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 A paper may have already been accepted for publication as long as it will not be published prior to the Annual Meeting.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, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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)
Sunday, July 6, 2014
Thursday, July 3, 2014
A fun 4th of July hypo for all of you studying for the bar exam.
Ariel and Elsa decided to throw a party for the 4th of July, which also happened to be their 20th birthday, at their parent’s beachfront home. Their parents were out of the country traveling, but they knew of Ariel and Elsa’s party plans and provided the beverages, which included several cases of the finest French champagne. After Triton’s Catering delivered the crab cakes, caviar, and chocolate ganache cake, the guests started to arrive. Swarms of invited guests mingled and danced to the tunes of the band, The Snowman and The Mermaid.
Ariel is allergic to nuts and Triton’s Catering was informed that the food should be prepared without them. Sebastian and Olaf, Ariel and Elsa’s neighbors, brought fireworks to set off during the party. After each consuming several glasses of champagne, Sebastian and Olaf started the firework show on the beach. The fireworks beautifully lit the dark night sky.
During the firework show, Olaf’s little sister Anna, who was 7 and uninvited, grabbed a firework from the pile on the sand and set it off over the water. Since the firework was not properly ignited, Anna received 3rd degree burns on her arm and the firework landed on a wooden boat moored in the harbor, which went up in flames. Paramedics responded to a call and placed a tourniquet on Anna’s arm. The tourniquet was applied too tightly and resulted in Anna’s arm being amputated.
The music and noise from the partygoers angered neighbor Ursala and she told them to end the party or she would call the police. Elsa, yelled at Ursala in front of the crowd of partygoers and told her to “Let it go! Just go away and slam the door! You are crazy and should go back to the crazy farm where you have been for the last year.”
After enjoying some champagne and caviar, Ariel ate a slice of chocolate cake. Her throat began to swell and she stopped breathing. The paramedics tried to revive her, but it was too late and Ariel died. A reporter showed up and included in an article the next day, that the neighborhood is convinced that Ursala is crazy. Neighbor Hans was quoted as saying that, “It was only 9:30 at night and the music didn't bother him anyway.” Ursala had a breakdown as a result and now cannot leave her house.
Discuss the liability of:
1. Ariel, Elsa and their parents
2. Sebastian and Olaf and Anna
3. Triton’s Catering
I just returned from the LWI Biennial in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay the full three days, but I was able to attend the majority of the conference. And it was well worth it. I would strongly suggest Academic Support professionals with the means to attend legal writing conferences to do so. Legal writing and ASP have collaborated for as long as we have been a part of legal education, and our histories are intertwined. ASP well-represented at LWI, and the sessions gave me much food for thought. An example was the presentation by Jeremy Francis of Michigan State. He presented on a long-term study of writing support. The study was one that could easily be replicated by ASP folks (with the assistance of institutional research or statisticians), and I found his results to be fascinating. Katie Rose Guest Pryal of UNC Law gave a fascinating presentation on genre theory. For everyone reading this, thinking, "that's so legal writing, and I have nothing to do with legal writing," let me clarify. She presented on how to teach students the basics of all legal documents, but examining the similarities and differences between them. I left her presentation thinking, "WOW! This is a revolution in legal writing, and it has SO much applicability to ASP!" The ASP work being done by Chelsea Baldwin of Oklahoma City Law School has significant overlaps with Dr. Pryal; Chelsea is looking at the difference between doctrinal subject matter, and Dr. Pryal is looking at similarities. Both scholars are examining law in ways that can help our students see the big picture.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the number of ASPers who presented at LWI; Kris Franklin and Paula Manning had an amazing presentation on using visuals to teach students about applying and distinguishing cases, Corie Rosen (formerly of ASP, but still a friend of ASP) presented on positive psychology, Myra Orlen presented on the new normal, and Courtney Lee presented on bar support. I strongly recommend that ASPer's beg, borrow, or steal a copy of Kris and Paula's presentation materials--their material was a game changer. It is a credit to Kris that I have seen a version of her presentation several times, and yet I get something new from it each time. And if I missed anyone, I sincerely apologize, I wasn't able to attend the entire conference.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
I've started working out recently with this exercise DVD program called Focus T25 by Shaun T. It's incredibly hard and I often find myself wanting to quit half way through, it's only a 25-minute video. Whenever I want to give up Shaun T will chime in and say “stay focused, don’t quit.” After yelling several obscenities at the TV screen, I usually manage to crawl to the end by staying focused on the end goal, which is to get back in my skinny jeans and ultimately to have a healthy lifestyle. For those of you taking the bar exam, the bar review is much like that exercise video. There are times when you want to give up and may yell obscenities at anything bar related (aside from an actual bar), but I beg of you to please don’t lose focus and don’t give up.
