Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Yesterday, I wrote about a research study that demonstrated the need for new approaches to law teaching. Of course, if we are going to change legal education, we need a new type of casebook. Carolina Academic Press has recently began publishing such case books.
In Improving Legal Education by Improving Casebooks: Fourteen Things Casebooks Can Do to Produce Better and More Learning, Michael H. Schwartz, one of the writers of the CAP casebooks, shows how to write a new type of casebook that integrates doctrine with practice skills.
Legal education has enough scholar-driven casebooks. What legal education needs right now are learning-centered casebooks written by experts in law teaching. We need casebooks that engage students in all three Carnegie apprenticeships, casebooks that make it easy for law professors to adopt best practices, casebooks that offer law teachers a different model. We need casebooks that translate well-documented principles of instructional design to the creation of law school casebooks. This article uses the core, guiding principles of the Context and Practice Casebook Series as a mechanism for arguing for a new model of law school casebook design. It identifies fourteen features of casebooks in the Context and Practice Series that distinguish the books from some, most, and, in some instances, all other casebooks currently available in the legal education marketplace. The distinctive features fall into five categories. First, the article describes innovations aimed at increasing the likelihood that we produce practice-ready lawyers. Second, it articulates what casebooks can take from the field of instructional design. Third, it addresses what was, perhaps, the most challenging aspect of the design, creating learning experiences that assist students in synthesizing their existing value systems with the value systems implicitly and explicitly taught in law school. Fourth, the article describes the ways in which series books assist law teachers in being more effective as day-to-day classroom teachers. Finally, it explains what the books in the series do to assist law professors in providing students meaningful opportunities for practice and feedback, and to make it easier for law teachers to conduct multiple and varied summative assessments.