Law School Academic Support Blog

Editor: Amy Jarmon
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, February 18, 2019

Modeling Successful Behaviors

We all dream of new projects that could progress our programs, improve studying, or change our lives.  I think about the article I want to finish, but find allocating time to research difficult.  Adding more practice questions or additional study time is difficult.  Many people look to others lives and wonder how successful people achieved success.  We can model some of our behaviors from successful people to maximize our own potential.

I read an article last week from titled “8 Things Successful People Never Waste Time Doing.”  Cynthia Bazin said successful people don’t:

  1. Get Sucked Into Social Media
  2. Go Through the Day Without a Plan
  3. Do Emotionally Draining Activities
  4. Worry About Things They Can’t Control
  5. Hang Out With Negative People
  6. Dwell on Past Mistakes
  7. Focus on What Other People are Doing
  8. Put Themselves Last in Priority

She proceeds to quickly discuss how each of these activities can waste time and derail progress towards our goals.

Professors, law students, and attorneys could take this advice to improve productivity.  The majority of us probably spend too much time on social media.  While those apps have some advantages, the downfall is the amount of time spent using them.  30 minutes less on an app could be another article about a research topic, a practice question, or a response to client concerns.  30 minutes at night could be reading an inspiring book or quality time with family.  Consider limiting social media, screen time, or both to improve productivity.

Creating a good plan for the day is something I need to do more.  I fall into the trap of trying to solve every problem immediately and divert my attention constantly.  A better plan could ensure I get through my research. 

Check out the article.  Pick one area to save time and the one task to insert into the saved time.  Efficiency makes a huge difference in what we accomplish.

(Steven Foster)

February 18, 2019 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Congratulations to Scott Johns on a Top 10 Badge

TexasBarTodayTopTenBadgeKudos to Scott Johns, a Contributing Editor, for being recognized by Texas Bar Today as one of its top 10 blog posts. If you missed his post on February 7th , you can find it here: Bar Success Tips for the Final Two Weeks.

February 17, 2019 in Academic Support Spotlight | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Guest Blogger Kirsha Trychta: Takeaways from the LSAC/NCBE Recent Conference

Takeaways from “Best Practices in High-Stakes Testing” Conference

On February 7–8, 2019, the National Conference of Bar Examiners and the Law School Admission Council co-hosted a conference entitled “Best Practices in High Stakes Testing: What Legal Educators Need to Know.”  The conference consisted of a welcome reception on Thursday evening, three plenary presentations on Friday morning, and a choice of breakout sessions on Friday afternoon.

After Friday’s opening remarks—which included a nod to academic support pioneer Paula Lustbader—psychometrician Gage Kingsbury explained the difference between admissions testing and licensure testing.  Admissions testing is characterized by its lack of a minimum “passing” score and its need for a high level of reliability across a wide range of performances.  (Here, the LSAT.)  Meanwhile, a licensure exam typically follows a program of instruction, and includes a pre-identified passing score.  In addition, a licensure test must possess a high reliability that the pass/no pass line is properly drawn.  (Here, the bar exam.) 

Both types of exams should possess not only a strong case for the validity of their use, but also the fairness of their use.  Validity, in this context, means that the test is being used for an appropriate purpose.  (Validity is not the same thing as reliability; reliability is the likelihood that the examination will produce consistent scores over time for all takers in the normal range of performance).   Fairness, however, is more complicated.  Most psychometricians agree that a test need not ensure that all subgroups (e.g. Caucasians and Latinos) score the same, but that the test should be equally reliable and equally valid for all subgroups. 

Dr. Kingsbury highlighted how the term “high stakes” is frequently misused by the testing community.  Almost every test is high stakes for someone; the key is to recognize for whom.  Is the test high stakes for the test taker, the testing agency, the educators, the community, or some combination of stakeholders?  The more stakeholders who are impacted by the results of the examination, then the higher the stakes.  Moreover, a real issue arises when the examination is high stakes for one population, but not for another.  For example, a statistical “terminal disaster” occurred with the “No Child Left Behind” testing model because the examination was very high stakes for the educators, but a no-stakes examination for the test taker. 

He concluded with a quick tip: When crafting high stakes examinations, drafters should pay attention to how much information is being tested per minute of examination—the answer to this question will aid the drafter in determining which testing format (e.g. essay, multiple-choice) is best equipped to achieve the drafter’s goal.

Next, Professor James Wollack of the University of Wisconsin-Madison discussed the “Implications of Standardization: Test Security for LSAT and Bar Exam.”  More specifically, his talk focused on exam cheating in the academic setting.

Shockingly, 68% of undergraduate students nationwide admitted to cheating at least once during the academic year.  Of those who admitted to cheating, 85% believed cheating was essential to their academic success, 90% didn’t believe they would get caught, and, in fact, 95% did not get caught.  To put all these numbers in perspective, a website which enables students to purchase original pre-written term papers and projects receives 8,000 unique hits each day.

In the admissions test context, over the last decade (virtually) all the major testing industries (e.g. SAT, ACT, MCAT, GMAT, TOEFL) experienced documented incidents of cheating.  For example, one student foolishly placed a craigslist ad seeking a surrogate to take his LSAT exam for him.  Additionally, across the licensure credentialing industry, cheating is widespread (e.g. radiologist, school bus drivers, sommeliers, and the list goes on).  Regarding the bar exam, a member of the NCBE disclosed that six different jurisdictions reported “testing irregularities” regarding 30 different candidates last year on the bar examination.

Professor Wollack identified five factors that impact whether a person will cheat on an examination: (1) the stakes of the examination, (2) the examinee’s predisposition, (3) the perceived need to cheat, (4) the opportunity to cheat, and (5) the perceived punishment if caught.  Specifically, potential cheaters begin by weighing the pros/cons of cheating, asking themselves questions like: “Will an important decision be made with this particular test score?  Will I get a benefit for a good score?  Will I likely be punished for a bad score?”  The examinee will then weigh those answers against his or her own personal moral compass.  Generally, society is becoming more and more tolerant of cheating.  Third, the student will likely weigh their perception of how well they will perform on the exam relative to the target score without cheating.   Essentially, they will ask themselves, “Can I pass without cheating?”  He stressed that this step is tied to the student’s own self-assessment or perception and is not based on actual objective indicators of success.  Fourth, the student will assess whether there will be an opportunity to cheat.  Do the test conditions allow for fraud?  Professor Wollack stressed that anything proctors allow in the testing room is an area of vulnerability.  In fact, there is an entire industry devoted to cheating enabled clothing (e.g. earbuds designed as earrings, cameras in glasses and shirt buttons).  Cell phones, however, are the single biggest threat, especially students who utilize a two-phone system: a decoy phone voluntarily surrendered to the proctor at the start of the test and a secreted cheater phone.  Lastly, the student will weigh their perception of what will happen to them if caught against the potential for reward or gain. 

