Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, December 19, 2016

Congratulations to Our Students

Most law students have completed exams and papers (or will soon). So congratulations on finishing another semester of law school! For those of you who are first-year students, you are now seasoned law students and no longer the newbies! For those of you in second or third year, you are well along your journeys to being law school graduates.

And for those of you who have graduated this December, special congratulations and best wishes come your way! We wish you well in your bar exam study and exam-taking. We wish you well in your new employment or job hunting efforts after bar results. 

Stay focused in your bar study. Complete the entire bar review course including the practice questions - not just some of it - so that you increase your chances of passing the first time. Bar review is essential to prepare well for the exam; this is not a time to coast just because you have been studying for three years. Pace yourselves because this is a marathon and not a sprint. You can do this! (Amy Jarmon)

December 19, 2016 in Bar Exam Preparation, Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Save the Date for the Southwestern Consortium Workshop

Save the Date – March 3, 2017 for the

5th Annual Southwestern Consortium of Academic Support Professionals Workshop

 

Outside the Box:  Creative Strategies in Academic Support

at

University of Texas School of Law

in Austin, Texas

 

The Southwestern Consortium of Academic Support Professionals will host a one day conference focused on creative solutions to help students succeed.  ASP departments face the daunting task of reaching a new generation of learners with diminishing budgets.  Academic Support Professionals must adapt faster than most in academia, so we hope to provide a range of ideas to help all programs from first-year to bar passage. 

Similar to previous years, we are bringing in a great slate of presenters.  Cassie Christopher from Texas Tech School of Law, Carrie Sperling from the University of Wisconsin School of Law, Ellen Pryor from UNT Dallas College of Law, and Scott Johns from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law are among those presenting during the workshop.

Registration is open to anyone interested in academic support.  Registration forms, hotel information, and additional details will be provided in early January.  UT School of Law is located in Texas’ capital city of Austin.  Austin’s music scene and beautiful weather will make this a great place to visit in early March.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact:

Steven Foster (sfoster@okcu.edu)

Director of Academic Achievement at Oklahoma City University

 

Tentative Schedule

March 2nd:

Dinner for anyone arriving early.

March 3rd:

9-9:50 – Using a Practical Skills Curriculum to Improve Academic Success

10-10:50 – Practical Methods to Integrate a Growth Mindset into the Curriculum

11-11:50 – Utilizing Early Assessment Tools to Help At-Risk Students in First Semester

12-12:50 – Lunch

1-1:50 – A Deep Look at Variables that Predict Bar Exam Outcome

2-2:50 – Providing the Last Piece of Supplemental Instruction to Get Students Passed the Bar

December 17, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 16, 2016

Everyday I Write the Book

If you are gearing up for final exams or the February Bar, one of the most helpful things to do while studying is keep a "Big Book of Things I Did Not Know."  

Basically, as you go over practice answers, keep a legal pad of reasons why you got an answer wrong (or right for the wrong reason).  Keep it short.  So, for example, you might write "Only defendants can remove to federal court."  Every evening, work on memorizing that list.

By doing this, you should never not know those things again.  In my experience, students who do this drastically improve their performance on exams and the bar. (Alex Ruskell)

December 16, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Theory | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Graduation Chatter

As detailed by the quotes in yesterday's post by Prof. Goldie Pritchard entitled "Hallway Chatter," it's so encouraging to hear people encourage one another throughout the final exam period.

But, for many law schools, there's another chance to support one another (and who doesn't like a celebration!).

That's right...it's December graduation time!

In particular, this is the season when some of your colleagues will no longer - ever - take a final exam...period.  Instead, they are going to cross the stage and transition from students to graduates.  Hooray!  So, if you happen to know a friend that is graduating, be sure to give them a big congratulations.  It's a herculean achievement!