Most of you entered law school with an end goal in mind. You wanted to help the underserved access legal services, you wanted to work on the next big deal or you wanted to fight crime as an ADA. Whatever the case may be, you entered law school with a goal. Don’t let the bar exam make you lose sight of that goal. I know it’s hard and you may want to give up at times, but that’ s when you need to stay focused and as Shaun T would say “dig deeper.” Ask yourself “why am I doing this?” If you can still answer, because “I want to help the underserved”, “I want to be a great litigator “or “I want to be the next great deal maker”, then you must hang on to that and power through.
The bar review and the bar exam will test your mentally, physically and emotionally, but stay focused and fiercely hang on to your goal. It really is worth it. (Larasz Moody-Villarose)
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Some may remember from Saturday Night Live the lovable character Stuart Smalley - “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” Students studying for the bar will do well to heed Stuart’s affirmation. As a part of my bar review class, I begin each session by handing out a 3 x 5 index card and asking students to write an affirmation, prayer, statement, or to draw a picture that will help them form a positive mental attitude. In writing these, I remind students to phrase them in a positive voice. For example, rather than writing, “I am not stupid” write, “I am competent.” The mind tends to hear and remember the last word spoken. The affirmation should be short - preferably one sentence long. At the end of each class, we take a minute to have one volunteer share one affirmation for the group and then read aloud all the affirmations compiled up to that point. I was hesitant to do this for fear of being crtiticized as being too "touchy/feely" but decided to take the risk. I am glad I did. Many students report that although initially skeptical, they find this exercise helpful in maintaining calm. Because the affirmations are personal, they are powerful. (Bonnie Stepleton)
Monday, June 30, 2014
Saturday, December 6, 2014
For generations, college and law school educators have often voiced the belief that their students are not as prepared as they used to be. Although some educators may disagree about whether there really has been a change in students since the apocryphal “good old days,” there is a growing body of scholarship suggesting that 21st Century college graduates and law students lack the critical thinking skills necessary for law study and that as educators we are facing new challenges in teaching these students. Scholars and other commentators have pointed to many causes for the real (and perhaps perceived) problems that new law students experience while trying to cope with the demands of academic and professional training. These causes include the declining quality of pre-college schooling, the focus on standardized testing, lowered expectations at the undergraduate level, a decrease in the numbers and “quality” of incoming law students, the generational characteristics of current law students, the effects on student learning from psychological problems such as anxiety disorders, the deleterious influence of the Internet and computer technology, and more. This conference will offer attendees an opportunity to hear from others who are interested in these questions, and, hopefully, learn how to better teach current law students or change the current educational environment. The DUQUESNE LAW REVIEW, which has published papers from two previous Colonial Frontier conferences, will devote space in its Spring 2015 symposium issue to papers from the conference.
Here is an alphabetical list of the presenters, their schools, and the topics of the twelve 30-minute presentations:
• Mary Ann Becker, Loyola Univ. Chicago College of Law – Understanding the Tethered Generation: Net Gens Come to Law School
The attendance fee for the conference will be $50 for non-presenters. Duquesne will provide free on-site parking to conference attendees. The conference will begin 8:00 a.m. with a breakfast reception at the Duquesne University School of Law, followed by a welcome and a series of presentations beginning at 9:00 a.m. We will provide a catered, on-campus lunch, followed by a series of afternoon presentations, ending at approximately 3:00 p.m. The conference will close with food and drinks in the “Bridget and Alfred Pelaez Legal Writing Center,” the home of Duquesne’s Legal Research and Writing Program.
