Saturday, March 31, 2018

Should you hug your students?

I've always thought "no way." In my opinion, it clearly violates appropriate teacher-student boundaries. That's even more true today given the #metoo phenomenon and everyone's extra sensitivity about the potential for a sexual harassment claim whether the offending conduct is intentional or not.  If you disagree about whether you should refrain from hugging your students, maybe this post from educational scholar and Stanford Professor Emeritus Larry Cuban might change your mind. In his post, Professor Cuban summarizes an informal poll of physicians (published previously at the website, who, like teachers, also work in a so-called "caring profession." The survey found that most doctors think it's inappropriate and unprofessional to have that sort of physical contact with patients. As one doctor said, if the goal is to show your patients that you care, be a good listener rather than a hugger. That sounds right to me too.

Read Professor Cuban's full post on the topic here.


March 31, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 30, 2018

Legal Education Reform Success At Elon Law

Dean Luke Bierman describes how Elon Law successfully reformed it educational program on PrawfsBlawg.  Here is the opening paragraph:

"The devil may be in the details and the proof may be in the pudding but at Elon Law we learn by doing. Adjusting Elon Law’s curriculum and calendar demonstrates that wholesale change can be accomplished to positive effect. Of course, there are many effects that can go into assessing the outcomes of legal education. USN&WR rankings may be one but more on that for another day. Our assessment of the comprehensive redesign undertaken at Elon Law must first be measured by our stated objective 'to create a bridge from legal theory and doctrine to the practice of law.' Likewise, our efforts to address the primary critiques of legal education as too long, too expensive and too disconnected from the profession that we had identified offer another approach for assessment. And our identification of learning outcomes along the logical continuum of preparation in Elon Law’s new curriculum provides yet another point of departure for assessment."

The key point in the above is that Elon has framed its program around "creating a bridge from legal theory and doctrine to the practice of law."  In other words, Elon is taking the cognitive components of legal reasoning and problem-solving and teaching students how to use them in the practice of law.

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wynton Marsalis' 12 ways to practice almost anything from music to schoolwork

Very good advice from jazz great Wynton Marsalis about how to improve at just about anything. From the website called Arban's Method:

  1. Seek out instruction.
  2. Write out a schedule.
  3. Set goals.
  4. Concentrate.
  5. Relax and practice slowly.
  6. Practice hard things longer.
  7. Practice with expression.
  8. Learn from your mistakes.
  9. Don't show off.
  10. Think for yourself.
  11. Be optimistic.
  12. Look for connections.

Read the full post which includes a more detailed explanation for each of these bullet points here.


March 30, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

BYU School of Law discusses ways to teach future practice skills

This post by Robert Ambrogi at Above the Law reports how BYU School of Law recently convened a group of several experts and commentators from around the country to consider how it can best prepare students for the legal practice challenges ahead including teaching skills like leadership, storytelling, technology and providing innovative clinical experiences in negotiation, community law and entrepreneurship.  Here's an excerpt:

How Does A Law School Innovate? Mulling That Question At BYU Law

BYU Law is putting significant effort into thinking about innovation to better prepare its students for an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.


“I want BYU to be known as, if not the most innovative law school in the country, then one of the most innovative law schools in the country.”


With that bold statement, D. Gordon Smith, dean of the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University, kicked off a day of presentations and conversations Friday around where the school is in its journey towards that goal and what more lies ahead.


Present were the members of a professionally diverse advisory board that Smith convened to help the school think through answers to one overarching question: How will BYU prepare students for an increasingly complex and unpredictable world?


Among those attending were Margaret Hagan, director of the Legal Design Lab at Stanford University; Daniel W. Linna Jr., director of the Center for Legal Services Innovation at Michigan State University and creator of the Law School Innovation Index; a judge on the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; two Utah Supreme Court justices; Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes; law firm partners; corporate CEOs; the president of an international human rights foundation; a TV news anchor; and several BYU Law faculty and students.


In law, the word “innovation” is often used as shorthand for leading-edge technologies and next-generation practice models. But during Friday’s meeting, the term encompassed a broader meaning, of how to equip law students with the skills and experience — beyond legal knowledge — that will enable them to succeed in their careers.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


March 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cognitive Biases, EyeWitness Identification, and Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man"

Last night, I watched Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man."  This movie is the true story of a man (played by Henry Fonda) who was falsely accused of robbing cash from an insurance company.   He walked into the company because he wanted to get a loan on his wife's insurance policy so she could have her wisdom teeth removed.  The woman who helped him immediately recognized him as the man who had robbed the office twice before.  Several other woman in the office backed up the identification.  He was arrested and put on trial.  While trying to help her husband prove his innocence, his wife suffered an emotional breakdown.  The man was eventually freed when the real robber was caught trying to hold up a grocery store.  At the police station, he is told the good news.  While there he overhears the eyewitness's identification of the real robber.  You can hear the certainty in the witness's voice as she picks out the robber from a line up.  Of course, she was just as sure with her original identification of the wrong man.