The definitive source for test administration guidance, including security standards, is the “Joint Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing” manual.  The book explains that the examinee’s behavior is influenced by many environmental and administrative factors.  Therefore, examiners are wise to manage these conditions thoughtfully.  The manual explains, that when designing a test, developers should adopt a comprehensive approach to test security at all phases of the test, beginning at test development, and continuing through messaging with candidates, delivery, post-exam web monitoring, and statistical detection for indicia of test fraud.  When a departure from any protocol occurs, the departure must be meticulously documented to ward against fraud.

In response to an attendee’s question, Professor Wollack advised that it was worthwhile to share large scale grading rubrics and testing outcomes with students (especially for purposes of formative assessment), without fear of jeopardizing the test security.  Meanwhile, granular level rubrics should be safeguarded, if the test is going to be re-used again in the future.  He concluded his presentation by quoting Julie Andrews, suggesting that amateur [test proctors] practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.”

Immediately before lunch, panelists William Adams  (ABA Deputy Managing Director), Gage Kingsbury (psychometrician consultant), and Mark Raymond (psychometrician at the NCBE) discussed ABA Standard 314 and explained “How Formative and Summative Assessments differ from a Standardized Admission Test (LSAT) and a Licensure (Bar Exam).”  The panelists outlined the need for various types of assessment and explained the pros and cons of the different types of assessment.  Much of what was mentioned in this hour is very familiar to academic support professionals but was undoubtedly helpful to the other folks in the audience.  The most popular piece of advice during this hour came from Dr. Raymond.  He suggested that to draft quality “distractor” answers to multiple-choice question, the professor should first ask the question as an open-ended response question.  Then, on a later test administration, take the most popular wrong answers supplied by the students and use those responses in the newly-converted multiple choice question. 

After the lunch break, attendees could choose from four breakout sessions: formative assessment, LSAT scoring, bar exam scoring, or fairness issues in standardized testing. 

In the bar exam scoring session, Kellie Early began by describing the three major components of the exam.  She then explained how each multiple-choice question undergoes a three-year vetting process, which includes soliciting feedback from recently barred attorneys.  (As an aside, the LSAC also uses a three-year timeline for launching new questions on the LSAT.)  Meanwhile, essay questions are not vetted in advance of a testing administration because they are too memorable and thus subject to security breaches.  All MBE and written questions are selected for inclusion on the examination in the 8 to 18 months before the exam administration.  The examination booklets are formally printed about two months prior to the administration and shipped to the local jurisdictions in the final month. 

Next, Douglas Ripkey explained the difference between the terms raw score, scaled score, equating (MBE), and scaling (written component).  Equating refers to the statistical process of determining comparable scores on different exam forms, while scaling is the process of placing written scores on the same scales as the MBE.  To equate the MBE, the NCBE relies upon a subset of previously used questions (a.k.a. equators) to establish a baseline of proficiency over time for each testing group.  To scale the written component, the NCBE relies upon the belief that there is a strong correlation between performance on the MBE and performance on the written components.  First, one must determine the mean and standard deviation of MBE scores in the testing group.  Next, one must determine the mean and standard deviation of the written scores.  Lastly, using z-score statistics, the NCBE “rescales the essay scores so that they have a mean and standard deviation that is the same as the MBE mean and standard deviation.”  He likened the process to converting Fahrenheit degrees to Celsius degrees, with each measurement system using shared anchor points such as the temperature at which water boils and water freezes.  Mr. Ripkey concluded by stating that statistically speaking all applicants could “pass” the bar examination in any testing administration.

In the last hour of the conference, participants could choose from workshops exploring formative assessment techniques, the future of the LSAT, the future of the bar exam, or fairness issues in standardized testing. 

In the fairness workshop, Dr. Mark Raymond (psychometrician at the NCBE) and Ben Theis (test developer at LSAC) explained how high-stakes test makers handle fairness concerns.  Typically, test developers look for bias in three places (i) at the test question level, (ii) at the test score level, and (iii) at the decision level. 

LSAC employs two separate dedicated “fairness” reviews, one by an external committee and one in-house.  Once the questions are included on the pre-test section of the LSAT, LSAC tracks the question’s statistical analyses.  The developers are using the “pre-test” section of the LSAC to vet these questions with a diverse testing group.  Then they look for “residual” differences or “DIF” on a scatter plot.  Plainly stated, individuals with the same objective criteria (male, aged Y, with X degree) should both perform equally well on the exam.  If they don’t, then the developers look to see if race or gender could account for the statistical difference.  LSAC employs a “presume unfairness” mentality for any questionable item.  If the item exhibits any unfairness qualities, the item is discarded permanently without further evaluation,

LSAC revealed that minorities are over predicted on the LSAT.  In other words—more frequently than is true for other populations—the minority student’s LSAT score suggests that the student will perform better in law school than they do.  While more research is needed, the findings suggest that for some reason minority students are under performing in law school despite solid LSAT scores. 

To summarize, this one-day conference exposed the numerous attendees (including law school deans, faculty, academic support and bar exam specialists, and admissions personnel) to a solid foundation in the hot topics associated with standardized testing in legal education. 

(Kirsha Trychta, Guest Blogger)

February 16, 2019 in Guest Column | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Assistant Director Position at Oklahoma City

Posting Link

Assistant Director of Academic Achievement

Tracking Code


Job Description

Position Summary: The Assistant Director supports the Academic Achievement department to train law students for the rigor of law school, the bar exam, and the practice of law with academic workshops, courses, and individual coaching.  The Assistant Director will primarily design and implement workshops for students from pre-matriculation through the second year, supervise Academic Fellows, and provide individual tutoring throughout law school and preparation for the bar exam. 

The Assistant Director reports to the Director of Academic Achievement and collaborates with the Student Success Team in other law school departments.  The Assistant Director is a member of the School of Law staff.  Qualified candidates will be eligible for a faculty appointment as an Instructor.    

Essential Functions: 

Demonstrate an attitude that reflects the mission and values of the University and School of Law.