Pittsburgh is an easy drive or short flight from many cities. To accommodate persons wishing to stay over in Pittsburgh on Friday or Saturday evenings, Duquesne will arrange for a block of discounted rooms at a downtown hotel adjacent to campus, within walking distance of the law school and downtown Pittsburgh. We will also provide attendees with information about the Pittsburgh area’s attractions, including our architectural treasures, museums, art collections, shopping, and world-class professional sports teams.
For more information contact Professor Jan M. Levine at 412.396.1048 or email@example.com. Online registration for the conference and hotel will be available in September 2014, at www.duq.edu/law/legalwritingconference.
Saturday, June 28, 2014
I am in the middle (or actually, the middle of the end) of writing my first law review article in 7 years. It has been a monumental task, starting with the fact that I am terribly out of practice. The Bluebook has changed since the last time I published in a law review (and I wasn't great at Bluebooking to begin with!) I have only had a month of solid writing time, although I have been researching and writing piecemeal for almost a year. To get inspired this morning, because I am so tantalizingly close to the end, but just so burnt out and exhausted, I read an article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed comparing writing to running. I am a long distance runner, primarily at the 10k to half-marathon length, so I thought the article could help inspire me. And she did have some good advice.
Done is better than perfect. As I write, I think about all the connections I should be making. However, I don't have the time to write the article of my dreams, I have to finish. And done is better than perfect. I think this also applies to bar takers. So many high-achieving students get stuck during bar prep because they have trained themselves to be perfect. On law school exams, aiming for perfect is important if you want to be in the top of your class. But for bar prep, just getting the work done is more important than perfect. You can't be perfect when you have so many subjects to cover, and so little time.
Writing and running each require one small step. An article doesn't come out whole in a day or a week. Neither does bar prep. Each are about taking one small step, then another, and so on. Because if you look at the project, the race, or the bar exam, as one giant monolith, you will never get started. And you have to get started. And you have to keep going when you only have 4 pages of a 30 page article, or you have only read one subject in a 15 subject outline, or you have run one mile, and have 12.1 more to go.
So with that, I need to get back to writing. I am working on one of my last sections, a section that is dear to my heart--ASP. And then I need to write my conclusions. Wish me luck. And to all of you working on the bar exam, good luck to you, too. I hope to see fellow ASPers at LWI next week.
Thursday, June 26, 2014
The Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) convened in beautiful Indianapolis for their second annual conference. What went well at AASE? Well...the program was packed with creative, informative, and inspirational presentations; all in attendance can attest to knowing how to add multiple choice questions to help students achieve core competencies, recognize the implications FERPA has on Academic Support, and to design effective learning experiences for their students. Plus, it was 80+ degrees and sunny!
In true ASP fashion, everyone was encouraged to acknowledge "what went well" by expressing their gratitude, thoughts, or observations to each other on index cards. While this was conceived at the inaugural AASE conference, I am happy to report that it has now become a tradition. Honoring each other in this manner is such a gift. Both receiving an index card or giving one provides a great opportunity for us to show our support for each other.
In addition to the amazing presentations, the conference provided the perfect venue to network (and dance) with AASE members and Indianapolis was the perfect backdrop. A huge thanks to the program and planning committees and to the host school representative Carlotta Toledo for organizing such a wonderful conference. Next year's AASE conference will be in Chicago, at John Marshall Law School, and our host school representative will be Jamie Kleppetcshe.
