Monday, March 9, 2020

Academic Archetypes: The Overconfident Student*

Overconfidence has become a new norm in legal education. More and more students are entering and graduating from law schools with self-perceptions that exceed their proven competencies. We cannot know whether law school attracts overconfidence or breeds it, but studies show that overconfident personality types abound in law schools.[1] Productive overconfidence can yield high rewards through the generation of a “can-do” mindset. This type of benign overconfidence prompts a scholar to submit a paper proposal and commit to presenting at a conference or symposium before completing a substantial draft of the work. This rather common phenomenon allows us to believe, based on past successes or purely aspirational hopes, that the commitment to deliver by a stated deadline will force our hand to keyboard to produce the committed work.

However, it is the malignant overconfidence that has seemingly become pandemic in the law school environment. The overconfident student archetype personifies a counterproductive level of self-assuredness that presents a challenge to law school faculty, those manning academic intervention programs, and the professional development and career services teams. The overconfident student has a distorted self-perception that internalizes affirmation, from any source, and dismisses constructive criticism. If ever forced to reckon with a shortcoming, the overconfident student code shifts it to an endearing quirk.

The risk to students in this archetype is that their overconfidence prevents them from seeing anything inconsistent with their self-perceptions. The overconfident student views success as any score above rock bottom. Because failure and poor performance will be attributed to teacher error or incompetence and to hyper-competitive student peers, low formative grades and below-mean performance will not register as warning signs for potential failure.

We all face overconfidence in the law school environment. And we can all play a role to combat the failure risks that it carries. First, we can and should set degree advising goals for students who exhibit counterproductive overconfidence. From ASP to Career Services to doctrinal office hours, we can identify GPA means for internships or clerkships in the student’s field of interest. We can present statistics that show bar passage results based on LGPA and class quartile ranking, and comparatively identify where the student is trending. We can demonstrate through alumni testimonials or raw data (if collected and maintained) the added difficulty of learning bar tested content through self-study or bar review instead of taking bar subjects while in law school. This type of blunt force mathematical trauma may be the only thing that resonates with the overconfident student type, because it presents facts and raw data that cannot be dismissed as assumption or overcome with misplaced self-assuredness.

(Marsha Griggs)

*Excerpted from Academic Archetypes, a work in progress by Marsha Griggs, Associate Professor, Washburn School of Law.

[1] Jonathan F. Schulz,  and Christian Thoni, Overconfidence and Career Choice, PLoS ONE 11(1): e0145126. doi:10.1371 (2016). 

March 9, 2020 in Learning Styles, Miscellany, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 25, 2019

Making Real Connections

We’re more connected through social media than ever before . . . [yet] we’re losing our ability to think and feel. It’s hurting our personal connections and making us more distant and lonely.  – Dallas Morning News Editorial Board

This week I recount the sad story of the late Ronald Wayne White. Who was Ronald Wayne White? His name may not ring a bell. White was not a celebrity or public figure. If Ronald Wayne White is known for anything, it is for being unknown. According to published reports, White was found dead inside his apartment this month. Medical examiner reports confirmed that his death had been undiscovered for three years. There are indeed unanswered questions surrounding this late discovered death, but the sad fact is that a man “apparently went missing for three years and no one noticed he was gone.”1

White’s tragic story is an opportunity for us to examine our connections to others. Those who attend and work inside law schools are subject to a special kind of isolation that is par for the course. Based on the volumes of reading, outlining, researching, writing, editing, and memorizing that is required to succeed in law school, we expect students and faculty to work in isolation for long stretches of time. The top students regale in finding that isolated corner hidden deep in the stacks of the fourth floor of the library where no one comes near to make a sound or disturb the concentration necessary to maintain top student status. I too am guilty of lauding solitude. I have, with giddiness, told my colleagues how much I look forward to holiday breaks alone at home to make some headway on my writing project.