  • Collaborate with the Director of Academic Achievement to refine, improve, coordinate and direct the program of academic achievement including, but not limited to the summer admissions program, the academic support program, and the bar preparation program.
  • Design and implement academic support programming for first-year students, including skills workshops, the academic fellow program, and outreach to at-risk students. 
  • Collaborates as a member of the Student Success Team to provide programming and support for the overall goal of improving student success.
  • Work with the faculty to integrate academic support programming into first-year classes.
  • Coordinate and provide tutoring to students in one-on-one and group settings.
  • Develop, coordinate, evaluate, and monitor remediation/study plans and activities for individual students.
  • Develop, evaluate, and administer the Academic Fellow program, including supervising the academic fellows.
  • Coordinate with other departments on student success initiatives, including implementing individual student success plans.
  • Teach skills focused courses as assigned by the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
  • Other duties as assigned

Physical Requirements: 

  • Must be able to bend, stoop, and reach.
  • Manual dexterity to efficiently operate a computer keyboard and other business machines.
  • Near vision sufficient to read written communications and computer display screens.
  • Adequate hearing to communicate effectively in person and by phone.
  • Must use computer keyboard at least four to six hours per day.

Work Conditions:

  • Work is primarily indoors, but requires the incumbent to be in an outdoor environment when traveling between campus buildings or off campus.
  • Standard office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, but evening hours are also required.
  • Occasional attendance at weekend events is required.
  • Off-campus, state and regional travel is required.
  • Incumbent will be exposed to frequent noise caused by telephones and office machines. 

Required Skills

License to practice law in one of the United States or the District of Columbia

  • Excellent academic record (transcripts will be submitted with application materials)
  • Superior written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills (writing sample will be submitted with application materials)
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Demonstrated proficiency with technology including MS Office Suite, Internet, common software/applications and the ability to acquire new technology quickly
  • Commitment to working with a diverse population of students, faculty and staff
  • Sensitivity to students with varied learning styles, disabilities, backgrounds, etc.
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Ability to build and maintain a rapport with students
  • Skill in presenting information, presentations and delivering instruction
  • Ability to collaborate effectively with School of Law faculty and administrators
  • Proficiency at project management, planning, and developing goals.

Required Experience

A Juris Doctor degree from an ABA accredited law school is required. A minimum of six months of experience is required.  Experience should be in the areas of academic advising, academic support, teaching (adjunct instruction accepted), and/or tutoring within an ABA accredited law school.

A suitable combination of education and experience may be substituted for minimum requirements.

Job Location

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Position Type


Position Grade


FLSA Status


Benefit Eligibility

Available at full-time university rates

Position Closing Date

Open until filled

Additional Required Application Materials

List of Professional References, CV or Resume, Cover Letter

Special Instructions to Applicants


Scheduled Hours

Standard office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday; some overtime may be required.

Number of months per year

12 months

February 15, 2019 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Correction to NKU Postion Link

We have been notified that the link we were given to the Director of Student Success Initiatives position description last week (posting on Saturday, February 9th) was incorrect. The correct link is Director of Student Success Initiatives NKU.

February 15, 2019 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Learning from the Charcoal Burners

Never let it be said that the stuck-in-bed-flat-on-your-back flu doesn't have its consolations. For me, there was the comfort of a kitty snuggling next to me and of the faithful dog taking his post by the bedroom door. There was the sure knowledge that being infectious gave me a temporary pass from committees and meetings, and that my sluggish mental condition made it unthinkable for me to tackle reports, spreadsheets, or even e-mails. But perhaps the greatest consolation was the ability to unabashedly indulge in one of my great pleasures, reading children's books.

I was lucky enough to have close at hand Alison Larkin's splendid audio recording of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons. For those unfamiliar with this gentle classic, Swallows and Amazons follows the simple adventures of the "Swallows" or four Walker children (and their friends and rivals, the two Blackett "Amazons") as they sail, explore, camp, and meet "the natives" during their summer holiday in the English Lake District. In Chapter 13, the Walker children took an expedition to the west shore of the lake, where they met the local charcoal-burners, "Young Billy" (in his 70s) and "Old Billy" (in his 90s).

For those unfamiliar with this ancient craft, charcoal burning is the practice of carbonizing wood so that it will produce hot, clean-burning charcoal. First, woodcutters would carefully choose the correct fuel, wielding their axes to cut down huge piles of branches, small trees, and undergrowth. Then they would carefully layer these woody materials (taking into account the moisture content, diameter, density, and other characteristics), cover with an airtight layer of earth and moss, and build a controlled, slowly-burning fire which would last for days or weeks. Charcoal burners had to tend their piles night and day -- too little oxygen and the fire would smolder and expire, leaving only charred wood; too much oxygen and the fuel would be entirely consumed, leaving nothing but ashes.

In our novel, when the Walkers arrived at the charcoal-burners' encampment, they spied Young Billy carefully tending his charcoal mound:

A man with a spade was patting the mound and putting a spadeful of earth wherever the smoke showed. Sometimes he climbed on the mound itself to smother a jet of smoke near the top of it. As soon as he closed one hole another jet of smoke would show itself somewhere else. . . .

A big puff of smoke rolled from the burning mound.

"Look there," said Young Billy. "Can't leave him a minute but he's out. . . ." He picked up his spade and went to the mound, where a small tongue of flame was licking a hole from inside. He put a spadeful of earth on the hole and patted it down. . . . "We want ours to burn good and slow," said Young Billy. "If he burns fast he leaves nowt but ash. The slower the fire the better the charcoal."

The charcoal mound is a good metaphor for life. Holes will always pop up, given the vicissitudes of life. We may be on top of our law school studies, but there are dirty clothes in the laundry hamper or we haven't made it to the dentist this year. And as soon as we patch one hole -- for example, we create a good system for doing the laundry as we study criminal law -- another hole pops up: maybe now we haven't changed the oil in the van or we forgot to pick up the dog's medication.  How many times have we berated ourselves for not being in complete control of our lives? Prudence suggests it's wise to accept that holes not only can crop up in our lives, but will pop up. Accepting this, we can forgive ourselves for that most human of conditions -- not being perfect.

Moreover, the charcoal-burner Young Billy is as good a mentor as one is likely to find anywhere.  If we are hard-working and conscientious, we'll create excellent charcoal mounds (a/k/a outlines/case briefs/appellate briefs/lesson plans/curriculum proposals . . . ). And if our mounds are the result of so much good work, we naturally think we ought to be able to light them on fire and walk away, secure in the knowledge that our efforts will result in excellent charcoal with no further effort on our part. But even the best-laid plans need tending. There is no moment of perfection in which we can be secure and rest on our laurels. Rather, a hole will develop even in the best-created mound, meaning that we will need to pat down a spadeful of earth to make our mound secure -- and this will happen again, and again, and again. In his 70s, Young Billy was the most patient of professionals. However good his mound, he knew holes would develop. Rather than grow frustrated or angry, he paced himself, patting earth against one hole, then patiently patting over the next hole as it developed; in this almost meditative approach, he knew that his patient, consistent practice would over the long haul create consistently good charcoal -- and a good life in which he could be both excellent in his craft and a good neighbor to friends and curious children alike. And that's a pretty good recipe for being a lawyer, too.