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I am fortunate to work at a law school that is part of a major university. Physically, the law school is located at the northernmost end of the campus across a busy street (It is known as “Rio Lomas” -- which many do not dare to cross). There are amazing resources available to students, staff and faculty on main campus. Students can take advantage of all the services and resources available from training in a first class gym to attending a movie for two bucks, to taking advantage of a career fair that has cross over opportunities with graduate students. There are regularly national level speakers lecturing on a host of topics. At our school, law students can take up to 6 hours of graduate level courses in other departments such as Business, public administration, Latin
American studies and more. For staff and faculty there is top notch training for teachers through the Office for Support of Effective Teaching. Staff have tuition remission available to take classes. Take advantage of what your school has to offer this summer! (Bonnie Stepleton)
Monday, June 23, 2014
To type or not to type; that is the question . . ..
Susan Bakhshian of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles addressed this issue in her presentation at the Second Annual Conference of the Association of Academic Support Educators. Professor Bakhshian, like many of us in academic support, encourages law students to take notes the old fashioned way -- in longhand.
For years, many of us have been telling students of the potential downfalls of relying on laptops for note taking in class. First, typing notes leads students to create a transcript of the class discussion, rather than a meaningful account of what students should take from the class. Second, laptops and the internet can be unwelcome distractions in the classroom.
Recent publications confirm what we have been telling students over the years; students will get more out of writing their notes in longhand than they will if they type notes on their laptops. One such publication is a research article published in Psychological Science OnlineFirst: "The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop," by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer.
Professors Mueller and Oppenheimer's article indicates that "laptop use can negatively affect performance on educational assessments even -- or perhaps especially -- when the computer is used for its intended function of easier note taking." The studies described in their article confirm what we surmised: even though more notes are better than fewer notes, indiscriminate transcription of class content does not promote learning as well as purposefully synthesizing and summarizing class content.
Additionally, following on the heals of the AASE Conference, the New York Times published an article further addressing the connections between writing and learning: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/03/science/whats-lost-as-handwriting-fades.html. In addition to Mueller and Oppenheimer's work, the New York Times article references work done studying the connections between longhand and learning.
(Myra G. Orlen)
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Many bar applicants are unsuccessful on the written portion of the bar exam because they fail to adequately answer the question(s) posed by the examiners. However, telling our students to “answer the question” not only seems obvious, but can also feel patronizing. To avoid this, I clarify how a student can ascertain what the examiners are really asking by following these steps.
Step 1. Read the call of the question to identify the subject, parties, and cause(s) of action. If the call is narrowly crafted (i.e. Can Abel be found liable to Cain under a strict liability theory?), make sure that you are answering the specific direction within the call. If the call is broadly drafted (i.e. Discuss the liabilities of the parties.), you will need to determine the central focus from the facts presented.
Step 2. Before moving forward, recall the key topics within the subject area being tested. You should be able to visualize your checklist, flowchart, or outline for each topic area. You may even want to quickly write your mnemonics on your scratch paper.
Step 3. Now, it is time to “actively read” the fact pattern. What does “actively read” mean? Use a pen/pencil/highlighter (depending on your state bar policies) to circle, underline, or annotate the facts as you read through them slowly. Pay attention to numbers, quoted language, unusual FORMATTING, and repetition within the fact pattern. These are structural and factual issue signals. Pay close attention to these facts and use them liberally within your answer as you apply the law. Reading slowly and carefully will help you to fully synthesize and find relevance for all of the facts.
Step 4. Use your scratch paper. Yes, use the paper provided to sketch out your answer before you begin typing your response. Do NOT rewrite the entire fact pattern or your entire outline. Use your scratch paper to list the buzzwords and legally significant facts. But, you may also want to write the call of the question on your scratch paper to ensure that you answer it. These brief notes will help later with your IRAC.
Step 5. An important last step: reread the call of the question! Make sure that your scratch paper notes and initial impressions align to the actual question being asked. Now, you are ready to begin writing your answer.
Bar exam drafting committees are constructing fact patterns and questions to test various skills and abilities. The ability to identify legal issues and determine the legally relevant facts are two such skills. Knowing the law thoroughly will help you spot issues and will help you answer the question. But, practice will help even more.
(Lisa Bove Young)