While a certain degree of do-not-disturb-mode is both necessary and beneficial for productivity, I worry that we have become desensitized to isolation. We are all at risk of transcending deep focus into dangerous seclusion. Our law students, especially those who are far from home, or those who have no stable home to claim, are not immune to the risk. Loneliness is not a state of friendlessness, it is a position of lacked connection. People who are married, students in study groups, and faculty who interact well with colleagues can still suffer from debilitating loneliness that can only be cured with meaningful connection.

Connectivity cannot be measured by “likes” and social media followers alone. Please check on your students, your colleagues, and yourselves. If you have students who are far from home or without family, why not invite them to Thanksgiving dinner? Likewise, if there are international students in your program who are removed from our culture, maybe treat them to a meal over break. Perhaps your need to develop a work in progress or meet an article submission deadline can be morphed into an opportunity to interact with your colleagues by planning a “write-in.” Faculty colleagues from all disciplines can find an agreed window of time just to get together to write. Sometimes the camaraderie of shared presence and singleness of purpose can act as a proxy for interaction. Maybe extend your shared driveway morning wave, by baking (or buying) cookies and delivering them to a neighbor or senior citizen on your block that you have not spoken words to in years. Real connections don’t have to be big to be meaningful, they just have to be made.

(Marsha Griggs)

1 A man was found in his apartment three years after his death – and what it can teach us about loneliness (Dallas Morning News Editorial, November 21, 2019).

November 25, 2019 in Advice, Current Affairs, Encouragement & Inspiration, Food and Drink, Miscellany, News, Stress & Anxiety, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 2, 2019

Let's Write!

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on. — Louis L’Amour

Scholarly writing is the professional currency of academia that buys the respect and recognition that is needed to advance. In some career tracts, writing and publication are required. In others, optional writing can be easily pushed to the back burner of an otherwise busy day, week, year . . . career.

It is a challenge, to say the least, to find time to write when you have skills courses to teach that require multiple formative assessments over the span of the semester. On top of a course load with more grading and feedback expectations than other faculty may experience, ASPers typically have endless days with a steady stream of student appointments and walk-ins. But then there’s summer. NB: In ASP world, “summer” can be that eight to 17-day period between the bar exam and new student orientation where we: build our new class preps, learn about changes to the bar and prepare presentations to our faculty and administration re the same, or possibly squeeze in a week to tend to a home project or health condition that we’ve neglected all year.

Great idea, but who has time for it really? Honestly, we don’t have time to write with all the pressing demands on our time; but we can make time to write on topics about which we are passionate and knowledgeable. Joining a writing group, whether through AASE or on your university campus, is a great first step. As a member of a writing group, you will find opportunities to receive supportive guidance and feedback on your writing.

A possible second step is to use your own appointment/calendaring protocol to carve out one hour per day or a 3-hour weekly block for writing and self-expression. ASP writing can also be intimidating to those of us without a doctrinal area of expertise. But it does not have to be. There is no Blue Book rule that says ASPers must write about pedagogy, testing, or learning. We all have general levels of doctrinal expertise or we could not help students to succeed in law school and on the bar exam. It would not be a huge leap to expand on a favorite doctrinal area and research and write on ambiguous rules or inappropriate application of policy.

I’ve never done this before; I’m not sure how to. ASP writing might be most daunting to first-generation lawyers and law professors. It is important to not self-exclude oneself by concluding that you don’t know where to being or to question whether anyone would be interested in what you have to say. If you are not yet ready to submit a journal article, please consider the array of other outlets for your writing including, but certainly not limited to, The Learning Curve (published by the AALS section on Academic Support), Raising the Bar (published by AccessLex), the Law Teaching Blog (hosted by the Institution for Law Teaching and Learning), and your local bar journal newsletters and state bar publications. You can present your work-in-progress at conferences to get ideas to improve your work before submission. Pan this Blog and the ASP listserv for calls.

You do not have to know today what you will write, when you’ll make time to do it, or where you will be published. First things, first. Pick up a pen and notepad or blank journal that you’ve squirreled away in a dresser drawer. Pull out that laptop and create a new folder in your drive called “Writing”. And write. Just write. If you are an outliner, build an outline. If you don’t know where to begin write journal-style entries about a topic that you disagree with or strongly advocate for. Write about something that you’ve been trying to convince your faculty to adopt. Brag about something that your law school does better than everyone else. Write about something entirely non-legal (your kids’ learning process, your journey to patience, struggles with emotional well-being, etc.) and then make analogous parallels into law teaching and the needs of our students. Your first draft writing need not be perfect, polished, or persuasive. It can be deficient, descriptive, and underdeveloped. But it must be written to be improved and shared with the world.

