Monday, October 23, 2017

Cultivating Self-Directedness among Law Students by Benjamin Madison

From the Best Practices Blog: Cultivating Self-Directedness among Law Students by Benjamin Madison.  On self-directedness and professional identity training.

"Self-directedness, in particular self-directed learning, is a skill that students (and lawyers) need. In his book Self-Directing Learning, Malcolm Knowles defines self-directed learning as 'a process by which individuals takes the initiative . . . in diagnosing their learning needs, formulating goals, identifying the human and material resources for learning, choosing and implementing appropriate strategies, and evaluating learning outcomes.' (Malcolm Knowles, Self-Directed Learning 18 (1975)."

"Intrigued by this concept, my colleague Natt Gantt and I surveyed students at a number of schools in two sets of surveys to highlight the significance of self-directedness. . . .  The first survey sought from students their top goals leaving law school. One of the top goals, ranking even higher than paying off student loans, was to find meaningful employment. The other survey, of the same schools, asked students to fill in a survey that assessed the degree to which they possess self-directedness. The results showed that most law students are lacking in this quality. We observe in the article that students need to understand—have us 'connect the dots' for them on this point—that if they are going to find meaningful employment, they need to cultivate self-directedness."  (survey here)

"In short, the professional identity movement continues. As it does so, its benefits for legal education become even clearer. We only hope that more schools agree and take advantage of the efforts of the working groups seeking to move the ball forward in this important area."

For more on developing self-directedness in professional identity training, see Developing Your Professional Identity: Creating Your Inner Lawyer (2015).

(Scott Fruehwald)

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