And, if you are a December graduate, take time out to celebrate your wonderful accomplishment in earning your law degree with your friends, family, and law school colleagues.  After your big day, you might take a moment to send a note or make a call to thank the many people that helped you achieved your successes in earning your law degree.  It's really a great moment. So, congratulations to you...December graduates!  (Scott Johns).

December 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hallway Chatter

Exams are in full swing so students are focused and appear to be productive. The hustle and bustle of activity throughout the building has calmed down only to usher in the quiet sounds of exam study. I see and hear students prior to and after exams; meanwhile, I am able to complete administrative tasks uninterrupted. Topics of student conversation typically relate to stress, study strategies, complex concepts, time management, and study aids. Students have an array of “light bulb moments” which is quite interesting to hear. Conversations I have with students are slightly different and concern pre-exam confidence building and post-exam debriefing.

 

The most exciting thing I have observed is how students support one another as classmates, friends, and colleagues. Students are more likely to listen to other students, even more than they listen to academic support experts, so it is nice to hear students repeat to their peers’ advice I have given them. A few things I have heard students repeat in the hallways include:

“You can do this! We’ve got this!”

“You studied so hard and it is going to pay off.”

“You taught me the information so you know it.”

“We completed all of the professor’s past exam so we have some idea of what the professor is looking for. If worse comes to worse, we have a reference point and can write something down.”

“We were in office hours more than anyone else and figured out what we did not know.”

“You are smart!”

“Leave the past in the past; you have control over what is ahead.”

 

Encouraging hallway chatter makes all the difference! (Goldie Pritchard)

December 14, 2016 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Pipeline for Law School Diversity

I recently returned from an excellent Legal Writing Institute One-Day Workshop at California Western which focused on diverse students in law schools. Leslie Culver of CWSL and I presented a session on Creating Models for K-20 Pipelines to Law School to Encourage Diverse Populations to Study Law. Inside Higher Ed posted an article on projections for diversity in high school graduates which may be of interest. The link is here. (Amy Jarmon)

December 13, 2016 in Diversity Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Book on "New Majority" Students

Inside Higher Ed posted a recent item about a new book by Sister Kathleen Ross on different classroom strategies for teaching first-generation-underrepresented students. Although the book focuses on reaching undergraduate students, it may be of interest. The link to the post is here.

December 12, 2016 in Books | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The College Experience: Why Students Lack Critical Thinking Skills

Comments are often made among faculty and academic support professionals that students enter law school without solid critical thinking skills. An Inside Higher Ed post by Ben Paris considers why colleges fail at teaching students critical thinking skills: Failing to Improve Critical Thinking.

December 11, 2016 in Learning Styles, Program Evaluation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Gender Gap in Law Schools

Inside Higher Ed provides a link to a new report by Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State law prof) and Kyle McEntee (Executive Director of Law School Transparency) that indicates the gender gap for women in law school admissions and job placement: Law School Gender Gaps.

December 10, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 9, 2016

Freedom of Choice

Multiple choice questions are dumb.  Even so, we've created a society where much of a person's life is dependent upon being good at coloring in computer-generated circles with graphite (PSAT, SAT, LSAT, ACT, etc., etc.).  Unfortunately, one's ability to pass the bar exam and practice law falls into this category, which I've always suspected was a decision based on insidious lobbying from the #2 pencil industry.

Multiple choice questions are dumb because they don't seem to test much more than the ability to spot and repeat back a factoid.  For example, imagine a multiple choice question like this on an astronomy test:

A sun is a:

A.  Gigantic nuclear furnace

B.  Helium-containing object

C.  Star

D.  Ball of incandescent gas

The best answer is obviously "C," although the other three aren't wrong.  I don't think picking "C" in that situation proves the student knows that a star is a "sun" if it is the center of a planetary system or any other important ideas about stars or suns.  It certainly does not show the student understood anything important about suns or how to suss out what a sun is.  It probably only proves that the student had the definition in his or her notes and could remember it.  In fact, I would argue that picking one of the wrong answers might actually show the student understood more about suns than if he or she picked the right one.

