Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Active Learning in Law Schools. It Is Time To Act!

On Monday, I mentioned an article in the New York Times that states that active learning helps all college students, but helps minorities and the poor more because they come to college already behind.  (here)  The Best Practices for Legal Education Blog (here) has a post on the article.  The post ends, "The studies cited in this NY Times article provide support for increasing active learning in legal education, both to improve all students’ learning and to level the playing field."

I believe that this last sentence is not strong enough.  The article demonstrates that all law professors must incorporate active learning into their teaching if they are serious about their students. It is time to end the rhetoric and act. We know how to help minority students improve their learning. Many, many articles have concluded the same thing as those mentioned in the Times article. There is no doubt that active learning is more effective than passive approaches.  Active learning is like penicillin. It doesn’t need more testing.

All law professors should do problem-solving exercises in their classes.  They should employ formative assessment.  They should require students to do memos and briefs.  This is not as hard as it sounds.  There are many texts out there, such as [beware: shameless plug approaching] my text A Companion to Torts: How to Think Like a Torts Lawyer (2015).

We cannot wait to act.  Let's not lose more students to outdated teaching approaches.  We can help minorities and the poor succeed in law school.

(Scott Fruehwald)

P.S. I am not criticizing the blogger of the post at Best Practices.  She is one of the strongest supporters of legal education reform.  However, I am talking to those who advocate diversity and equality but do nothing  to help them be achieved.  Don't be an arm-chair liberal; be a doer.

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