(Nancy Luebbert)


February 13, 2019 in Encouragement & Inspiration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 11, 2019

Compounding Effect in Law School

If I offered you a choice between 3 million dollars today or a penny today with double the amount each subsequent day for 31 days (ie - .01 today, .02 tomorrow, .04 next days, etc.), which would you take?  In a small experiment, over 90% of people took the lump sum.  A penny doubled every day over 31 days will net over 10 million dollars.  However, that choice doesn’t beat the 3 million lump sum until day 30.  Day 31 is when it crushes the lump sum by over 7 million dollars.  The reason is the compounding effect.

The compounding effect is a common strategy for financial planning.  Starting to save for retirement at age 20 makes a huge difference.  Darren Hardy in his book The Compounding Effect applied the theory to life beyond finances to argue all of us can make dramatic changes in our careers and how we live.  He argues the small choices we make consistently are the foundation for dramatically changing our life. 

Small choices seem trivial.  One of my favorite examples in his book relates to weight gain/loss.  He illustrates the choices of 3 hypothetical people.  1 person continues to do the same thing he has always done.  He is the constant.  1 person decreases calories by only 125 calories a day.  125 calories is the equivalent of a bowl of some cereal or a can of Dr. Pepper.  The last person increases calories by 125 calories a day.  The small decisions didn’t seem to make much difference in the first 6-12 months.  Only small variations in weight.  However, from month 12-18, the first person is losing weight and the last person is gaining significant weight.  By the end of 2 years, the first person loses 30 pounds while the last person gains 30 pounds.  There is a 60 pound difference based on 1 coke a day!

The weight example and other examples in the book illustrate the difficulty of applying the compounding effect to our lives.  Choosing to not drink a coke today will not change the scale tomorrow.  Eating 1 donut or a meal at Chik-fil-a will not change the scale tomorrow.  We don’t perceive the benefits or consequences of small choices immediately, so many people choose the more fun donut.  Over time, 125 calories can snowball from weight to other areas of life, like health problems and relationships with friends and family.  The good news is the good choices snowball as well, and we should start considering what small changes to make in law school.

Law school epitomizes the problem of no immediate positive reinforcement.  Reviewing course material today doesn’t produce a grade.  Doing practice questions each week won’t have an immediate impact.  Playing the Xbox or going out with friends provides the immediate dopamine rush without the perception of consequences. 

Small changes now can make an impact at the end of this semester and future semesters.  I want to provide numerous examples and tips for improvement.  However, just as my pastor said yesterday, if I give you 4 things to do, you will do none of them.  If I give you 1, then you may do it because you can easily integrate 1 thing into your routine.  Hardy encourages the same thing.  Start small.  Pick 1 small thing to improve learning.

My suggestion is a small review each night.  Learning literature indicates we immediately begin forgetting material.  We can improve retention with immediate review within 24 hours and periodic review throughout a semester at progressively longer intervals.  Each night, review the material from that day and the previous day.  Summarize the information into your own words and think about where it fits in the outline.  Don’t spend numerous hours on this task.  Start small and move up. 

Compounding makes theoretical sense.  However, many of us make small choices that are compounding negatively.  Choose something small today to compound in the right direction.  Remember, you will not see immediately results.  Consistency is what will produce the outcome you desire.

(Steven Foster)

February 11, 2019 in Exams - Studying, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Call for Proposals for 2020 AALS Section on Academic Support

Call for Proposals
AALS Section on Academic Support
January 2020 Annual Meeting in Washington, DC
"Access to the Legal Profession as a Pillar of Democracy: Bar Exam Cut Scores and the Future of Diversity."

As a community, we are aware that bar passage rates are falling in some jurisdictions, and the ABA recently proposed a change Standard 316 on Bar Passage, which would require schools to achieve 75% bar pass rate within two years of graduation. While this proposal did not pass, the current passage rates still have the potential to severely impact law schools that prioritize a mission of diversifying the legal field by preparing lawyers from underrepresented groups. Moreover, in the profession itself, access to legal education, and the profession, is a pillar of democracy. This program will focus on how to better support students who are at risk of not passing the bar exam.

Topics might include, but are not limited to: student engagement on the bar exam, the impact of the UBE on cut scores, programming to support diverse students in their law school courses, programming to support diverse students while preparing for the bar exam, the role of stereotype threat on the bar exam, and the impact of the changing ABA rules on a diverse student population. Proposals should reflect presentations that will be 25 minutes in length.

Proposals should contain a detailed explanation of both the substance of the presentation and the methods to be employed. Individuals as well as groups are invited to propose topics. The Committee would prefer to highlight talent across a spectrum of law schools and disciplines and is especially interested in new and innovative ideas. Please share this call with colleagues—both within and outside of the legal academy and the academic support community.

Proposals must include the following information:
1. A title for your presentation.
2. A brief description of the objectives or outcomes of your presentation.
3. A brief description of how your presentation will support your stated objectives or outcomes.
4. A detailed description of both the substantive content and the techniques to be employed, if any, to engage the audience.
5. Whether you plan to distribute handouts, use PowerPoint, or employ other technology.
6. A list of the conferences at which you have presented within the last three years, such as AALS, AASE, national or regional ASP or writing conferences, or other academic
conferences. (The Committee is interested in this information because we wish to select and showcase seasoned, as well as fresh, talent.)
7. Your school affiliation, title, courses taught, and contact information (please include email address and telephone number).
8. Any other information you think will help the Committee appreciate the value your presentation will provide.

Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, so please send yours as soon as possible, but no later than Wednesday, May 1st at 5pm to Melissa Hale, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, If you have any questions, please email Melissa Hale.

The Section on Academic Support Program Committee:
Melissa Hale, Chair
Robert Coulthard
Maryann Hermann
Twinette Johnson
Jamie Kleppetsch
Danielle Kocal
Susan Landrum
Courtney Lee
Laura Mott
Zoe Niesel
Goldie Pritchard
Louis Schulze
Joni Wiredu
ASP Section Chair: Jennifer Carr

February 10, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Director of Student Success Initiatives Position at NKU - Chase

Director of Student Success Initiatives

Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law 

Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase College of Law invites applications for the position of Director of Student Success Initiatives, with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2019.  This is a full-time, non-tenure-track position, and it covers both academic support and bar preparation.   

The Director’s primary responsibility will be to work with students to help them develop the skills needed to reach their full academic potential for performance in law school and on the bar exam.  Responsibilities include: (1) designing and implementing academic support programs; (2) designing and assisting with the law school’s bar exam preparation programs; (3) possibly teaching the law school’s third-year bar preparation course each semester; and (4) possibly teaching the two-semester Legal Studies course for NKU Chase’s evening students.  The Director will also supervise the Assistant Director of Student Success Initiatives.  Candidates must be willing to work some evenings. 