So, why do we use the MBE on the bar exam?  Being able to fill bubbles proves nothing about writing quality, critical thinking skills, advocacy, ethics, or any other skills society believes a lawyer needs.  

Additionally, factoids change.  In the law, there's local variations and changes in statutes and changes in interpretation.  Even in non-law questions, where one would think a static answer was more likely, the same problem exists.  For example,

The tyrannosaurus rex:

A.  Walked upright

B.  Had feathers

C.  Ate brontosaurus meat

D.  Was less cool than a velociraptor

The answer to that question depends on what decade the student is living in.  In the 1970s, A and C would work, but now scientists don't think T. Rex's walked around like Godzilla and a brontosaurus seems to be more correctly defined as an apatosaurus.  In the 1990s, after Jurassic Park, choice D looks pretty good.  As of a couple of weeks ago, choice B might be a lock.

For any educational endeavor, the idea of one never-changing factoid a student should have burned into his or her brain tissue seems less than useful.   

In the context of legal education, I suppose the one thing a multiple choice exam like the MBE accomplishes is proving that the person can be given a standardized assignment that is somewhat herculean and force himself or herself to put in enough work to pass it.  I guess one could argue the MBE shows grit and seriousness and ability to follow directions, but except for the ability to put up with a lot of grunt work, I don't think the MBE proves much of anything as far as being a lawyer goes.

However, at least for the time being, this is the world we are stuck with (much like complaining about social media and the Williams-Sonoma catalog, complaining about the MBE is probably more quixotic than anything else).  It would make much more sense for the UBE or any other bar exam to be solely comprised of MPTs and possibly some essays, but I doubt we're ever going to get there.

 DEVO -- "Freedom of Choice"

(Alex Ruskell)

December 9, 2016 in Bar Exam Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Exams are coming!

Monday marks the first day of exams for 1L students at my institution and I can sense it. Students are stressed and it is only going to get worse. Students are trying to determine what they can accomplish in the limited amount of time they have remaining. Students simply feel overwhelmed by the exam preparation process. At this point, we need to move beyond regret and encourage students to be as effective and efficient as they can be given the task at hand. Here are the top three things concerned students will likely hear from me:

(1) Quality over Quantity

I hear of students spending hours in the library simply to spend hours in the library. Some students feel a sense of accomplishment if they spend hours in the library, even if they are not studying the entire time. Presence in the library equates to information somehow being learned and retained. A library is an amazing place for students with a plan. Students who have a plan, implement the plan, and set deadlines are often more successful and better prepared for exams. A library can be an amazing learning environment if used appropriately. Start your studies with concepts you find most difficult and are most afraid of.

(2) Practice

Attempt a practice question for each and every subject area and attempt questions using the various modes of testing used by your professors. Exam day should not be the first time you write the answer to a practice question. It is also not enough to write answers to questions, it is important to know how to critique answers. More importantly, it is necessary to be honest with yourself about your performance. Challenging practice questions are not intended to be discouraging but to highlight what you know and don’t know which can be a very useful study tool.

(3) Checklist

Checklists are a great way to ensure that you are addressing all possible issues in an issue spotter exam and to ensure that you are addressing all elements or parts of a rule for each specific issue. Checklists can also be a great mechanism for starting the process of memorizing information. All the very best to law students everywhere taking exams in the very near future! (Goldie Pritchard)

December 7, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Director of Academic Success Position at U of Idaho - Boise Campus

ASP Listserv information:

This is a newly created position, created to ensure that we continue to deliver excellent academic support to our students with the addition of the 1L year at our Boise location (scheduled to begin in Fall 2017). The successful applicant would serve as the Director of Academic Success at our Boise location.  (Nancy Luebbert continues to serve with distinction as the Director of Academic Success on the Moscow campus.)

For a full description of the position, and to apply, please see https://uidaho.peopleadmin.com/postings/16288.