Just. Write.

(©Marsha Griggs)

September 2, 2019 in Advice, Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 26, 2019

CSLSA Annual Conference

Do you have a great writing idea but don't know how to get started, or a project that you've started but pushed aside for other tasks? Bring your great writing idea or very rough draft to the Central States Law Schools Association ("CSLSA") annual conference September 20-21, 2019, at the University of Toledo College of Law. CSLSA is a regional organization of law schools dedicated to providing a supportive forum for conversation and collaboration with respect to scholarly activity by law school academics. CSLSA recognizes that scholarship ideas come in many shapes and stages, so presentations are welcome, whether just an early-stage idea or a completed draft.  CSLSA is about helping you grow as a scholar, so you’ll enjoy a relaxed and encouraging environment where you can ask questions and get helpful feedback on your work. At the CSLSA conference, faculty from across the country and around the world come together to collaborate and forge lasting connections. Finding childcare can be challenging, and your children are welcome at the law school while the conference is being held.  If you need help finding a local childcare provider, please contact the CSLSA president at kara.bruce@utoledo.edu. Registration is free to faculty and staff at member schools. For a list of member schools and registration information visit the CSLSA website.

Let's WRITE!

August 26, 2019 in Meetings, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

To His Coy 1L Students

O, why must IRAC dominate the page

When brilliant students try to write a bit,

Their eloquence confined, as in a cage,

Restricting scope and rhetoric and wit?

 

O, why must you capitulate to rote?

Abandon your unique persuasive voices?

Unless -- the logic these formats connote

Provides you with a better set of choices . . . ?

 

If you surrender to formality

You’ll find the structure helps you to direct

Your argument to only what is key,

And lets the reader know what to expect.

 

A writer who’s committed to a norm

Ironically is freed up to perform.

 

[Bill MacDonald]

January 22, 2019 in Advice, Encouragement & Inspiration, Miscellany, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Summer/Fall 2018 Learning Curve and Winter/Spring 2019 Submission Announcement

Dear Colleagues:

 

The editors of The Learning Curve are pleased to publish Summer/Fall 2018 edition which is [linked below]. In this edition, you will find articles related to the theme of diversity. We hope you will find these authors’ articles as insightful as we did as editors.

 

We are currently considering articles for the Winter/Spring 2019 issue, and we want to hear from you! We encourage both new and seasoned ASP professionals to submit their work.

 

We are publishing a general issue so we are considering all ideas related to academic support. If you have a classroom activity you would like to share, individual counseling techniques, advice for the academic support professional, and any other ideas, we want to hear from you!

 

Please ensure that your articles are applicable to our wide readership. Principles that apply broadly — i.e., to all teaching or support program environments — are especially welcome. While we always want to be supportive of your work, we discourage articles that focus solely on advertising for an individual school’s program.

 

Please send inquiries or your article submission to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than December 15, 2019. (Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.) Attach your submission to your message as a Word file. Please do not send a hard-copy manuscript or paste a manuscript into the body of an email message.

 

Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate. Please include any references in a references list at the end of your manuscript, not in footnotes. (See articles in this issue for examples.)

We look forward to reading your work and learning from you!

 

-The Editors

 

DeShun Harris, Executive Editor

Kevin Sherrill, Associate Editor

Sarira Sadeghi, Assistant Editor

Nancy Reeves, Technology Editor*

 

*Special thanks to Christina Chong (outgoing Technology Editor) for her contributions to this edition.