Applicants must have a J.D., a strong academic record, excellent organizational and interpersonal skills, the ability to work collaboratively, and excellent communication skills. Experience in a law school academic support program or other relevant teaching experience is preferred. Candidates should also have an understanding of the dynamics of diversity (including first-generation college graduates) in higher education and a demonstrated ability to incorporate this understanding, as appropriate, in all levels of their work.  Salary will be commensurate with experience, but we anticipate the salary being between $75,000 and $80,000 (plus full benefits) per 12-month year. 

Founded in 1893, the Salmon P. Chase College of Law has for 125 years provided service to students and the legal community throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky and across the Ohio River to Cincinnati and southwest Ohio. Long known as the “The Lawyer’s School,” Chase has served both traditional and non-traditional students throughout its history.  Chase is fully approved by the ABA and is a member of the AALS.  More information about Chase may be found at  Application materials (cover letter, CV, law school transcript, and a list of three professional references) should be submitted through the Northern Kentucky University website (

Any questions can be addressed to Lawrence D. Rosenthal, Associate Dean for Academics, at  The application period will remain open until the position is filled. The committee will start reviewing applications on February 28.

It is Northern Kentucky University’s policy to ensure equal employment opportunity for all persons and to take the necessary actions needed to recruit, employ, train, promote, and retain qualified faculty and staff, including members of protected groups. Discrimination against any individual based upon protected status, which is defined as age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, or genetic or veteran status, is prohibited.


February 9, 2019 in Jobs - Descriptions & Announcements | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 8, 2019

Guest Blogger Post 6 - Louis Schulze: "Don't Even THINK About Using Supplements" Part Four

In my last post, I argued that banning all external sources of learning, so-called “supplements,” undermines students’ crucial use of self-regulated learning and decreases students’ perceived autonomy support.  This, in turn, weakens learning.  This time around, I will discuss how blanket bans on external sources deprive students of one of the most powerful tools in a learner’s arsenal:  “The Testing Effect.”

Legal education as a whole seems to treat testing as a tool strictly for use in formative and summative assessment.  If we want students to “see where they are at” during the semester, we use testing.  If we want to give students a grade, we use testing.  So conceived, testing serves only to assess and not much else; it serves to evaluate learning and not to create knowledge, per se.  In 2006, Roediger & Karpicke noted that although this view is patently wrong, it nonetheless pervades many areas of education.

But scores of studies show that testing is one of the best ways to construct, comprehend, and retain knowledge.  Since as far back as 1909, scholars have demonstrated the superiority of testing over “restudying,” and empirical inquiry into this phenomenon has flourished in the last 15 years.  For instance, in 2007, McDaniel and colleagues found that both short answer and multiple choice quizzes significantly enhanced learning to a greater degree than additional reading, even though the quizzes did not directly target the exact material tested on the final assessment. 

Moreover, in a 2010 study, Buttler concluded that the testing effect enhanced performance even on subsequent tests where “transfer” was necessary.  In other words, the assessment test required students to apply their learned knowledge to unfamiliar contexts.  This finding is thus particularly relevant to the study of law, where students must learn to analogize the facts of one case to a new fact pattern.    

Perhaps the skeptic might say:  “Fine.  Testing is learning.  But, law professors do not have the time to write, grade, and give feedback on so many tests.”  Quite true, but I am not advocating for a regime in which law professors provide the testing.  The theme of my scholarship is that we should empower students to teach themselves and not let students outsource the responsibility of learning to us.  (I would even argue that self-testing is more optimal given its necessary attachment to metacognition and self-regulated learning.)  Luckily, it just so happens that the testing effect is a stronger learning tool than re-study even if self-provided and even if it lacks feedback.  In other words, even though faculty provision of the testing is beneficial and enhances the testing effect, professors need not be involved in the process necessarily. 

That brings us to the topic of banning outside sources of learning.  If we want to heed the extensive empirical evidence of the superiority of the testing effect, but we are unable to provide students with the essential resources, blanket bans on outside materials necessarily deprive students of the testing effect.  Students are then left with the sole recourse of re-reading notes and outlines, which all available evidence shows is a substantially less effective learning method.  We are therefore actively undermining student learning and sending a normative message about how future study (such as bar exam preparation) should be carried out. 

As a result of all this, I suggest that faculty point students in the direction of quality self-testing resources while steering them away from sources that lack quality.  I will take up the problem of resource quality in my next post which will also discuss counterarguments to my claim that faculty should not enact blanket bans on outside sources of learning.  


February 8, 2019 in Guest Column | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Bar Success Tips for the Final Two Weeks Before the Bar Exam

Recently, I heard a discussion suggesting that bar passers do things differently in the final two weeks than those who are not successful on the bar exam.  That got me thinking about what I've been seeing, at least anecdotally, in my 10-plus years working with students in preparing for their bar exams.

First, both groups tend to work extraordinarily hard in the last two weeks before their bar exams.  So, what's the difference?  It must be in the type of work that the two groups are doing.  In short, during the final two weeks, it seems to me that bar passers tend to ramp up their practice with lots and lots of MBE questions and essays [while also creating super-short compact homespun study tools (2-3-page outlines, flashcards, or posters)].  In contrast, people who find themselves unsuccessful tend to focus on creating extra-bulky study tools and trying to memorize those study tools with very little continued practice of MBE questions and essays. In brief, one group is continuing to practice for the exam and the other group is focused on memorizing for the exam.  

But, here's the rub:

It’s a perfectly natural feeling during the final two weeks of bar prep to want to focus solely (or mostly) on creating perfect study tools and trying to perfectly memorize all the law. 

But, according to the educational psychologists, there’s something called “useful forgetfulness.”  You see, when we jam packet our study tools with everything, we aren’t learning much of anything because we haven’t had to make any hard decisions about what to let go (what to “forget”).  We’re just typing or handwriting or flowcharting like a scribe. But, when we purposefully decide that we are only going to make a super-short “starter” study tools (knowing that we can always add more rules as we work through more questions during the next couple of weeks), our decisions about what to put in our super-short study tools (and what to leave out) means that we actually empower ourselves to know both what we put in our study tools (and what we left out).

As a suggestion, tackle two subjects per day – one subject that is essay-only and one subject tested on both the essay and the MBE exam.  Starting with one subject in the morning, using the most compact outline that your commercial course provides (and referencing the table of contents for each subject), create a super-short study tool with the goal of completing your study tool in 2 hours or less. 

