Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Sometimes in this space, I focus on new scholarship. Other times, I focus on the classics. Classics are the pieces that make up the canon of academic support best practices. Today is a classics day.
1. R. Flanagan, The Kids Aren't Alright: Rethinking the Law Student Skills Deficit, 15 Brigham Young Univ. Educ. & L. J. (2015).
From the abstract:
This article explores the decline of fundamental thinking skills in pre-law students and the challenges facing law schools admitting underprepared students during a time of constrained budgets and declining enrollment. A growing body of empirical research demonstrates a marked decline in the critical thinking and reasoning skills among college graduates. The causes for the decline are interconnected with other problematic changes on undergraduate campuses: 1) a dramatic decrease in student study time since 1960, examining research which suggests that undergraduate students spent 1/3 less time studying in 2003 than they did in 1961; 2) a consumerist orientation among college students, resulting in a diminished focus on learning; 3) grade inflation at undergraduate campuses, resulting in grade compression and an inability to distinguish between exceptional and ordinary students 4) a decline in undergraduate students choosing to major in liberal arts that provide the foundation for early success in law school. Declines in study time, grade inflation, and changing patterns in student class choice have created an undergraduate learning environment that is less rigorous than undergraduate education fifty years ago.
This article challenges law schools to examine the adequacy of traditional support programs when incoming classes require systemic and sustained academic assistance. Law schools have traditionally helped academically underprepared through academic support programs, however, traditional ASPs are not equipped to provide broad-based and comprehensive assistance to large numbers of law students. Law student underpreparedness is a “wicked problem,” so complex that singular solutions are impossible. Law schools admitting substantial numbers of students with lower-levels of academic preparedness need to ask themselves questions to determine how to best address these challenges. The broader legal community should reflect on these questions because the answers will require all stakeholders to invest in changes to undergraduate education as well as legal training.
E. Bloom (New England), Teaching Law Students to Teach Themselves: Using Lessons from Educational Psychology to Shape Self-Regulated Learners, 59 Wayne L. Rev. 311 (2013).
From the abstract:
Amidst current concerns about the value of a legal education, this article seeks to identify ways in which law schools and law professors can take steps to maximize the learning experience for their students. The article focuses on cutting-edge strategies that will help a diverse population of law students become self-regulated learners. Drawing on the work of educational psychologists, it describes ways to help students adapt to the demands of the law school learning experience and then outlines specific strategies for teaching students to regulate their motivational beliefs, their resource management practices, and their approaches to mastering the material. Throughout, the article emphasizes the importance of these skills for success both as law students and as lawyers. Finally, checklists are provided to help law professors build a culture of self-regulated learning in their schools.
R.A. McKinney (UNC), Reading Like a Lawyer (Carolina Academic Press 2012).
From the publisher:
The ability to read law well is an indispensable skill that can make or break the academic career of any aspiring lawyer. Fortunately, the ability to read law well (quickly and accurately) is a skill that can be acquired through knowledge and practice. First published in 2005, Reading Like a Lawyer has become a staple on many law school reading lists for prospective and admitted students. The second edition includes the same critical reasoning and reading strategies, accompanied by hands-on practice exercises, that made the first edition such a success. It adds a valuable new chapter on a growing challenge for this generation of legal readers: how to read material that is presented on a screen with maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
(Louis Schulze, FIU Law).