Monday, February 20, 2006

"rigorous" writing experiences

The American Bar Association's Standards for Approval of Law Schools now require "at least one rigorous writing experience in the first year and at least one additional rigorous writing experience after the first year."  See Standard 302(a)(3). A new interpretation of the standards, Interpretation 302-1, makes it clear what "rigorous" means in this context:

"Factors to be considered in evaluating the rigor of writing instruction include:  the number and nature of writing projects assigned to students; the opportunities a student has to meet with a writing instructor for purposes of individualized assessment of the student's written products; the number of drafts that a student must produce of any writing project; and the form of assessment used by the writing instructor."

While there are no specific numbers given, this interpretation means the ABA Accreditation Committee will be considering whether both 1L and upper division writing courses require multiple and varied writing experiences; one-on-one conferences; multiple drafts, rewrites, and editing; and some assessment of the writing itself.  Particularly in upper division courses, in some schools some professors historically have focused on the substantive law content of seminar papers rather than the writing process, and they may need to change their syllabi and approaches in those courses to be in compliance with the ABA standards. (spl)

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