Here’s a tip: 

If you think that you need a rule, don’t put it in because you can always add more later. Instead, only add a rule that you’ve seen countless times over and over. Just get it done.  Move quickly.  Don’t get stuck with definitions of elements, etc.  Stick with the big picture umbrella rules.  Think BIG picture.  For example, be determined to get through all of contracts in 2 hours (from what law governs to remedies).  As a suggestion, have just one rule for each item in the table of contents for your commercial bar review outline.  Don't go deep sea diving.  Stay on the surface.  Then, in the remainder of the morning, work with your study tool through a handful of practice essays.  In the afternoon, repeat the same tasks using a different subject (creating a snappy study tool and working through a few essays).  Finally, in the evening, work through mixed sets of MBE questions. 

In the last week before the bar exam, with most of your starter study tools completed, focus on talking through your study tool (for about one hour or so) and then working through lots and lots essay problems and MBE questions. As you practice in the last week, feel free to add rules that come up in practice essays and MBE questions to your study tool.  As I heard one person explain it, your study tool becomes sort of a "bar diary" of your adventurous travels through essays and MBE questions (thanks Prof. Micah Yarbrough!).  In short, you've created a study tool that has been time-tested and polished through the hard knock experiences of working and learning through lots of bar exam hypothetical problems.  

So, for those of you taking the February 2019 bar exam, focus on practice first and foremost because you aren't going to be tested on your study tool.  Rather, you're going to be testing on whether you can use your study tool to solve hypothetical problems.  And, good luck on your bar exam! (Scott Johns).

P.S. For those taking the Uniform Bar Exam, there are 12 subjects as grouped by the bar examiners (I think there are 14 subjects in California, depending on how you count subjects):

* Business Associations (Corporations, Agency, Partnership, and LLC)

* Secured Transactions

* Federal Civil Procedure

* Family Law

* Wills & Trusts

* Conflicts of Law

* Contracts/Sales

* Constitutional Law

* Criminal Law & Procedure

* Evidence

* Property

* Torts


February 7, 2019 in Advice, Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams, Exams - Theory, Learning Styles, Stress & Anxiety, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Keeping Our Students in the Game

Watching the Super Bowl on Sunday made me think of my students.  By no means am I implying any similarity between football and the legal profession.  After all, one is a grueling slugfest, featuring breathlessly intense clashes between aggressive competitors on behalf of highly partisan, sometimes even fanatically tribal, stakeholders, with pride and sometimes lots of money at stake.  The other is just an athletic contest.

No, the reason I thought of my students was the sudden shift in the game in the fourth quarter.  Through the first 50 minutes or so of play, the scores remained unusually low and very close.  Neither team could gain a clear advantage, and with less than ten minutes remaining, the score was still only 3 to 3.  Across the country, spectators were complaining about how stagnant and boring the game seemed.

Suddenly, within a minute or so of game time, everything changed.  The Patriots called a play in which a receiver wound up open in the middle of the field, just beyond the Rams' defensive line, and Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady deftly passed the ball to him and gained several yards.  By itself, the play was only mildly exciting, and then only because it provided comparatively more action than most of the preceding gameplay.  But the Patriots realized right away that the Rams' defense, which up until that time had been pretty successful at confining the Patriots' forward motion, had not had anything in place to keep that lone receiver from appearing unguarded behind the defensive line.  So for the next few plays, the Patriots ran essentially the same play, except for choosing a different receiver to run up the field each time.  In the space of four plays, the team moved all the way down the field and set up the winning touchdown run.

From the Rams' point of view, everything was fine, until suddenly it wasn't.  They were basically evenly matched with their opponents, in a game that looked like it might go into overtime -- and then, in less than a minute, everything fell apart.  One weakness was exposed -- one play that they had no planned defense for -- and before they could adjust to it, the other side had taken advantage of that weakness and taken a significant lead.  And the fact that they were in that distressing position left the team vulnerable to more trouble.  They rushed and ran riskier plays, hoping to score their own tying touchdown in the short time they had left, and under this pressure the Rams' quarterback Jared Goff accidentally threw the ball into the hands of a Patriots defender, leading the Patriots to score an additional three points.  The Rams went from having an even chance of winning to having no chance, all because of one weakness that wasn't addressed quickly enough.

In his fascinating book How We Die, the physician Sherwin B. Nuland explained that human death often follows a similar trajectory.  Laypeople often imagine that those suffering from serious injury or illness usually experience a long but steady decline until they pass away.  However, Nuland pointed out that at least as often, if not more so, the afflicted person manages the illness (or injury, if it is not so catastrophic that it simply kills them right away) fairly handily, with only slight decline or sometimes even with improvement, for days or even weeks.  If nothing bad happens, then they might even make a full recovery.  But if one thing goes wrong and isn't corrected quickly enough, it can cause significant damage, which itself leads to additional life-threatening complications, and in a short time the patient may spiral down past the point where any medical intervention will be enough to save him.  An infected wound, for example, if not treated quickly enough, can lead to a generalized blood infection, which can cause a patient's kidneys, liver, and other organs to stop working properly, and the patient, who otherwise might have almost completely recovered from his initial injury, will die of multiple organ failure.

We see the same phenomenon in other realms than just sports and medicine, such as business and politics.  In any complicated system, there can be long, steady declines, but the sudden drastic reversal, attributable to one or a small number of neglected infirmities, is often more likely.

And the life of a law student is pretty complicated.  New information to learn, new ways to think about it, new tasks to perform, all while juggling stress and ambition and self-doubt and mountains of practicalities like housing and relationships and (painfully often) finances.  We all know that a few students struggle right from the start, but very often students will be managing -- holding their own, even if not excelling -- and then they run into one tribulation they can't fix, and they can't handle.  A course they can't wrap their head around.  A romantic breakup.  Lack of funds to buy textbooks.  A death in the family.  An extracurricular activity that takes up too much time.

It almost doesn't matter what the problem is, because it's just the trigger.  It starts the landslide that could pull the student down.  Struggling in one course, for example, could pull the student's attention away from his other courses, leading to anxiety about not maintaining his GPA . . . and what started as one problem spirals into multiple problems.

The response, from an Academic Success perspective, has to be twofold.  First, we need to be able to detect these kinds of issues as early as possible, before they turn into the equivalent of a touchdown by the other team or a raging blood infection.  We need to have direct interaction with the students most at risk (incoming students, first-generation students, those in danger of financial difficulty, etc.), so we get to know them and encourage them to be forthcoming.  We also need to develop strong networks among those in the faculty and student services who might pass along observations of possible distress.

Second, we need to have systems in place to help these students address these issues quickly, before they do become intractable.  We are expected, of course, to handle purely academic issues on a moment's notice.  But we should also be familiar with other means of support on campus and in the community, to be able to quickly refer students who need help in financial, psychological, spiritual, and other realms. 

Time sometimes really is of the essence.  None of us want to end up being Monday-morning quarterbacks, lamenting that if we had just changed our defense one play sooner, we could have saved the game.

