twice a year: Why do I love this so much?
Here's to high pass rates and no Commercial Paper question on the Multistate Essay Exam!
Best of luck to all of the Summer 2014 Bar Applicants!
Lisa Bove Young
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
With less than a week until the bar exam, you are tired and just ready for this thing to end. However, you need to stay focused and keep going. You need some motivation, the psychological drive that compels you toward a certain goal. I can tell you to get motivated but this is extrinsic and only somewhat effective. Instead, your motivation must be intrinsic. It must come from within. This means you must attribute your results to factors under your control and believe you have the skill to reach your goal. How in the world are you supposed to this? Make a list of everything you are doing to pass the bar exam and then list the skills it takes to do those things. Now, hang that list up somewhere and look at it every time you have self-doubt. Yes, it sounds corny but trust me, it actually works.
Katherine Silver Kelly
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
I have reached a point where I find myself so short of time to do the tasks I really need to do every day that I am launching an experiment. I will telecommute one morning each week. Is it a good idea? I am not sure. What I do know is that because I have an open door policy, much of what I do every day, I had no idea I would be doing that day. I find myself short of time to read, to reflect, to research, to plan and to prepare. Rather than complete the PowerPoint I plan to use for a workshop at least a week in advance (or even a day in advance for that matter), I find myself doing it late the night before and resenting that I have to do so. I have no one to blame but myself. Hopefully this will help me to get the bigger projects done that do not require any resources from the office. For more great advice on time management check out Amy Jarmon’s excellent book Time and Workplace Management for Lawyers, ABA Publishing 2013. (Bonnie Stepleton)
Monday, July 21, 2014
At the 2014 AASE Conference in Indianapolis, Professor Elizabeth Bloom of the New England School of Law gave a presentation on the use of formative assessment to enable students to become self-regulated learners. In her presentation, Professor Bloom addressed the use of formative assessment in law school classes to enhance student learning.
Both summative and formative assessment are necessary in legal education. Summative assessment provides law schools the opportunity to test whether students have learned the required material. Used while a course is in progress, formative assessment provides faculty the opportunity to adjust instruction and provides students the opportunity to adjust their approach to learning.
Professor Bloom's presentation drew from her work in academic support and her scholarship on teaching and learning. Both her presentation and her scholarship illustrate that both professors and students bear responsibility to make the most of formative assessment to enhance student learning. Law faculty should provide students with meaningful feedback on their work, and students must learn to use that feedback to enhance their learning.
In her presentation, Professor Bloom drew from two pieces of her scholarship. The first article is on "Teaching Law Students to be Self-Regulated Learners." The second, more recent article is on providing "(Trans)formative feedback" to law students. Professor Bloom’s articles provide valuable information as the new academic year approaches.
(Myra G. Orlen)
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Lawyers have to to be careful about court rules, deadlines, and various other instructions throughout their professional lives - the right format for an appellate brief, meeting filing deadlines, etc.
Unfortunately, law students sometimes overlook the importance of following instructions and face unpleasant consequences during law school as a result. Hopefully, learning from their errors during law school will prevent more serious errors later in practice.
Here are some law student mishaps with unread instructions or ignored instructions that I have known about:
- The professor's final exam instructions stated that the students could choose three of the five essay questions to complete and must only answer a total of three questions. A student did not read the instructions and answered all five questions while other classmates spent the time on three questions. The professor stopped grading the five-answer exam paper after the third answer. The student received a failing grade for the course.
- The professor's midterm exam instructions stated that each question should be answered true or false and each answer should then be explained. A student did not read the instructions, answered true or false for each question, and explained none of the answers. The student received a failing grade on the midterm exam.
- The professor's exam instructions listed three steps that students were to complete in answering several scenarios on the exam (instructions handed out the day before the exam and also included on the exam). A student ignored step one for each scenario and lost around 15 points as a result.
- A student ignored multiple legal research and writing format requirements for an assignment and lost 20 points.