  Download Learning Curve Summer Fall 2018

November 9, 2018 in Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

IRACs All the Way Down

To lawyers, law students, and professors, the IRAC formula is as commonplace a tool as yellow highlighters or The Blue Book.  Some may tout or prefer one of its dozens of variations, particularly in specific situations, but at heart, they all do the same basic job of providing a reliable structure for building an argument.  It may take some time for students to internalize that structure and use it consistently.  Once they do, however, some students lean on it heavily, as a way of making sure all the expected components of their analysis (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) are included.  Other students may see it with more anxiety, as a set of expectations imposed by certain professors; they may worry that if they don't use IRAC, they won't receive full credit in their essay responses.

In either case, students can sometimes be stymied when trying to adhere to IRAC format in an essay test response that requires multiple pieces of analysis, like a rule with multiple elements.  For example, trying to fit a discussion of a negligence claim into one big IRAC paragraph -- as some students may feel they are required to do -- may start off well, as the student correctly identifies the question of negligence as the issue and the requirement to show duty, breach, causation, and damages as the rule.  But then the application section may become messy, as the student tries to write about each element.  If more than one element depends on tricky or subtle facts, or if there are multiple arguments and counterarguments to some elements, then the student may struggle to control multiple threads of analysis, without additional structure, in an enormous paragraph that spreads over two or three pages.  The student may lose some of those threads, and so might the reader.

This is an unsurprising consequence of the emphasis on sticking to an overall IRAC format: students, for comfort or consistency, might feel compelled to turn every argument into a unitary IRAC.  This may be less of a problem for long-term projects, like a legal research and writing memo, where a student may be given more instruction about formatting and will have opportunities to rewrite and edit their essays.  But on a timed assignment, like a final exam, the urge to create one big IRAC argument -- or the fear of not doing so -- can slow students down and inhibit clarity.

One way to help students improve their relationships with IRAC is to point out that a well-reasoned argument can have layers of IRACs built into it.  The Application portion, after all, is where the meat of the analysis appears, and if that analysis requires that the student examine multiple elements, each element could be discussed in its own separate sub-IRAC paragraph.  To use the negligence example:

Issue: Negligence claim
Rule: Duty, Breach, Causation, Damages
Application:
    Issue1: Duty
    Rule1: [e.g., Obligation to act as reasonably prudent person under circumstances]
    Application1: [Application of rule to specific facts]
    Conclusionre: Duty
    Issue2: Breach
    Rule2
    Application2
    Conclusionre: Breach
    [etc.]
Conclusion re: Negligence claim

This layering of IRACs allows students to take advantage of the order imposed by the format, while still providing the flexibility to address separate sub-issues separately.  Theoretically, the layering could continue indefinitely, if certain elements have sub-elements to consider:

    Issue3: Causation
    Rule3: Actual cause and Proximate cause
    Application3:
        Issue3A: Actual cause
        Rule3A
        Application3A
        Conclusion3A re: Actual cause
        Issue3B: Proximate cause
        Rule3B
        Application3B
        Conclusion3B re: Proximate cause
    Conclusionre: Causation

This layering of IRACs may not always be the most artful way to organize a legal discussion, but in an exam situation in which students are trying to maximize speed, completeness, and clarity simultaneously, it can provide an efficient way for them to put together a complex analysis.

(Bill MacDonald)

October 30, 2018 in Advice, Exams - Theory, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Reminder: August 15th Deadline for Submissions to the Learning Curve

Partial text from a June 15th posting to the ASP listserv:

We are currently considering articles for the Summer/Fall 2018 issue, and we want to hear from you! We encourage both new and seasoned ASP professionals to submit their work.

We are particularly interested in submissions surrounding the theme of supporting diverse students. Do you have orientation, class, or workshop exercises that focus on creating an inclusive environment? Do you have techniques to support students on an individual basis? Do you have a unique way of collaborating with student groups to create a sense of belonging? Is there a subset of students you've identified and supported who are diverse in ways that people overlook? 

Please send your article submission to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than August 15, 2018. (Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.) Attach your submission to your message as a Word file. Please do not send a hard-copy manuscript or paste a manuscript into the body of an email message.

Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate. Please include any references in a references list at the end of your manuscript, not in footnotes. (See articles in this issue for examples.)

We look forward to reading your work and learning from you!