(Bill MacDonald)

February 5, 2019 in Advice, Books, Encouragement & Inspiration, Exams - Studying, Miscellany, Sports, Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Use the Simulated MBE Results for Improvement

One of my favorite sports commercials is the Nike Commercial with Michael Jordan below.


Bar takers can learn a valuable lesson from Jordan.  Arguably the greatest basketball player of all time failed constantly.  However, he didn’t let failure define him.  He used failure to learn how to get better.  Learning from the failure of the simulated MBE will be critical for success in a few weeks.

The simulated MBE is not a confidence boosting experience for most bar takers.  Many students from around the country will feel defeated and not know what to do between now and the bar exam.  My first suggestion is to take the results as an opportunity to learn where to improve.  If you missed 100 questions, then you have 100 opportunities to get better before the next test.  The goal isn’t to be perfect right now (or ever).  The goal is to get enough correct at the end of February to be sworn in.  That goal is still achievable.

After putting the test into perspective, develop a plan.  All the bar review companies produce a good score report.  I suggest identifying small sub-topics within each subject to study for a few minutes each night.  Finding significant time during the day for extra studying is near impossible.  However, 15 minutes right before bed to look at a handful of rules is possible.  Identify highly tested subtopics where you didn’t get many questions correct.  Spend 15-20 minutes each night on a subtopic.  Switch subjects each day.  With 21 days of studying left, everyone can make it through 3 subtopics per MBE subject. 

My other suggestion is to add a small set of MBE questions to each day.  Many of the bar review companies have small sets of questions in the subtopics.  Do a set of questions in one of the subtopics each day.  Don’t do the set of questions in the same subtopic that you study that night.  Rotating to different areas helps with long term retention. 

I know the simulated MBE was tough, and everyone wanted to get more questions correct.  Many students get knocked down on the test.  The question is what will you do after you get knocked down.  Watch the 2008 600m Big 10 Championship below.


There is still a lap left in bar prep.  What are you going to do?

(Steven Foster)

February 4, 2019 in Encouragement & Inspiration, Study Tips - General | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, February 3, 2019

NY Academic Support Workshop Announcement

Dear ASP friends,

We are pleased to announce this year’s full-day NY Academic Support Workshop, to be held from 9:30 to 5:00 at New York Law School on Friday, April 12th (with informal socializing afterwards). This will be a gathering of academic support professionals and colleagues working actively to learn from one another.  Warm welcome to Rebecca Flanagan of University of Massachusetts School of Law-Dartmouth who is joining in the organizing efforts of this year’s workshop. 

As is our usual practice, the afternoon sessions of the workshop will have an open agenda and room to include any subject of interest to those in attendance. The morning sessions will be related to a more specific theme: Ideas and Insights to Assist Part-time Law Students. We intend that topic to consider the needs of part-timers at all stages: as they prepare for law school, work their way through the curriculum, and get ready for the bar and practice.

One thing that makes all ASP gatherings exciting has always been our unique emphasis on collaboration — ASP folks DO things together so that we can learn together. NY Workshop participants work with each other to develop or enhance our individual lessons, materials, presentations, or any other part of our professional endeavors. No one who comes is allowed to be a back-bencher. Participants should be prepared to discuss a problem they are having that others may have struggled with as well, a strategy for dealing with a specific challenge, or a method of teaching or counseling that has helped you work with students. Please let us know what you would like do with your fellow workshop participant, and let us know how we will actively engage all attendees in your portion of the agenda. And if you aren’t certain let us know that too; we are happy to help you brainstorm. Discussions/demonstrations or presentations may be short or extended, depending on content and our own timing. We will send out a finalized workshop agenda when we confirm who will attend and what specific topics the participants plan to address. 

RSVP to Kris and Rebecca at addresses below and cc’d above. Since this is not a formal conference there will be no fee to attend. 

We hope to see many of you soon!

Kris Franklin                                          Rebecca Flanagan

Professor of Law                                    Assistant Professor of Law

New York Law School                           UMass Law

February 3, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Registration for Two Conferences at St. Mary's

Dear colleagues,

As I draft this, the weather in San Antonio is SUNNY and 68 DEGREES. 

  1. Now that I have your attention . . .

Please join St. Mary's University School of Law in beautiful San Antonio, Texas, for two conferences focused on academic and bar support!

First, in light of Texas moving to the UBE (in 2021?), on Thursday, March 7, 2019, St. Mary's will host a UBE Transition Boot Camp to discuss issues, strategies, and solutions for those schools (in Texas and elsewhere) facing an upcoming transition to the Uniform Bar Exam.  We have a host of expert presenters to help guide us all!  Specifically, we will discuss the details of the UBE and its grading structure – and how it differs from the tests it replaces.  We also recognize that this transition will cause changes in how we counsel students, the design of academic support programs, and the curriculum of the law school – so we have asked peers who have been through this process for recommendations on preparing our students, faculty, and academic support departments for the transition.  (A tentative schedule is attached; we have flexibility to stay longer if beneficial.)

Then, on Friday, March 8, 2019, St. Mary's is proud to host the 7th Annual SWCASP Conference – focused on innovative ideas that allow academic support departments to collaborate with others to achieve results.  The conference will kick off on Thursday evening with a welcome dinner sponsored by Barbri.  As in past years, we have a great slate of presenters for the conference to discuss all aspects of collaboration and coordination.  (A tentative schedule is attached.)

To register for either or both conferences, please use this form:

For both conferences, we have reserved a block of rooms (at a very good rate!) at the historic Menger Hotel, right next to the Alamo at 204 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX, 78205.  Please use this link to reserve your room:  Hotel information is also located in the Registration Form link.  Please note that the hotel block closes on February 15.

Come enjoy our beautiful weather, excellent Mexican food*, and lots of ASP comradery.  We look forward to seeing you here!

Please reach out to Zoe Niesel or me with any questions, and all the best,

Mike Barry 
Assistant Dean and Practitioner in Residence

St. Mary’s University School of Law

February 2, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 1, 2019

ABA House of Delegates Rejects Tougher Bar Standards

The ABA House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly against the proposed toughening of bar passage standards for ABA schools. The adverse impact on California law schools and on diversity were two reasons given for the defeat of the proposal. You can read about the vote in the post on Inside Higher Ed here.

February 1, 2019 in Bar Exam Issues, Bar Exam Preparation, Bar Exams | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Emotional Granularity and the Power of Naming

I believe in the power of words. As the journalist and economist Henry Hazlitt wrote, "The richer and more copious one's vocabulary and the greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one's thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together." If we didn't already recognize this truth before law school, certainly our legal education inculcated this understanding of the immense power of language.