- Exam procedures required that students who wanted to request an exam move because of having three exams in two days had to file the request by a certain date. A student failed to request an exam move in time and had to complete the exams as scheduled. The student got a D in the course for the third exam because of being too worn out to focus well during that exam.
- A third-year student was warned that he had used up all of his absences in a required course and would be withdrawn with a grade of F if more classes were missed. The student's explanation did not warrant an exception to the attendance policy. The student missed more classes and was withdrawn from the course with the F grade. The student appealed the grade and was surprised that it was upheld.
Legal work requires attention to details. Missed details can have dire consequences. Thankfully, most of our students pay attention to instructions. (Amy Jarmon)
Friday, July 18, 2014
Call for Papers
AALS Section on Academic Support
January 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
ASP a Roadmap at the Crossroad: How Academic Support Will Meet Today’s Varied Challenges
This year, the Academic Support Program Committee opted to have a call for papers and one speaker will be selected from the call. From isolated academic support efforts to more formalized multifaceted programs, academic support has fundamentally changed itself and legal education over the years. In light of shrinking budgets, disappearing positions, smaller applicant pools, changing profiles of incoming students, and media attacks on legal education, academic support programs face newer and varied challenges. We seek papers highlighting innovative methods, programs, or ideas related to these challenges.
Topics might include, but are not limited to, efficient and effective ways to: collaborate with faculty; manage limited human and financial resources; attract and retain students; provide resources for students with learning and other disabilities; and create programming for diverse populations to address any social isolation and/or bridge any skills deficiencies.
As the deadline for program proposals was April 1, 2014, our list of program proposal speakers will be forthcoming. The selected paper speaker will join those speakers as one of the presenters. There is no formal requirement as to length of the abstract and paper submission. Preference will be given to papers that offer novel scholarly insights on the panel topic. A paper may have already been accepted for publication as long as it will not be published prior to the Annual Meeting. The Section does not have plans to publish the papers, so individual presenters are free to seek their own publishing opportunities.
Papers must include the following information:
1. A title for your paper.
2. An abstract of your paper.
3. A final draft of your paper.
4. The amount of time requested for your presentation. No single presenter should exceed 30 minutes in total. [Deleted statement about shorter presentations because paper speaker should be given at least 30 minutes.]
5. A detailed description of both the substantive content and the techniques to be employed, if any, to engage the audience.
6. Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employother technology.
7. A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, national or regional ASP or writing conferences, or other academic conferences.
8. A list of your published scholarly articles or books within the last three years.
9. Your school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (please include email address and telephone number).
10. Any other information you think will help the Committee appreciate the value your paper presentation will provide.
Please submit your paper by Friday, August 15, 2014 at 5pm to Goldie Pritchard, Michigan State University College of Law, email@example.com. If you have questions, please email Goldie Pritchard or call at 517.432.6881.
The Section on Academic Support Program Committee:
Goldie Pritchard, Chair
Robin Boyle Laisure
ASP Section Chair: Amy Jarmon
St. John’s University School of Law
Director, Academic Support
Tracking Code 217794-951
Title: Director, Academic Support
Department: School of Law
Campus: Queens, New York
St. John’s Law School invites applications for the position of Assistant Dean or Director of Academic Support. St. John’s is committed to attracting and retaining a talented and diverse student body; we admit students who have the potential to succeed in law school and in the legal profession. We are therefore committed to providing support to any of our students who struggle academically.
The Law School already has a robust bar passage program for students at risk of failing the bar. The new Assistant Dean/Director will focus, instead, on academic support in the first, second and (for our evening students) third years of law school. He or she will help students transition into law school and complete the J.D. degree. The Director will work with Professors (especially first-year Professors), Teaching Assistants, and Writing Consultants from the Law School Writing Center to devise and provide individualized help for students at risk as well as broader programs and initiatives that provide academic support to students. We anticipate that the program will evolve, depending on the Director’s vision and skills.