And for those of you unfamiliar with Boise, you can check out some info here http://www.boise.org/ and here https://www.cityofboise.org/.

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

Meet Alex Ruskell, Contributing Editor

Alex Ruskell

Alex Ruskell is the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  He received his law degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and has degrees from Washington and Lee University, Harvard University, and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.  He is the author of A Weekly Guide to Being a Model Law Student and editor of Strategies and Tactics for the Finz Multistate Method, Strategies and Tactics for the First Year Law Student, Steve Emanuel’s First Year Questions and Answers, Strategies and Tactics for the MPRE, and several other educational and legal publications.   In a review of his wife’s first book, FumblingThe National Catholic Reporter noted "Alex is a saint.  Seriously.”  He is also the lead guitarist of Columbia, SC’s most sartorially challenged punk band, The Merry Chevaliers.

 

December 6, 2016 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 5, 2016

Women in the Law

If you have not had an opportunity to view this series, I encourage you to have a look-see: Women in the Law. (Amy Jarmon)

December 5, 2016 in Diversity Issues, Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

U of Colorado Director of Academic Support Position

Colorado Law is hiring a Director of Academic Support.  This is a newly-created, full-time instructor level faculty appointment.  A description of the position appears below; to review the full list of requirements and to apply, please use the following link:

https://cu.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=07639&lang=en&sns_id=mailto#.WDXPFn502GA.mailto

We’d like to have someone in place in early summer, or by the beginning of the 2017 fall semester at the latest.  We will begin reviewing applications on January 9, 2017, so for full consideration please submit your application by January 8.

The University of Colorado School of Law invites applications for the position of Director of Academic Support, a non-tenure track faculty position. Working closely with faculty and administration, the successful candidate will develop, enhance, and implement academic support courses and programs to assist students in the transition to law school, improve students’ academic performance in law school, and help students develop successful strategies for the bar exam.

Job Responsibilities

The Director of Academic Support will promote the academic success of students at the Law School.  In collaboration with the Associate Deans and the Senior Assistant Dean for Students, the Director will have the opportunity to:

  • Develop and teach curriculum for and teach second- and third-year academic support courses for credit;
  • Teach a section of a Legal Analysis, an academic support course for first-year students;
  • Assist with hiring, training, and supervising student fellows to provide peer-led academic support programs;
  • Develop curriculum for and lead a pre-Orientation program for a subset of entering first-year students;
  • Teach workshops on essential law school skills for first-year students;
  • Provide individual and small-group counseling on study skills, and feedback on student practice exams and exercises;
  • Identify students who are likely to benefit from ASP resources and encourage their participation in ASP programming;
  • Provide support for students and graduates as they prepare to sit for the bar exam;
  • Work with the law school faculty and administration on analysis of academic achievement and bar examination results and strategies for maximizing academic success and bar passage for Colorado law graduates.

Please use this link for more information and to apply for the position:

 https://cu.taleo.net/careersection/2/jobdetail.ftl?job=07639&lang=en&sns_id=mailto#.WDXPFn502GA.mailto

December 4, 2016 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reminder: Assessment Conference in March 2017

COMPLIANCE WITH ABA STANDARD 314: FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT IN LARGE CLASSES

 

Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law

Spring Conference 2017

“Compliance with ABA Standard 314: Formative Assessment in Large Classes” is a one-day conference for law teachers and administrators who want to learn how to design, implement, and evaluate formative assessment plans.  The conference will be interactive workshops during which attendees will learn about formative assessment techniques from games to crafting multiple choice questions to team-based learning.  Participants will also learn ways to coordinate assessment across the curriculum.   The conference workshop sessions will take place on Saturday, March 25, 2017, at Emory University School of Law.

