Saturday, January 30, 2016

Texas Tech University School of Law has implemented a "SMART" brain training program for its 1Ls

SMART stands for "strategic memory advanced reasoning training" and is a program developed by the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas. One aspect of the program is designed to instill "strategic attention" skills which seems to be a fancy way of saying that it is intended to help students develop better focus and reduce multitasking. Here's the full story from the ABA Journal Blog:

Texas Tech adopts SMART brain training for its 1Ls


The first year of law school can be akin to middle school. Anxiety and self-doubt abound: How should I study? What do I need to remember? Why was that lady carrying scales onto a train again?


Texas Tech University School of Law is out to change that. Last year, the law school introduced its entering first-year class to SMART (strategic memory advanced reasoning training), a program developed by the Center for BrainHealth, a research division of the University of Texas at Dallas, to improve cognitive performance.


Texas Tech is the first law school to offer the program. “When you think about it, what’s a lawyer’s main tool? The brain,” says law school dean Darby Dickerson.


SMART focuses on three cognitive processes, explains Lori Cook of the Center for BrainHealth, who helped develop the program. The first is strategic attention, which involves blocking and filtering information, limiting multitasking and determining priorities. The second is integrated reasoning or “big-picture thinking,” Cook explains, and the third is innovation or “creative problem solving,” with the goal of “mitigating shallow thinking and status quo approaches.”


SMART initially was developed for adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Cook says. It was so successful that center clinicians soon expanded and customized it for diverse groups, including Navy SEALs and corporate executives.


Dallas lawyer and Texas Tech law alum Chad A. West had gone through the training several years ago when it was offered to military veterans. He brought the idea to the law school because he found the training so revolutionary and felt it could help aspiring lawyers, too.


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