Regards,

The Editors

DeShun Harris, Executive Editor*

Kevin Sherrill, Associate Editor

Christina Chong, Technology Editor

July 28, 2018 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Call for Articles for the Winter Issue of The Learning Curve

For our upcoming Winter issue, we are particularly interested in submissions surrounding the issue’s themes of academic advising, counseling, and troubleshooting performance issues our students' experience. Are you doing something innovative outside of the classroom that helps motivate a new generation of law students? Do you have classroom exercises that promote the positive effects of supportive peer groups? Do you use technology to facilitate difficult conversations with students who are performing at a level they find acceptable?

Please ensure that your articles are applicable to our wide readership. Principles that apply broadly — i.e., to all teaching or support program environments — are especially welcome. While we always want to be supportive of your work, we discourage articles that focus solely on advertising for an individual school’s program.

Please send your article submission to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than December 1, 2017. (Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.) Attach your submission to your message as a Word file. Please do not send a hard-copy manuscript or paste a manuscript into the body of an email message.

Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate. Please include any references in a references list at the end of your manuscript, not in footnotes. (See articles in this issue for examples.)

We look forward to reading your work and learning from you!

Regards,

The Editors

Chelsea Baldwin, Executive Editor

DeShun Harris, Associate Editor

Christina Chong, Technology Editor

October 14, 2017 in Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Think Twice Before Banning Laptops: A Note on Accommodations and Diverse Thinking and Learning

Pause keyboard

I mentioned in last week’s blog about my inability to remain focused on our law school's voluntary pre-orientation program for incoming 1Ls due to events related Charlottesville. As I continue my efforts to remain focused, I’ll try to spend a few minutes talking about a topic that many of you likely discuss with your students, either during a similar orientation or pre-orientation program or in workshops or individual conferences: whether students should handwrite their notes or take them on a laptop.

The use of laptops in class rightfully generates much discussion on faculty and ASP mailing lists, particularly at the start of the semester. The discussion has even entered the Twitter realm (for example, here and here; H/T Prof. Ellie Margolis and Prof. Katherine Kelly).

I know there is a lot research and concerns out there relating to laptop use and taking notes. For instance: (1) students may often find it difficult to follow classroom dialogue while trying to type everything down that is discussed in class; and (2) there are potential distractions related to laptop use in class—both for the student doing something that he/she should not be doing on the laptop and for those students sitting near this student.

I don’t necessarily disagree with the research and concerns. I understand that laptops can create tempting distractions for our students.  And I agree that we don’t want students “zoned out” from using laptops in our classes.  But, we should also not want to “zone out” students who may need to use a laptop in class as a critical learning tool for them.

So, I want to caution folks before they decide to ban laptops entirely in the classroom. I want folks to remember that banning laptops may create a situation where students with an accommodation for a learning disability are forced to disclose that they have a learning disability.  This forced disclosure may not be an issue for some students—they may not complain or make much of the ban, or they might not care that they are the only student in a 70+ class who has his/her laptop out in a no-laptop use classroom. So, a complete laptop ban may not be that much of an issue for some students.  But, it could still be an issue. 

If you are a strong proponent for absolutely no laptop use in class, perhaps your student affairs office might be able to not place students who have laptop use as an accommodation in your class. Of course, this recommendation may only work if you happen to teach a course that is also offered during the same semester by a faculty member who does not have a laptop ban.

Perhaps, someone like a student affairs or ASP professional may have a chat with those students who are disengaged in the classroom to see what may be contributing to the disengagement. Is it solely the laptop? Or, as those of us in the law school ASP world know, are there other academic or non-academic factors that may be impacting the student’s ability to “follow along in class”? Are the students distracted by a laptop disengaged because the laptop is in front of them? Or, is something happening outside of the classroom that may be motivating the student to disengage on the laptop? Could it be easier for a student who is having a challenging time in law school to disengage, rather than continuing to try and fail?

One more recommendation if you are a strong proponent for absolutely no laptop use in class: maybe, reconsider why you have the no laptop policy in the first place.

Do we assume that students who handwrite their notes never disengage? Or, can a student on a social media account be just as "zoned out" as someone daydreaming or drawing an elaborate doodle on his/her notebook paper?