Conference Content:  Sessions will address the following topics:

Why Assess: Empirical Data on How it Helps Students Learn

Games as Formative Assessments in the Classroom

Formative Assessment with Team-Based Learning

Creating Multiple Choice Questions and Ways to Using Them as Formative Assessment

Coordinating Formative Assessment Across the Curriculum

Conference Faculty:  Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga) and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga)

Who Should Attend:  This conference is for all law faculty and administrators.  By the end of the conference, attendees will have concrete and practical knowledge about formative assessment and complying with Standard 314 to take back to their colleagues and institutions. Details about the conference will be available on the websites of the Institute for Law Teaching & Learning and Emory University School of Law. 

Conference Faculty:  Workshops will be taught by experienced faculty: Andrea Curcio (GSU Law), Lindsey Gustafson (UALR Bowen), Michael Hunter-Schwartz (UALR Bowen), Heidi Holland (Gonzaga), and Sandra Simpson (Gonzaga).

Registration Information:  The registration fee is $225 for the first registrant from each law school.  We are offering a discounted fee of $200 for each subsequent registrant from the same school, so that schools may be able to send multiple attendees.  Details regarding the registration process will be provided in future announcements.

Accommodations:  A block of hotel rooms for conference attendees has been reserved at the Emory Conference Center Hotel for $159/night; at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Decatur for $99/night; and at the Decatur Holiday Inn for $159/night.  Details are on the Emory Law and ILTL websites.

December 3, 2016 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Books About UFOs

A lot of times when I do presentations for high school or college students, people ask me what they should major in if they plan on going to law school.  Most of the time I answer Religion or Philosophy for close-reading and logic reasons, but I recently decided to take a close look at my bar stats and see if I was right.  I still think I am, but I would also advise students to minor in something that forces them to be creative.

According to my recent stats on students who fail the bar exam, the vast majority of students who fail majored in Political Science (35 percent) in undergrad, while the rest largely majored in Communications, Business, or Pre-Law.  Granted, I was not looking at a particularly large group of students, and people who are interested in studying law in grad school probably gravitate to these majors as it is, but it did seem notable.

For new law students, one of the biggest things to get one's head around is the idea of a hypothetical exam where anything can happen and there is no absolute correct answer.  I was an English and Creative Writing Major, and I've done my best to avoid learning anything practical like Business or Math, but in my limited understanding of what goes on in PolySci, Comm, Bus, or Pre-Law, I don't think students in those disciplines get too many chances to really flex their imaginative muscles, or at least not in the same way as someone trying to write a poem or a short story or compose music might.

When I work with struggling students, one of the most helpful things I work with them on is helping them learn to "deeply imagine" (a term I borrowed from Ethan Canin of the Iowa Writers' Workshop) legal situations that might be presented to them.  For example, I ask them to imagine "So, you're in your office, and your client, a 15-year-old kid, has thrown a frozen turkey off an interstate bridge.  He didn't realize frozen turkeys bounced, and the turkey bounced through a windshield and killed someone.  He's in the chair directly in front of your desk, completely terrified.  Mom is next to him crying.  Dad is pacing back and forth, threatening to kill the kid himself.  How would you explain what crime the kid might be guilty of?"  When I can get them to see it that way, writing an answer in clear IRAC form, with counterarguments, without writing a prologue or wrap-up or spending too much time on some case they read in class, seems to change from an arbitrary writing tip to a completely sensible way to deal with the situation.  

Although many commentators have blamed the drop in bar exam pass rates on ability, intelligence, grit, or gumption, it might really be a product of the failure of the imagination.  In the modern era, "deeply imagining" practice is fairly hard to get.  As a Gen Xer, I might have been part of the last generation who had daily "deep imagination" practice.  If you are part of this generation or earlier, take a look at an old Atari 2600 game or a movie with any effects by Ray Harryhausen.  My children (10 and 12) are boggled that my mind could turn blue dots into space ships or cheesy dolls into the Kraken.  I've also never heard my children say they were bored -- ever -- even on car trips.  They have their books, movies, cartoons on demand, and video games.  They've never had to play car bingo or make something out of boxes to play with (unless they really, really wanted to).  "Deeply imagining" anything is not really necessary for happiness or entertainment anymore.