The power of naming applies not only to factual and intellectual concepts but also to management of our emotions. "[T]he greater one's awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning" of our emotions, the more capable we are of coping with the slings and arrows of our emotional lives. This is the concept behind the term "emotional granularity," as recently featured in a public radio story about controlling anger.

Emotional granularity boils down to naming emotions (whether positive or negative) with specificity. The more precise the language we use to describe our emotional states, the more likely we are to understand that emotion, and the greater our success in controlling it. Based on research begun in the 1990s and continuing into the present, Northeastern University psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett and her colleagues have found that persons who use more specific terms to describe their emotional experiences actually experience those emotions more precisely. Instead of being "stressed" by a low grade or negative evaluation, for example, they may be furious, or indignant, or wearied, or despondent, or crestfallen, or disconsolate.

Those who can more precisely identify what they are feeling are better at regulating and coping with their emotions. In contrast, people who have trouble distinguishing whether they are "angry" or "anxious" or "depressed" or "afraid" have trouble finding the tools to deal with their experience, just like wailing toddlers may not be able to identify whether their distress comes from hunger, overstimulation, sleeplessness, loneliness, or fear.

Emotional granularity is, fortunately, a skill that can be learned, not just an attribute of persons blessed with sensitivity. Sometimes we think that the analytical skills we develop as lawyers have negative emotional effects, but here is an instance where the ability to consciously step back and analyze our emotions can have positive effects. (Indeed, research indicates that persons with high emotional granularity are not only happier but also healthier than the general population.) Moreover, building our emotional vocabulary can assist in and of itself. The more emotional concepts we learn (whether from perusing a trusty American/English dictionary or from exposing ourselves to concepts originating in other languages and cultures), the more our brains are primed to apply the concepts we know. And as Dr. Barrett notes, "The bigger your tool kit, the more flexibly your brain can anticipate and prescribe actions, and the better you can cope with life."  

(Nancy Luebbert)

January 30, 2019 in Stress & Anxiety | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 28, 2019

Are We Prepared for Future Students?

Another semester begins, and I proclaim the benefits of physically going to bar review lectures and taking notes with a pen on the handouts.  Students' eyes roll, unless they are already transfixed on their computer screen they didn't hear my speech.  Some will pretend to agree, but by the summer, less than 20% of our students show up for the on campus bar review course.  I groan and start thinking of new strategies to get students into seats.

Many of you have similar discussions with similar results.  I don't think I am a Luddite, but my mind wanders some days to creating a new law school called Luddite Law where wi-fi, screens, and technology are banned.  Then the next student meeting knocks on my door, sits down in my office, and proceeds to spend a couple minutes turning off the 35 different noise making devices before being able to start our meeting.  Of course, I then look at "The Facebook" on my iPhone after the meeting because those devices are addictive.

Low-tech law school is definitely a dream.  At my law school, every class that allows laptops has over 95% of students typing notes.  Less than 3-4 students hand-write exams in any given class.  The NCBE even announced they plan to move the MBE to online testing.  Technology is pervasive throughout law school buildings.

Many would agree that law school teaching has not accounted for new students and their technology.  Many professors are slow to integrate tech into the classroom, and instead of embracing the tech revolution, some merely ban laptops (which I am guilty of).  Students entering law school right now have not known a world without the internet, and they owned cell phones most of their lives.  Even if they started with a Nokia, they had the ability to instantly call someone.  They could even play the best phone game ever, snake.  Students today are engrossed in technology, and some of our teaching is behind.

Teaching is not evolving as fast as tech is progressing, and we may start falling even farther behind.  A recent Education Week Article discussed new classrooms from elementary school through high school.  The author said the environments looked more like video game arcades than classrooms.  Students learn reading comprehension and math on the computer with games that provide immediate feedback.  Studies discussed in the article did not find standardized test score improvement, but the schools utilizing the methods found "soft skill" improvement.  If the movement continues, law schools will start enrolling students in 5-10 years who learned primarily online in school.  Will we be able to teach these students with our current methods?  Should we change our methods or teach students how to succeed in our classrooms?  While Personal Jurisdiction would be fun in a computer game, would it work?

I know my Luddite Law thought is a dream, but I am concerned about the numerous different directions technology is going in legal education.  The NCBE is using more, professors are restricting use, and students enter with more tech skills.  Problems will arise, but I also trust this community to start building solutions.  I hope to be a part of the solutions eventually instead of just complaining about that new fangled technology.

(Steven Foster)

January 28, 2019 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Don't Forget the February 15 Deadline for ILTL Proposals


 Institute for Law Teaching and Learning Summer Conference

“Teaching Today’s Law Students”

June 3-5, 2019

Washburn University School of Law

Topeka, Kansas

The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning invites proposals for conference workshops addressing the many ways that law professors and administrators are reaching today’s law students.   With the ever-changing and heterogeneous nature of law students, this topic has taken on increased urgency for professors thinking about effective teaching strategies. 

The conference theme is intentionally broad and is designed to encompass a wide variety of topics – neuroscientific approaches to effective teaching; generational research about current law students; effective use of technology in the classroom; teaching first-generation college students; classroom behavior in the current political climate; academic approaches to less prepared students; fostering qualities such as growth mindset, resilience, and emotional intelligence in students; or techniques for providing effective formative feedback to students.

Accordingly, the Institute invites proposals for 60-minute workshops consistent with a broad interpretation of the conference theme. Each workshop should include materials that participants can use during the workshop and when they return to their campuses.  Presenters should model effective teaching methods by actively engaging the workshop participants.  The Institute Co-Directors are glad to work with anyone who would like advice on designing their presentations to be interactive.

To be considered for the conference, proposals should be one page (maximum), single-spaced, and include the following information:

  • The title of the workshop;
  • The name, address, telephone number, and email address of the presenter(s); and
  • A summary of the contents of the workshop, including its goals and methods; and
  • A description of the techniques the presenter will use to engage workshop participants and make the workshop interactive.

The proposal deadline is February 15, 2019.  Submit proposals via email to Professor Emily Grant, Co-Director, Institute for Law Teaching and Learning, at


January 27, 2019 in Meetings | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Two Important Words

Do we say "thank you" enough each day?

    Those two tiny words recognize the other person's help.

    Those two tiny words recognize the other person's worth.

    Those two tiny words express our gratitude.

    Those two tiny words can make someone else feel appreciated.

    Those two tiny words may be the bright spot in that other person's day.

It does not matter if we are tired, grumpy, rushed, or overwhelmed.

The excuses can be many for not taking the time to say the two tiny words.

But the excuses are not enough to excuse our overlooking the thanks.


And while we are at it, we want to also remember the precursor "please" before we ever even get to "thank you."

(Amy Jarmon)

January 26, 2019 in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0)