Saturday, May 9, 2009

Advice on how to grade in order to avoid those pesky student appeals

Here's some good advice from Inside Higher Ed. about how to minimize the number of students who challenge their grades by communicating expectations more clearly and effectively before those assignments are turned in. 

One great read on grade appeals is Marcia Ann Pulich’s, 'Student Grade Appeals Can Be Reduced' published in 1983 in Improving College and University Teaching.Although it’s dated, many of the concepts are still applicable. In short, Pulich advises professors to communicate grading policies clearly and stick to them. She advocates a simple grading method and recommends that professors check to see that students understand individual grades and how they relate to their final in-class grade.

Read the full story here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New study finds no relationship between amount of time spent on Facebook and grades

Last month, we reported on a study that found a correlation between the amount of time students spend on Facebook and their grades.  Although the researcher denied a causal connection, that qualifier was often lost in some of the reporting at the time.

Now comes a new study, involving a larger group of students, that finds no causal link between the two. As this new report states:

'I suspect that basic Facebook use -- what these studies measure -- simply doesn’t have generalizable consequences for grades,' said Hargittai, whose research explores the social and policy implications of the Web. The doubt cast on the use of social networking sites vis-à-vis students, the study suggests, is reminiscent of suspicions cast on earlier new media, including TV and motion pictures, and their effect on children.

'The Internet and social networking sites in particular can be used in any number of ways, some of which may be beneficial to the user and others less so. More important than whether people use these sites is what they do on them,' said Hargittai. 'Cultivating relationships, for example, can lead to positive outcomes.'

That is not to say that extraordinary Facebook use can never have deleterious effects on academic performance.

'If somebody’s spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook at the expense of studying, his or her academic performance may suffer, just as it might from spending an excessive time on any activity,' Hargittai said. 'We need more research with more nuanced data to better understand how social networking site usage may relate to academic performance.'

Read the full story here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Claim of widespread overbilling for online legal research causes client freak-out

The online ABA Journal is reporting that a former client of Chadbourne & Parke is suing the firm over alleged over-billing practices in connection with Westlaw and Lexis services.  The lawsuit claims that the law firm paid a flat rate for such services but charged the client by the hour instead.  The result was that the client was billed $20,000.00 for online research that only cost the firm $5,000.00. 

The plaintiff's lawyer said "[t]his appears to be more widespread than you would think. Basically what we're finding is that certain law firms are using Westlaw and Lexis as profit centers. … Quite candidly, what we're finding is the clients really have no idea that this is going on."  The lawyer went on to say that more law suits against firms who over-billed clients for computer research are in the pipeline.

Read the full story here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)
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May 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New website for depressed lawyers, judges and law students

With two lawyer suicides in the past week seemingly related to lay-offs, this is an unfortunate sign of the times. You can access the website, lawyerswithdepression.com, here.

Hat tip to Above the Law.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A school that requires students to buy iPhones and/or iPod Touch as learning tool

OK, so it's the University of Missouri's School of Journalism rather than a law school - but innovation, like opportunity, is where you find it.  The idea behind this requirement is that because most students use the devices anyway, making them mandatory might encourage students to download and replay recorded lectures which will facilitate better retention and learning. 

'Lectures are the worst possible learning format,'  [Associate Dean Brian] Brooks was quoted as saying. 'There’s been some research done that shows if a student can hear that lecture a second time, they retain three times as much of that lecture.'

Fair enough.  But if you're going to record your lectures, beware the pitfalls of doing so as the YouTube video known as "the stoned professor" amply demonstrates.

FWIW - the new iPod Touch is an amazing little device well worth having.

Hat tip to the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, May 8, 2009

transforming legal learning

The AALS Section on Academic Support has announcesd its program on Transforming Learning in the Classroom: the 21st Century Law Professor, for the 2010 AALS Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The presenters will be:

Co-Moderators:
Emily L. Randon, UC Davis School of Law
Robin Boyle Laisure, St. Johns University School of Law
Kathy Garcia, University of La Verne School of Law

Speakers:
Transforming Students and Teachers: Team-Based Learning in Law School
* Barbara McFarland, Northern Kentucky University School of Law
* Sophie Sparrow, Franklin Pierce Law School
* Barbara Glesner-Fines, UMKC School of Law

Using Technology and Case Materials to Reach All Learning Styles
* Pavel Wonsowicz, UCLA School of Law

Designing Efficient and Effective Peer Evaluation Exercises
* Susan Keller, Western State University College of Law

Structuring Study Group Assignments to Increase Feedback
* Hillary Burgess, Hofstra Law School

A disproportionate number of these speakers are also legal writing professors.  Coincidence?

hat tip: Robin Boyle

(spl)

       

May 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Where do I sign up for those law firm deferred start date programs?