Do we assume that someone who has a laptop will automatically be programmed to type everything down verbatim in class and, thus, not follow along in the classroom dialogue? Do we assume that someone who is handwriting his/her notes will not automatically try to write everything (or as much) down in class and, thus, will follow along in the classroom dialogue?  I suspect we have had many students in our classrooms who prove and disprove both assumptions.

Do we assume that those students who are using a laptop are naturally worse note-takers—that they have not developed or cannot develop with guidance (from great ASP folks, like us!) effective methods for taking notes in a law school class? Do we assume that those students who handwrite their notes all have developed the proper method for effective and efficient ways to take notes in a law school class? Again, I suspect we have had many students in our classrooms who prove and disprove both assumptions. 

And, finally, are we even aware of, or do we automatically discount, the various computer applications out there that might be geared for diverse learning styles or that might help keep our students’ notes better organized?

We often try to train our law students on flexible thinking—that there may often not just be a black or white answer to things in the law; that there, frustratingly, is often a large shade of gray in the law; that the answer to many questions in the law may often be “It depends.”

Perhaps, we can practice a little of what we preach. Just because we may not be able to take effective notes using a laptop in a law school classroom doesn’t mean our students are unable to take effective notes on a laptop in class. And just because we may not have needed a laptop to succeed in law school doesn’t necessarily mean that someone else could not succeed in law school by using one. Some students may actually need the laptop to help them succeed. And a “black" or "white" law might actually say that they are entitled to use a laptop in class. (OJ Salinas)

August 21, 2017 in Advice, Current Affairs, Disability Matters, Diversity Issues, Exams - Studying, Exams - Theory, Learning Styles, Miscellany, Orientation, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Is good spelling a lost art?

BBC News recently ran an article on the importance of good spelling. Many of the points relate to law students and lawyers as well as the general public and businesses. The article is here.

August 20, 2017 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Reminder: Deadline for Learning Curve Submissions is July 1

Dear Friends & Colleagues:

We're working on the summer issue of The Learning Curve and would like a couple more articles. Please let this email serve as a reminder that the submission deadline for potential inclusion in this issue is July 1, 2017

We are expecting to publish another general topic/theme issue; however, there have been a lot of new faces joining us in the field and I am confident they'd appreciate some lessons learned from people who now have a year or three in the field under their belts. Additionally, if you have an idea, a lesson, or a perspective on ASP or bar teaching to share, please consider submitting it to The Learning Curve. 

Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate, and attached as a Word file.  Please send your inquiries and submissions to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com.   

Please join me in thanking Jeremiah Ho for his years of service toThe Learning Curve. On behalf of the current Board of Editors, we appreciate guidance he provided in shepherding last year's issues through the publication process. 

We look forward to sharing some great ideas with you in the coming issue!

All the best,

Chelsea 

--

Chelsea M. Baldwin

Director of Academic Success

William S. Boyd School of Law

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

4505 S. Maryland Parkway, Box 451003

Las Vegas, NV 89154-1003

(702)895-2433

June 23, 2017 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Do you have trouble finding time to research, write, or complete projects?

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently included a series of articles for faculty on how to use their summers and how to make time to research or write. Obviously, most of us in ASP/bar prep work are on 12-month contracts, so summers are not totally free, dead periods. However, many of us (with the exception of bar support) have some quieter periods that could be used productively for the tasks we long to have time for during the academic semesters. One of the articles included tips from a series of scholars and might be helpful to ASPers who want to make time to research and write or to complete other projects: Making Time for Research and Writing. (Amy Jarmon)

April 16, 2017 in Miscellany, Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

One Thing Can Improve Students' Grades in All Their Courses!

Simply amazing!

As reported in "Above the Law," there is one thing that we can do to improve our students' grades in all their courses this academic term.  

