Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Students; Ask What Your Students Can Do For Themselves by Louis Schulze

Louis Schulze has an interesting post about creating self-directed learners on the Faculty Lounge: Ask Not What You Can Do For Your Students; Ask What Your Students Can Do For Themselves.  In it, he explains why students at his law school, FIU, did so well on the Florida bar.


"Our pass rate doesn’t come from what we’ve done for our students; it comes from what we’ve taught them to do for themselves."

"In addition, our AEP intentionally employs certain specific methods. But these methods are well outside the orthodoxy in terms of measures usually adopted to improve students’ law school success and impact bar results. We don’t focus on how to change our teaching, how to reteach doctrine, or how to give students more of some supposed cure-all. We have not transformed into a 'bar prep school.' Instead, we began teaching students how to teach themselves."

"But empirical studies demonstrate that the orthodox methods defy everything we know from science about how the brain acquires knowledge and develops analytical skills. Rereading is one of the worst ways to encode memory, yet tradition dictates that students study for exams and the bar by reading outlines endlessly. Following another person’s dictates on learning outsources the regulation of that learning and kills the crucial skill of metacognition, yet students blindly follow syllabi and bar prep courses’ one-size-fits-all programs. Relying solely on lectures prevents students from building their own cognitive schema, yet students spend weeks having their minds wired externally. Failing to leverage spaced repetition and forced recall practice makes learning far less effective and efficient, yet many students don’t start testing themselves, if at all, until just days before finals or the bar exam."

"Our program teaches our students, from day one of law school, how to make more effective learning methods the centerpiece of their studies."

"The increased use of new pedagogies in legal education is progress, but that progress is a necessary but insufficient condition for improvement. The academy also needs to think less about engineering short-term results using orthodox methods and more about producing life-long students of the law by empowering their use of the science of learning. Asking what our students can do for themselves requires us to cede to them the autonomy of learning so that they can control their own development and forge their own success."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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