We are looking for an experienced, innovative, self-starter with a strong understanding of the skills students need to succeed in law school. A J.D. is required for this position. A Master’s Degree in Education (or a similar field) and experience working with adult learners are both preferred, but not required.
The position does not carry a faculty rank. It will be filled in an administrative title (e.g., Director, Assistant Dean, etc.), which will depend on credentials and experience.
When applying, please include a list of five references, and a cover letter explaining your interest in the position and what your vision would be for developing a robust and innovative academic support program at St. John’s.
This position is subject to a comprehensive background screen, with employment contingent upon satisfactory results. If access to a University vehicle is required for the position, a DMV check for driving record and valid driver’s license is also required.
St. John’s offers a competitive compensation program which is commensurate with your qualifications, experience, and contingent upon the departmental budget. We also offer an extremely comprehensive benefits program to meet the diverse needs of our workforce. Along with exceptional benefits such as medical, dental, life insurance, long term disability insurance, tuition remission, generous 403(b) employer contribution, employee assistance program, and liberal paid time off policies, faculty and staff can also enjoy St. John’s performing arts, libraries, bookstores, dining facilities, campus recreation and sporting events.
St. John’s University is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages applications from women and minorities.
Applications are accepted online via this link.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
Writing style, organization, and format are critical to successful bar exam performance. Do not fall into the trap of only memorizing the law. You must also focus on your approach and your writing techniques in order to reach a passing score on the Multistate Essay Exam and the Multistate Performance Test. Here are a few ways to ensure that you will achieve passing scores:
Essay Exam Tips
- First, carefully read the call lines so that you know what the examiners are asking. Craft your answer around those calls. See an earlier post Answer the Question for more details.
- Actively read the facts. Search for the legally significant facts and try to find relevance for all of the facts. Use a pen to make notes in the margins and/or circle/underline the key details. (Highlighters are not allowed in certain jurisdictions.) These details should be used in your analysis.
- Use IRAC!
- Use simple straightforward sentences and short paragraphs.
- You should have a new IRAC for each legal issue. Separate your issues to maximize your points.
- Do not merely memorize and recite rules. NO DATA DUMPS! Instead, show the graders that you know the rules and understand how they apply to the facts. In order to do this successfully, you need to weave the facts into your legal analysis.
- MAKE IT EASY FOR THE GRADER TO GIVE YOU POINTS!
- Keep track of your time. Write the start and end time on your scratch paper for each of your essays. This will help you with managing your time. Do not go over the 30 minutes allotted for each essay.
- After each essay is completed, put it behind you, and focus on the next essay or the next section of the exam. Do not waste time and head space second-guessing your performance on an earlier essay. Stay in the present and stay positive!
Performance Test Tips
- Pay close attention to the task memo and the specific instructions within it. The task memo holds the key to your success. Consider who you are, who your client is, the tone, format, and limiting instructions for your task.
- Create your framework from the issues presented in the task memo. Use detailed and descriptive headings and issue statements throughout your task.
- Next, read the file to outline the key facts related to your task and your issues. (Alternatively, some applicants prefer to read the library first.)
- Take your time! Read the facts and the law carefully so that you have a good understanding of your case and are able to identify the salient details.
- Organize your thoughts before you begin writing. Use your scratch paper! You do not need fancy charts, but you may need to sketch out your framework or bullet point your key facts either on your scratch paper or in your examsoft file on your computer. This should take between 30-45 minutes.
- Use only the amount of time allowed for each PT task. Write your start and end time on your scratch paper and move on to the second task when your time is up.
- Use IRAC! Use it for every issue and sub-issue!