Not to make you feel bad right before the weekend, but do you realize that BigLaw is paying deferred associates not to work (the going rate is about $5k a month to stay home) more than some of us make to work?  As the Snark points out, among other things, this may not be the best strategy to pursue if a firm is intent on showing its clients how much they're doing to keep fees and costs down.  Read more here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New legal economy means BigLaw and elite law schools are "out" while regional schools and smaller firms are "in"

There are many silver linings in the current legal economic crisis.  One that we have repeatedly blogged about is that circumstances are forcing schools to create a greater nexus between the education they offer to students and the demands of employers.  A related benefit for those of us who work at the non-elite law schools (which, frankly, is most of us) is that our time has come, at least according to this story in the online ABA Journal which quotes Professor William Henderson of Indiana, an expert on law firms and the legal marketplace. 

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May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Professionalism alert: The perils to lawyers (and their staff) who Tweet

The Legal Blog Watch contains an interesting editorial about the confidentiality perils of lawyers (or their paralegals, assistants, witnesses and/or experts) who Tweet about their cases.  The jumping off point is an article in today's Washington Post about how a 23 year old assistant film editor working in Massachusetts who used Twitter to answer a friend's inquiry about how he'd been spending his time.  "I work 45 hours a week as an assistant editor in Boston editing political campaign commercials. Right now: Bob McDonnell for VA Gov."  The problem - McDonnell hadn't yet made the announcement public. 

Here's the concern expressed in the LBW post about lawyers and their staff who Tweet:

It's easy to see how lawyers or their staff could commit a similar Twitter faux pas and tip off an opponent. For example, a lawyer's assistant might tweet "Tried to contact witness for Jones trial but couldn't find him," thus letting the other side know that a critical witness is missing. Or a lawyer in the midst of a trial might tweet "Awful day in court, ridiculous ruling" that the judge might run across. 

My own personal rule of thumb is that I don't tweet about ongoing matters, ever -- not even letting on that I was in court on a given day. I may be overly cautious, but I'd rather be safe than sorry -- sorry like [that 23 year old assistant film editor] may be now.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

 

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May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

List of "Top 10" most innovative law schools

This one comes to us, once again, from our good friends at the Law Librarian blogPreLaw Magazine has named the following schools as most innovative based on a survey of law school deans:  Chicago Kent, DePaul, Gonzaga, New York Law School, St. Louis Univ., Seattle, Syracuse, Touro, Detroit-Mercy and Washington & Lee.

Joe Hodnicki adds the following commentary:

Social Media Law Student blog writes, 'those advocating the use of social media in the legal profession may have a bit of an uphill battle when a law school named top 10 most innovative law school in America' [i.e., Saint Louis Univ.] seems to show little knowledge about web 2.0 technologies. See Does Top 10 Most Innovative Law School in America Get Social Media? In St. Louis University's defense, the scope of the pre-Law survey was law school innovation generally, not just innovation in information technology, services and web communications. That would be a different survey, one, perhaps, Social Media Law Student should do. Might be interesting.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Demo video of Amazon Kindle DX - see the future of textbooks now!

Thanks to our good buddy Joe Hodnicki at the Law Library Blog for tipping me off to this demo video of the newly released Kindle DX.  Of course no one knows for sure whether this will become the dominant e-reading platform, but my Magic 8-Ball says: "Signs Point to Yes."

Here's the description from the LLB and a demo video after that:

It's 7.2" wide and 10.4" tall, just a little smaller than I expected. With so many things in our lives adapted to the size of a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper, it seems to me that would have been a better target for the DX. (Internationally, A4 paper serves the same purpose at 8.3 x 11.7 inches, so perhaps 8.3 x 11.0 inches would have been a good compromise.)

The DX's monochrome E Ink display is much smaller than I was hoping for, only 9.7" diagonal. Like the original Kindle, much of the space on the front of the unit is occupied by page-turning buttons and a physical keyboard.

The screen has 1,200 x 824 pixels, about the number on the LCD of a 12" Dell Latitude E4200 laptop, so the Kindle DX's linear resolution is significantly higher than that of most notebook displays. However, it's about 10% lower than that of the 6" E Ink display on the Kindle 2 (150 dpi vs. 167 dpi).

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Scribd

Logo If you are looking for a quick link to a document, and your usual legal data base and web searches are coming up dry, try going to Scribd.  If you want to make a document accessible to the world, this site is a good place to post it.  It's been described as kind of like a YouTube for documents.  

hat tip:  Howard Friedman

(spl)

May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Global Legal Skills Conference IV

Here's a reminder about the upcoming Global Legal Skills Conference at Georgetown University Law Center.  Click here for information on the program and registration.

(mew)

May 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Some female attorneys claim female superiors are their worst tormentors

This is an interesting story.  The May issue of The American Lawyer includes an article called The End of Sisterhood discussing the complaint among some female attorneys that female superiors treat them the worst.  As the article explains:

Over sushi, cosmos, and the occasional mani/pedi treatment, [women attorneys] are bonding, united in the mission for gender equality. The message is clear: Women are united, and they want their sisters to succeed.