In her post about the article "The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance,"  Kathryn Rubio summarizes the research of Daniel Schwarcz and Dion Farganis that demonstrates that law students that have just one teacher...in just one course...who provide individualized feedback within that course...improve grades for their students...across all courses, even controlling for LSAT and UGPA:  http://abovethelaw.com/2016/05/one-thing-can-improve-all-your-law-school-grades/ 

Here's the proof (or, for those of you that are trial attorneys, the empirical evidence):  The Impact of Individualized Feedback on Law Student Performance

For us, this is incredible news…because…we can make that difference for our students - across all their courses - by integrating individualized feedback through our own courses and programs.

Wow…that's the power of one!  (Scott Johns).

 

August 18, 2016 in Advice, Exams - Studying, Learning Styles, Study Tips - General, Teaching Tips, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Are you a current or aspiring ASP writer?

Texas Academic Support and Legal Writing Scholars Colloquium

Location: Texas A&M University School of Law, Fort Worth, Texas

Date: September 23,  2016

Although named the “Texas Academic Support and Legal Writing Scholars Colloquium," this gathering is open to legal writing and academic support faculty/instructors from anywhere to present works-in-progress across all disciplines within the law, doctrinal or pedagogical.  Academic Support and Legal Writing faculty have complicated time commitments in our jobs, so we would like to create a forum to discuss our scholarship in light of our responsibilities that are somewhat different than from faculty members.  The works presented can be in the very early stages to elicit comments for fully developing the project, to more complete articles for honing before publication.  You can also participate without presenting if you like, to discuss your ideas informally with like minded colleagues during the breaks in the program.

Depending on the response, we will make every effort to create panels that share some common attributes. We would like to be able to distribute drafts, or even outlines of works in progress to the other members of the panel if possible. 

The colloquium will be all day on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Texas A&M University School of Law in Fort Worth, TX.  There is no fee to participate, but registration is required so that we may plan our panels, plan for lunch and other logistic needs.  We are located in downtown Fort Worth, with a wide variety of hotel choices, and two fairly close airports that make travel here not terribly difficult (DFW, and DAL).  The Sheraton Fort Worth is directly next door, the Omni a short walk across the Watergarden, the Hilton a few blocks away, a lovely independent called the Ashton is also walking distance,and there are some more budget minded offerings within a short drive. 

To register for the colloquium, email Deshun Harris at dharris@tamu.edu by September 1, 2016. In the email, please include the title of your presentation topic (if you have one), your school name, previous publications/presentations, and your title.  Please also let us know of any food or other accommodations that we can make to enhance your visit.  Additionally, please note whether you will be attending the September 22, 2016 evening reception. Presenters are encouraged to submit a summary or draft paper two weeks prior to the colloquium (September 9) to ensure adequate time for review by panel members.

James McGrath 
Professor of Law & Director of Academic Support and Bar Services

Texas A&M University School of Law
1515 Commerce Street 
Fort Worth, TX 76102 
(817) 212-3954

jmcgrath@tamu.edu

July 17, 2016 in Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Welcome to The Indigo Book

Hat tip to Louisa Heiny, S. J. Quinney College of Law, for the announcement that the new open source volume for legal citation has gone live. The link is here: The Indigo Book.

April 26, 2016 in Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Learning Curve- Call for Submissions

The Learning Curve is the official publication of the AALS Section on Academic Support and is published twice yearly, once in the summer and once in the winter. We currently are considering articles for the Winter 2016 issue, and we want to hear from you! We encourage both new and seasoned ASP professionals to submit their work.

 We are particularly interested in submissions surrounding the issue’s theme of using ASP to increase student engagement. How do you motivate students? Are you integrating ASP throughout the curriculum to offer engaging opportunities for students? Are you involved with assessment at your institution and have tools to share with your colleagues that will enhance engagement? Do you creatively use social media platforms to reach students? Please ensure that your articles are applicable to our wide readership. Principles that apply broadly- i.e., to all teaching or support program environments are especially welcome. While we always want to be supportive of your work, we discourage articles that focus solely on advertising for an individual school’s program.

Please send your submission to LearningCurveASP@gmail.com by no later than October 30, 2015. Attach it to your message as a Word file. Please do not send a hard-copy manuscript or paste a manuscript into the body of an email message. Articles should be 500 to 2,000 words in length, with light references, if appropriate. Our publishing software does not sup-port footnotes that run with text, so please include any references in a “References and Further Reading” list at the end of your manuscript. (Please see the articles in this issue for examples.)