- Synthesize the cases by writing brief case summaries. For example, “In Holt, the athlete Holt’s face was not visible and his number, sponsors, and name were deleted, however other specific defining features (the unique color scheme and design of the athlete’s ski suit) were visible.”*
- Compare and distinguish your facts from the facts in the cases presented in the library. For example, “Our case is similar to Holt because in the photo used by the Gazette, no part of Jackson’s face was visible. Additionally, in our photograph, most of Jackson’s body and uniform were obscured and only the second zero of his uniform was visible. However, our case is distinguishable from Holt’s because in Holt the athlete had a unique suit design and color that belonged only to him. Here, there were at least two other Blue Sox players who were the same race as Jackson and who wore the number ending in zero like Jackson at the time the photo was taken. Thus, unlike Holt, it is possible there was no unique uniform that made Jackson readily identifiable.”*
- Make your answer easy to read. Use short concise sentences and paragraphs and make each word count.
- Remember to review what you have written before time is called. Become the grader. Save a few minutes at the end to read and edit your MPT answer.
Keep practicing…practice equals passing!
*Examples taken from passing Georgia bar exam answers.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
You’ve spent the past two months weeks cramming thousands of pieces of material into your brain. You eat, sleep, dream bar exam. You are probably afraid to see or hear anything non-bar exam related for fear it might push a rule of law out of your brain. You are ready to get into the bar exam zone. Below are a few tips for getting into (and staying) the bar zone:
- Pace Yourself: Follow the bar exam schedule. Get up and be studying by 9am, take a break at noon, study until 5-6. 8-10 hours, max. That’s it. No 12+ hour days. No studying until 3am and crashing until noon. It’s time to get your brain and your body on the bar exam schedule.
- Balance Review and Practice: This is not a law school exam where you are expected to know absolutely everything and get points simply for discussing it. This is the bar exam and although substance matters, so does style. Your response has to be thorough, organized and concise. If all you do is memorize then you won’t be able to actually write a response. If all you do is answer questions, you won’t know why you make mistakes or how to avoid making them again.
- Go With the Flow: Every time you read a question remember that it’s not about what you want to say, it’s about what the bar examiners want you to say. Spend time answering questions so you can recognize patterns and develop a strategy. In just a few days, the process will become natural and by exam day, it will be a comfortable habit.
- Address Anxiety:Being anxious is normal and expected. You just can’t let it interfere with performance. When your nerves start getting the best of you, stop and take a breath. Think of all you’ve done thus far; have confidence in your preparation and abilities. Take it one question at a time and work your way through. Keep moving forward. Your instinct will kick in and soon you’ll be back in the bar exam zone.
Katherine Silver Kelly
Monday, July 14, 2014
I wish that I could say that I thought of the title to this posting myself, but I didn't. I have taken/borrowed the title of this post from my son's blog.
When we approach new and challenging tasks -- regardless of what those tasks may be -- repetition is important to mastery and, yes, to resilience. I would add one point to my son's sentiment: it is also critical that we do not always struggle in isolation as we work toward mastering new tasks.
Whether you are studying for the bar exam, whether you are a first year law student trying to master the myriad skills necessary to succeed, or whether you are, like my son, learning to use excel spread sheets, repetition is a key. But, you should also be willing to accept assistance and support that is offered to you.
For July bar exam takers, as you prepare to take the bar exam, employ repetition to achieve success (and resilience) and take advantage of all of the support and instruction offered by both your commercial bar prep class and by your law school.
For those about to enter law school in the fall, you will face new tasks. Employ repetition, but be sure to take advantage of the assistance offered to you by your law schools: attend academic support workshops and classes; meet with your professors; and meet with your law school’s academic support professionals. And remember that "nothing teaches resiliency like repetition."
(Myra G. Orlen)
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Repetition is one technique widely known and frequently used for memory retention. However, during bar review, many students try to spend long hours cramming the black letter law into their heads without thinking about sequencing or spacing.
Bar students typically focus on one subject over the course of 10-14 hours and only move on when they feel that they have sufficiently memorized the core substantive law for that area. This is called “massed presentation” because it is focused study over a short span of time (i.e. one day or a few hours).