But scratch the surface a bit deeper, and some members of the sorority tell another story: that women--particularly their immediate superiors--can be their worst tormentors. Fact is, despite the veneer of harmony and the decades of shared struggle, there's tension on the women's front. Talk to any group of women lawyers, and there will be plenty of war stories on the betrayals--real or perceived--that they have experienced at the hands of other women. 

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May 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Blackboard buys rival course management software

For all you Lexis-Blackboard users out there, you might be interested in this news item.  The course management software giant is acquiring a company called Angel Learning that makes a competing software package. 

You can read the rest of the story here.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law schools must create a more practical curriculum to adapt to the new legal marketplace

To faithful readers of this blog, "old news is no news."  We already know that the convergence of several factors such as the Carnegie Report and the abysmal legal job market are putting tremendous pressure on law schools to better prepare students to practice law right out of the gate.  Nevertheless, it's still nice to be vindicated by a group of prominent legal academics as happened during yesterday's panel discussion entitled "Future of Innovation" at the 3rd Circuit Judicial Conference in Philadelphia.  Representatives from Duke, Harvard, UPenn and Drexel talked about "how they've been trying to better prepare their students for life after graduation."

Among the panelists, UPenn's Dean Michael Fitts noted that:

the legal landscape has changed in such a way that the old curricula just may not cut it anymore.  For example, he said, most law institutions are no longer interested in training new graduates the way they were 20 years ago.  Now, more than ever, graduates need to come out of school with some knowledge of how to apply what they've learned in a real world setting.

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May 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Update on Twitter Quitter story - Nielsen responds to critics

Earlier this week, my blogleague, Professor Barger, posted a story about the results of a Nielsen survey showing that 60% of Twitter users quit within a month.  The Nielsen people took some heat from the Twitter community so they ran their survey again, this time expanding the base of Twitter users surveyed.  However, the results remained pretty much the same as one of their researchers explains here and in the video below.

Thanks to our good buddy Joe Hodnicki at the Law Library Blog for steering us to the follow-up Nielsen research.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Legal writing professor alleges contract not renewed due to age and gender bias

Priatt

According to Law.com, legal writing professor Rosanne Piatt has filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC alleging that St. Mary's School of Law declined to renew her annual contract due to age and gender discrimination.   Professor Piatt's annual contract has been renewed every year since 1999 until April 1, 2008, when the school notified her that it would not renew the contract again. "I was given no reason for the non-renewal of my contract," she alleges in her charge.  Professor Piatt also says she would like her job back.

There's a bit of a back-story to all of this:

In the charge, which Piatt filed in November 2008, she alleges her belief that St. Mary's law school has discriminated against her because of her age and gender. She is 57 years old.

'If you're an older female at St. Mary's, you're at risk,' Piatt alleges in an interview. ...

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May 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

the jurisprudential essay


JLEBanner A form of legal writing not familiar to most U.S. legal writers is the essay on jurisprudence, i.e., an essay on legal philosophy.  Volume 58, number 3, of the Journal of Legal Education includes a fascinating article on this writing format and its most desirable characteristics:  On Writing:  The Essay in Jurisprudence, by U.K. professor Claire Grant.  Much of the advice will ring true to any U.S. attorney or legal writing professor who ordinarily focuses on law practice documents.

(spl)

May 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Multitasking is a myth" declares author of new book on the science of concentration

Multitasking Yup, it's official - students can't buy shoes, "text" friends, do their taxes and learn the Rule Against Perpetuities at the same time.  At least according to this new book by author Winifred Gallagher called "Rapt:  Attention and the Focused Life" which is reviewed in today's NYT.

'Multitasking is a myth,' Ms. Gallagher said. 'You cannot do two things at once. The mechanism of attention is selection: it’s either this or it’s that.' [Gallagher] points to calculations that the typical person’s brain can process 173 billion bits of information over the course of a lifetime.

'People don’t understand that attention is a finite resource, like money,' she said. 'Do you want to invest your cognitive cash on endless Twittering or Net surfing or couch potatoing? You’re constantly making choices, and your choices determine your experience, just as William James said.'

Concentration, it turns out, involves a lot of hard work to thwart the brain's natural tendency to become distracted by whatever "bright or novel" stimulus flashes in front of the 'ol retinas, so to speak.  

'It takes a lot of your prefrontal brain power to force yourself not to process a strong input like a television commercial,' said Dr. Desimone, the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T. 'If you’re trying to read a book at the same time, you may not have the resources left to focus on the words.'

Interestingly, the solution to achieving better concentration may one day be found in light pulse therapy.  Until then, meditation seems to works fine according to Ms. Gallagher.

So, can we finally declare "multitasking" an urban myth just like Y2K and alligators in the NYC sewers?

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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May 5, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)