Sunday, July 19, 2009
In addition to experiential learning, the other hot topic heard throughout the ALWD conference was outcome assessments. The new interest in outcome assessments is driven in part by the ABA's broad review of all its standards and the philosophies behind them. There were several opportunities for new legal writing directors to learn about the ABA standards at the conference, as well as a lunch-time plenary yesterday updating everyone in attendance on the latest developments.
Lyn Goering presented The Evolving ABA Accreditation Standards, showing us how lucky her students are to be learning statutory and regulatory analysis from a teacher who can make clear something so convoluted. Brad Clary, Pam Lysaght, Suzanne Rowe, and Craig Smith presented the lunch-time ABA Updates, explaining the ABA's new direction looking at outcomes assessment. Three very helpful break-out sessions followed, with Catherine Wasson explaining the ABA Site Inspection Process, Heather Macfarlane exploring the Relationship between ABA Standards and LRW Status, and another long-time colleague -- whom my travel-weary brain is momentarily lapsing on the identity of -- leading a broad discussion in the Open Session Exploring Topics Raised during ABA Updates Plenary. This latter group brainstormed what national outcome assessments might look like in the U.S. legal academy, how one might measure outcomes in legal education, and indeed what we even mean by outcomes.