“Spaced presentation” differs because it entails studying the material several times spaced out over a longer time frame (i.e. one hour every four days). There are several specific theories and detailed approaches that have been studied regarding spaced repetition. However, the essence of what the research tells us is that repetition with spaced intervals increases learning, retention, and supports memorization of vast amounts of material. Thus, it is advantageous for bar students to create a schedule that incorporates “spaced repetition” instead of cramming.
So, instead of “massing” all of Torts in one day, students should consider studying Torts one day for a few hours; and, then studying Torts again two days later for a couple of hours. The more exposure to the material and the more they try to actively recall it, the better they will remember it.
With 18 days left until the bar exam, students need to find the most efficient and effective study strategy. Spaced repetition is not only efficient and effective, it also helps students avoid passive studying and keeps them focused. Just think, if they are cramming Torts for 14 hours straight, they may feel like committing a tort by the end of it. Instead, switching subjects and means of study, will provide variation and increase attention and retention.
Lisa Bove Young
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Flash cards can help a bar taker memorize rules and elements quickly and effectively. Like with law school outlines, it is the process, not the product of making them that provides the most benefit. Commercial flashcards are available for purchase, but homemade cards will have a greater impact. Students should make a flash card for a rule every time they miss a practice question due to not knowing the rule. It is not necessary, and not possible to make a flash card for all rules during bar review. Students should focus on the rules that they have difficulty remembering. The elements of a good bar review flash card are first to put the name of the rule on the front. For example, “first degree burglary”. On the back side, list the elements. Depending on the student’s learning style, they may choose to make a list, or may choose to make a mind map. In the traditional list style, the elements for this example are: 1) breaking AND 2) entering 3) the dwelling of another 4) in the night time 5) with intent to commit a felony therein 5) the felony is a) taking b) the personal property of another c) worth more than $500. In the bottom left hand corner, write the page number of the bar review materials where this information is referenced. This is done in case the student wants to go back for a more in depth review after looking at this card. In the upper right hand corner, the student can write a mnemonic using the first letter of each element. Here, “Big Elephants Dance Nightly with Iguanas.” If it is something that can be visualized or is humorous it makes it easier to remember. Finally, in the lower right hand corner the student can draw a small picture. For this example, it could be a drawing of an elephant wearing a burglary mask (because it is burglary), and a ballet tutu (because he is dancing) with the stars and moon above (because it is nighttime) next to an iguana holding a bag of money labeled > $500 (for the intent and amount). Flash cards are a powerful tool students should consider using to enhance their bar studies. (Bonnie Stepleton)
Monday, July 7, 2014
More thoughts from the 2014 LWI Biennial Conference: using LRW assignments to teach critical case reading.
As I prepare to teach my final class of the summer term, I am also thinking of ways to tweak my ASP programming when the next term begins in August. Fortunately, I attended both the AASE Conference in Indianapolis and the LWI Conference in Philadelphia.
The LWI Conference offered good opportunities for ASP folks and LRW folks, alike. At every turn, it was possible to take away good ideas to use to improve academic success programming. On the last day of the LWI Conference, Jane Grisé of the University of Kentucky School of Law presented on the topic of "Integrating Academic Success in the Legal Writing Curriculum."
Professor Grisé noted spoke about her experience using cases and statutes from Legal Writing assignments in early ASP sessions. She found that doing so motivated 1L's to attend the sessions and decreased stigma that can deter some students from attending ASP sessions.
The sessions appeal to a lot -- if not all -- of the first year class because the sessions adress skills necessary to succeed on impending LRW assignments. At the same time, the sessions allow students to gain case-reading skills that can transfer to their reading for other classes. These early sessions can use LRW cases as the focus in teaching critical case reading and case synthesis. The sessions can also address time managment in the context of both the impending LRW assignment and the semester writ large.
(Myra G. Orlen)