Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Our scholarly cup runneth over again this week. So much so that I need to have three posts and not just one. The first includes law review articles written by those currently in the ASP/ Bar field. The second will include books written by those currently in the ASP/ Bar field. The last will note articles of interest to those in the ASP/ bar field.
1. Beth A. Brennan, Explicit Instruction in Legal Education: Boon or Spoon? __ Memphis L. Rev. (forthcoming 2021).
From the abstract:
While legal education unquestionably hones students’ critical thinking skills, it also privileges students who are faster readers and have prior background knowledge or larger working memories. According to the prevailing mythology of law school pedagogy, students learn by struggling to find their way out of chaos. Only then is their learning deep enough to permit them to engage in critical thinking and legal reasoning.
Learning theory and research suggest this type of “inquiry” learning is not an effective way to introduce novice learners to a subject. Lacking basic substantive and procedural knowledge, students’ struggles are often unproductive and dispiriting.
Initial explicit instruction early in a student’s learning more predictably creates stable, accurate knowledge. Because higher-order thinking depends on having some knowledge, ensuring students have a strong foundation of substantive and procedural knowledge increases the likelihood that they will develop critical thinking skills.
However, legal education uniformly dismisses anything that looks like “spoon-feeding.” If the academy is going to incorporate learning theory into its pedagogy, it must understand and articulate the differences between spoon-feeding and explicit instruction.
This Article examines explicit instruction as a pedagogical tool for legal educators. Part I examines cognitive psychological theories of thinking and learning to understand the differences between spoon-feeding and explicit instruction and explain why initial explicit instruction is useful. Part II delves into the cognitive differences between novices and experts that support initial explicit instruction. Part III examines experts’ cognitive barriers to effective teaching. Part IV provides examples of how explicit instruction can be used in the law school classroom.
The Article concludes that the time is ripe for the academy to bring explicit instruction out of the shadows, and to incorporate initial explicit instruction into legal education.
2. Steven Foster, Does the Multistate Bar Exam Validly Measure Attorney Competence?, 82 Ohio St. Law J. Online 31 (2021).
From the abstract:
2020 brought many challenges, which included administering the bar exam. States jumped through numerous obstacles to continue administering the current form of the exam. However, the current bar exam has never been proven to be a valid measure of attorney competence. This article offers evidence the Multistate Bar Exam (MBE), is invalid. The exam, in other words, does not measure the knowledge and skills that lawyers use in practice. On the contrary, it is an artificial barrier to practice—one that harms the public by failing to screen for the knowledge and skills that clients need from their attorneys.
3. Kris Franklin & Paula Manning, Make it Work! Teaching Law Students to Get Great Supervision (Even When Supervisors Aren't That Great), NYLS Legal Studies Research Paper No. 3797175 (forthcoming 2021).
From the abstract:
In an ideal world every single meeting between law students and professors, or between beginning lawyers and their supervisors, should leave supervisors impressed by their charges and junior lawyers/students with a clear sense of direction for their work. We do not live in that ideal world.
This Article seeks to improve those supervisory meetings, and to do so from the perspective of the ones under supervision. We posit there is a genuine art to getting the best supervision possible, and that doing so can be both learned and taught. We first unpack some of the disconnects and hidden assumptions that can hinder effective supervisory meetings. We observe that participants in supervisory meetings may have very different expectations about the roles of the participants. We further explore the relational aspects of supervision and note that a shared sense of responsibility for supervision promotes more effective supervisory interactions. Next, the Article turns to considering what law professors can do to prepare law students to get the most out of feedback from their supervisors. We conclude that teaching law students to adjust their attributions toward growth, to set clear and achievable goals, and to be thoughtfully self-reflective, will maximize their learning in any academic and professional supervision.
(Louis Schulze, FIU Law)