Friday, August 29, 2014

A Model for Teaching Reflection in Legal Education

Law schools interested in legal education reform need to teach students reflection because reflection is a key to deep learning.  Timothy Casey has just posted an excellent model for reflection on SSRN: Reflective Practice in Legal Education: The Stages of Reflection.


"Experiential legal education programs include reflection as an explicit learning outcome. Although many teachers and students have seen the value of reflection, few have studied the process of reflection. Drawing from research in the fields of cognitive development, reflective judgment, and moral reasoning, this article presents an organizational model for teaching reflection in six stages.  The Stages of Reflection model provides teachers and students with a deeper understanding of the process of reflection, and creates a pathway for the development of reflective practice."

Here are the six stages of Casey's model:

"The model proposed in this article begins with a concrete, descriptive level of reflection and then progresses in stages to more abstract and more contextual levels of reflection. Each stage adds complexity. The first stage – Competence – asks the student to relate her performance to the standard of a reasonably competent lawyer. At the next stage – Difference and Choice – the student considers different means to achieve the goal of the performance. Middle stages– Internal Context and External Context – ask the student to describe factors that affected her decision-making process, beginning with a consideration of personal preferences, experiences, biases and characteristics, and moving to consideration of the preferences, experiences, biases and characteristics of others. The next stage – Societal Context – asks the student to consider relationships between law and society, social, political, historical, or economic structures that affect the lawyering process. In the final stage – Metacognition – the student should demonstrate an awareness of the effect of reflection on her thinking process."

Update: I have just finished reading this article for the third time, and I think it is amazing.  I think all law schools should teach it on orientation.  This model helps students get started in the right direction. 

 (Scott Fruehwald)

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