Monday, September 30, 2013
Norman Otto Stockmeyer has posted an article on problem solving on SSRN, Using the Problem Method to Engage Students and Simulate Law Practice. It is a chapter from the new book Teaching Law Practice: Preparing the Next Generation of Lawyers, edited by Charles Cercone, Nelson P. Miller & Christopher R. Trudeau.
Abstract: "Criticism of American legal education has centered on use of the Socratic method and, more recently, lack of a practice orientation. But proposed reforms fail to consider an alternative teaching method used successfully by other graduate schools: the problem method.
This is a chapter from the new book Teaching Law Practice: Preparing the Next Generation of Lawyers (Vandeplas Publishing, 2013). The chapter explains how the problem method is used to teach Remedies, a third-year capstone course. Instead of briefing cases, students master legal doctrine through assigned readings and analyzing legal problems of the sort a client or supervising attorney might present.
The problem method offers several advantages over traditional case-recitation or lectures. It simulates law practice, it suits the learning styles of today’s students, and it is engaging. On course evaluations, 75% of student comments on the problem method have been favorable. And implementation requires no curriculum change or resource reallocation."
I especially like this paragraph: "In my view, the problem method has several pedagogical advantages over the traditional case-recitation and lecture methods of teaching. First, it simulates law practice. Clients and partners bring problems; our graduates will need to look up the law to help resolve them. Second, it is contemporary. A problem based approach suits the learning styles of today’s students. Third, it is engaging. Third-year students are notoriously difficult to motivate. The problem method encourages active participation. And enough with briefing cases. Lawyers rely heavily on texts after all, as do judges."