Saturday, March 1, 2008

learning from their mistakes

J0289529 You're struggling to stay motivated as you read student memos or briefs full of errors. Why do they make this particular mistake? Why do they keep making the same mistakes?

A new article by Susan E. Provenzano and Lesley S. Kagan will provide you with new insights in ways to teach, comment, and conference by using using those very student errors: Teaching in Reverse: A Positive Approach to Analytical Errors in 1L Writing, 39 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 123 (2007).

From the authors' Introduction:

This article proposes a new approach to remedying 1Ls' analytical errors based on a positive, rather than antagonistic, view of error. We suggest supplementing conventional pedagogies with additional student-centered teaching methods that require students to identify the analytical shortcomings of their own papers, armed with some up-front guidance about what errors they are likely to make as novice law students. Under this approach, instead of learning exclusively the components of effective analysis or realizing where they went wrong after-the-fact from professor comments, students engage in a guided discovery process that teaches them to identify and correct ineffective analysis before their assignments are graded. As a result, students acquire a deeper, earlier understanding of the skills they are expected to exhibit in their writing assignments. By identifying students' errors and using them as a teaching tool early in the writing process, LRW professors also combat the frustrations that arise when students believe that professors are “hiding the ball” by waiting to identify errors until the end of the writing process.

. . . .

Building on the teaching tools that error analysts have used to improve composition papers, this article proposes several methods for using student error constructively by “teaching in reverse.” These teaching methods use error as a starting point, then work backwards to find the student's faulty thought processes that led to the error, with the ultimate goal of encouraging better choices at critical stages of the writing process. By investigating common errors and their connections to thought processes, and by using teaching tools that move students' thinking in a more effective direction, we aim to ease LRW professors' frustrations and to help students become proficient, self-sufficient legal analysts at an earlier stage.

Id. at 124-25, 127.

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http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legalwriting/2008/03/youre-strugglin.html

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