This morning on the way to school, I told my kids how my junior high friends and I had once made a shot-for-shot remake of the movie Airplane!  and convinced a good deal of the school to come to a toga party to celebrate (in retrospect, I have no idea why any of our parents agreed to a bunch of seventh graders reenacting a scene from  Animal House, but 1980s Texas was a lot weirder than people give it credit for).  My son kept asking me, "Were you a nerd or weirdo or something?"  My answer was, "Not really.  We roped almost everyone into it.  As kids, we were all kind of bored, and we had to entertain ourselves somehow.  That forced us to be creative."

When I went to law school, hypothetical questions seemed completely logical to me.  Exams were pretty easy because I could "deeply imagine" and SEE everything -- how the situation in the exam would look if it was happening to real people, and what I would need to say to them.  That skill was invaluable in law school, and I've worked hard to try to pass it on to students who might not have had as much practice with it as I did.  (Alex Ruskell) 

   

 

December 2, 2016 in Advice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Chewing the Cud: Should You Be The Tortoise or the Hare in Exam Prep

With exams for many students in full swing, the question becomes how "paced" to "pace" oneself in between a series of final exams.  Let me offer one thought as you swing from preparing and tacking one exam to preparing and taking another exam.  

For most of us, because we are under significant time pressures to read, organize, and write final exam answers, we tend to approach our preparation efforts with the similar feeling (i.e., that we will never be able to finish a final exam on time) unless we spend most of our exam preparation efforts engaged in timed practice.  

In other words, we try our best to work on speed at all costs because we are so worried that we will never finish the exam.  But, if you work on speed, you will never get better...only faster.  And, that's where the story of the tortoise and the hare comes in.

You know the story.  The hare bolts but soon runs out of energy because she did not pace herself.  She practiced sprinting in the moment rather than running the race for the long prize.  

On the other hand, the tortoise - slow and methodical - just keeps plodding along, step by step, pace by pace, moment by moment, until, against all odds, the tortoise passes the hare and crosses the finish line to the astonishment of all...in first prize.  

You see, it is not true that those that write the most or finish the exam the quickest earn the best grades.  

Rather, success on final exams comes in showing your work, step by step, pace by pace, moment by moment, in solving legal problems as a professional attorney would do.  And, that requires not sprinting in bursts of practice but rather in thinking carefully and slowly and critically and methodically through lots of practice final exam problems.

In short, the key to doing your best work on final exams is to slow down your practice, to reflect on your reading, analysis, and writing, and to incorporate what you learn through each practice set so that you become better able to handle future legal problem-solving scenarios.

Let me give you another picture.  Perhaps you've heard the saying: "Chew the cud."  According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase means to "think slowly and carefully about the subject."  It's roots come to use from another animal account, this time dealing with cows.  

You see, cows are said to "chew the cud."  Unlike many animals that just swallow their food, cows are constantly chewing their food.  That's because the process of digesting food for cows requires a number of steps.  First, cows need to chew their food to moisten it in preparation for digestion and send it to a part of their stomachs that adds acids to further soften the food.  Then (and this is going to get a bit gross), the first bites of food are sent back to the mouth from the stomach (i.e., regurgitated) so that the cows further chew the softened food so that another part of the stomach can property extract the critical nutrients.  http://www.cattle-empire.net/blog/115/what-cud-and-why-do-cattle-chew-it   In short, cows can't get fed from food that doesn't get crunched, regurgitated, and then re-crunched again.  And, we can't do well on final exams unless we chew on exam problems, write out exam answers, and then review and re-write our answers so that we learn.

In brief, the short days in between exams should be filled with "chewing the cud" by slowly and methodically working through practice problems so that we learn how to get the most out of our preparation efforts for final exams.  Or, as another saying goes, "haste makes waste."  So, take your time and think carefully and slowly rather than hastily and carelessly as you work through practice problems in preparation for your next final exam.  (Scott Johns).