For more information, you may contact Lisa Young at youngl@seattleu.edu. Please do not send inquiries to the Gmail account, as it is not regularly monitored.

We look forward to reading your work and learning from you!

Sincerely,

The Learning Curve Editors

Lisa Young, Seattle University School of Law (Executive Editor) 

Jeremiah Ho, UMass Dartmouth (Associate Editor)

Chelsea Baldwin, Oklahoma City University (Assistant Editor)

October 28, 2015 in Publishing, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Call for Proposals: LWI One-Day Legal Writing Conferences

Twelve law schools across the country are hosting LWI One-Day Legal Writing Conferences on one of the first two weekends in December. The Conferences are hosted by schools in every region of the country. They are great opportunities for first-time presenters as well as the seasoned legal writing, lawyering skills, and academic support professionals. Many locations include Academic Support as part of their theme: collaborating with ASP, preparing the academically unprepared law student, meeting the needs of different learners, and integrating legal writing and academic success, to name a few.

For more information about attending or presenting, please use the following link:

https://my.lls.edu/legalwritinginstituteonedayworkshops

The link includes information about the schools hosting, the themes for each school's conference, the date and the site coordinators.

For those interested in submitting a presentation proposal, it also includes an area to submit proposals and to rank the sites in order of your preference to participate. Proposals are due by Thursday, September 17, 2015 10:00 PM PST.

After you submit a proposal the information will be compiled and distributed to the site coordinators. The site coordinators will then invite those whose proposals fit well within their schedule to participate. 

If you don't want to present but are interested in attending, registration will open soon after the proposal submission process is complete.

​Send any questions about the link or proposal submission process to archerc@lls.edu, and questions about the specific locations to the site coordinators. 

This is a great opportunity for ASP professionals to learn, share, and collaborate with colleagues at different schools across the county. I encourage you to consider submitting a presentation proposal.

(KSK)

August 25, 2015 in Meetings, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Nix the Acronyms

The Legal Skills Prof Blog recently posted this reference to a short piece on acronyms. I agree that acronyms and other abbreviations can cause confusion, ruin the flow of an essay, and cause the reader frustration. The article suggests a few useful guidelines on when to use them and when to avoid them. I have even had one bar examiner tell me to instruct students that their bar exam essays should not read like a text message. In an acronym, twitter/text, abbreviation heavy culture, this is a good reminder. Thus, I advise my students that when they are in doubt, they should write it out.

(LBY)

February 23, 2015 in Advice, Bar Exam Preparation, Miscellany, Teaching Tips, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 12, 2015

If you can't say it, it does not exist.

When it comes to legal writing, "if you cannot say it, it does not exist." 

While attending the 2015 meeting of the American Association of Law Schools, I had the opportunity to attend the Blackwell Reception.  The Blackwell Reception is put on by the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors.

At the 2015 Blackwell Reception, these organizations presented two awards:

The Blackwell Award went to Helene Shapo.

The Golden Pen Award went to the Honorable Michael Ponsor, Judge  for the United States District court for the Western District of Massachusetts.

So, finally -- the significance of the title of this blog post:  "If you cannot say it, it does not exist."  Judge Ponsor made this statement as he accepted his award and, not surprisingly, received much applause from the roomful of legal writing professors.  Judge Ponsor's statement goes well beyond the confines of legal research and writing classes. 

Even if this bloger did not do double duty in both Academic Support and Legal Writing and even if this blogger did not work at a law school in Western Massachusetts (where Judge Ponsor is a welcome and respected speaker) his statement would be worthy of this blog.  The statement applies to every aspect of a law student's journey toward success in law school and in law practice.  As law professors, law students, or lawyers, if we cannot explain or articulate our analysis, that analysis does not exist.  I have already used Judge Ponsor's statement -- in the first class of my upper level course.

Have a great Spring Semester!

 

(MGO)

 

January 12, 2015 in Advice, Meetings, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)