 

 

December 1, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

I SHOULD HAVE COME LAST SEMESTER

Two of the most important workshops offered by our Academic Success Program (ASP) are consistently poorly attended. It may be because they are programs offered later in the semester or because students fail to recognize the value of the workshops until after exams. The first workshop is the Legal Analysis Workshop which addresses how to effectively issue spot, how to organize answers to essay questions, and how to develop effective analysis. Students with graded midterms seem to take the time to attend the Legal Analysis Workshop because they want to perform well on their exams or simply want to ensure that they can make positive adjustments prior to final exams. Most students are of the impression that they have a firm grasp of what is expected on exams and know how they will perform. However, for some, this is a false sense of confidence and students who really need this information to not seek it out.

The second workshop is an Exam Preparation Workshop which is presented in collaboration with our Student Affairs Office. This workshop is presented prior to Fall break to encourage students to make adjustments during the break. The workshop addresses various exam preparation skills such as memorization, resolving challenging concepts, developing a study plan given the time constraints, and applying information to multiple choice and essay questions. Once grades are posted, I am often visited by students who inquire about why we do not offer exam preparation support or help students learn how to take law school exams. I am often perplexed because the programs are advertised using a number of outlets. Students can also meet with the ASP directors individually, with Teaching Assistants who add these components to their sessions, and/or obtain information about exam preparation posted electronically. Once I inform them about all these opportunities and how to acquire the information; they either tell me that they were not paying attention or felt overwhelmed by other aspects of law school. They often say: “I should have come earlier” which always makes me smile. We leave the past behind and work on the tasks ahead, preparing for the next set of exams. 1Ls, please seek out academic support resources at your law school as it is never too late to receive help. (Goldie Pritchard)

November 30, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Are You Procrastinating?

As exams and paper deadlines approach, it is easy to procrastinate. Here are some clues that you are not using your time wisely and missing out on oomph in your studies:

  • You have alphabetized your casebooks and study aids on your bookshelf, sharpened three dozen pencils, hole-punched two hundred documents for pretty color-coded binders, made 1000 tabs for your code book, and straightened the drawers of your desk - but you have not actually studied yet.
  • Your apartment is spotless after you have done spring cleaning (after all you did not do it in April): scrubbed all baseboards, dusted every nook and cranny, washed all drapes and throws, polished the wood floors, shampooed the carpets, cleaned out closets, and polished the porcelain surfaces to a gleaming finish.
  • You have focused on Christmas shopping (Black Friday and Cyber Monday were just a start) and scoured every store for presents for family, friends, family pets, friends' pets, neighbors, neighbors' pets, distant relatives, the mailman, the cute barista at Starbucks, etc.
  • You have decided to decorate and ready your apartment for the holidays: put up your tree, hung the wreaths, strung the outdoor lights, made popcorn or construction paper chains to festoon your evergreen, baked cookies, hung stockings with care by the chimney, and wrapped endless packages in perfectly coordinated ribbons and paper.
  • You paint the living room, dining room, bedrooms, and kitchen, then redo the kitchen backsplash with an intricate mosaic that takes hours to finish, replace all countertops and the sink (you always wanted one of those farmhouse models), and decide to go shopping for new stainless steel appliances for the perfect look.
  • You write actual letters to every high school and college friend you every had (after all what says happy holidays like a handwritten missive), talk for hours on the telephone with every relative, review the 2000 emails in your inbox to see what might need deleting, and read every piece of junk mail that lands in your real-world mailbox.
  • You set a goal to study right after you watch every episode for all seasons of Downton Abbey or become world champion on your favorite gaming indulgence whether that is Pokémon Go, solitaire, or the latest really cool video game.

Do you think I am kidding? All of these scenarios reflect procrastinating law students I have known with very little exaggeration in the details. (Amy Jarmon) 

November 29, 2016 in Exams - Studying, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)