Defense attorneys have often questioned the reliability of eyewitness identifications.  One of the problems with eyewitness identification is cognitive biases--thinking errors that are part of our cognitive processes.

The first problem with the eyewitnesses' identification in "The Wrong Man" was that the first witness made the identification based on intuition (System 1 thinking), rather than careful deliberation (System 2 thinking).  This allowed for cognitive biases to influence the woman's identification.  First, she focused on the man's features that resembled the robber's (the confirmation effect), and she (intuitively) downplayed those features that were different (the Semmelweis effect).  Similarly, because the robberies were emotional events she suffered from the availability heuristic (“The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater ‘availability’ in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.”).

The other eyewitnesses suffered from similar cognitive biases.  When the first witness asked the others about the man, she asked whether the man was the one who had robbed the office.  This is called the framing effect, and it can affect how people perceive events.  If she had asked them whether they recognized the man, they might have come up with a different answer.  All the woman quickly agreed that the man was the robber (the bandwagon effect).  They were also very emotional because of the previous robberies, which affected their perceptions.

At the police station, the witnesses identified the man in a line up.  Of course, they had already seen him before--that day in their office.  This made them sure of their identification.  (the overconfidence effect and confirmation bias.)"

The above illustrates just a few biases that can affect the law and our every day lives.  We need to be vigilant and base our judgments on careful deliberation, not intuition.

(Scott Fruehwald)


March 27, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 26, 2018

“Start at the Very Beginning”: Mastering Cognitive Skills (Legal Reasoning and Problem-Solving) in the First Year of Law School

As I recently mentioned, the PrawfsBlawg is having a symposium on Mike Madison’s For a New Year: An Invitation Regarding Law, Legal Education, and Imagining the Future. There have been some excellent pieces in the symposium. However, it doesn’t have a lot on the most important aspect of legal education reform–the delivery of instruction to students. I think it is especially important to look at how law schools should deliver instruction in the first year because this provides the basis for everything else.

One of Professor Madison’s five themes is professional preparation. Professional preparation begins with the first year of law school. Musicians began by learning scales and chords. Chess players begin by learning chess moves. Baseball players begin by learning how to bat, throw, and field. Lawyers begin with the cognitive basics of legal reasoning and problem-solving.

Law schools should teach their students the five main types of legal reasoning (rule-based reasoning, reasoning by analogy, distinguishing, synthesis, and policy-based reasoning) at the beginning of the first year, and they should then go into the details of legal reasoning and legal analysis throughout the year. Students cannot master advanced legal skills, such as trial practice, brief writing, negotiating, deposition taking, without first thoroughly absorbing the basics of legal reasoning. After the students have mastered these skills, law schools should then teach how to apply these skills through problem-solving.

Law professors should teach these basic skills through a variety of approaches. The Socratic method and case method are an important part of developing students’ cognitive skills. However, professors should employ additional approaches to fully develop first-year students’ abilities. Active learning is the key. With active learning, students retain more knowledge and can better use that knowledge. Active learning techniques include solving problems in class and formative assessment. Professors should also help their students develop better metacognitive skills and better study techniques. For example, studies have shown that self-testing is much more effective than just re-reading. Similarly, spaced learning (studying material throughout the term) is much more effective than cramming.

Professors should also teach their students how to read critically. Reading is thinking; reading is a process. Engaged readers divide reading into three stages: forethought, performance, reflection. The forethought stage involves task perception, self-efficacy, self-motivation, goal setting, and strategic planning. Most important for this stage is identifying the purpose of the reading, putting the reading in context (relating it to prior knowledge), and devising a strategy for the reading. The performance stage encompasses three processes: (1) “attention-focusing,” (2) “the activity itself,” and (3) the “self-monitoring” the student performs while implementing her strategies and understanding the text. In the final stage, readers critically reflect on what they’ve read and consider the implications of the reading. In all these stages the reader should reflect on what they are reading, relate the reading to prior knowledge, and challenge the author. It is particularly important while reading cases to identify the type of reasoning the judge is using and to consider alternatives to the judge’s arguments.

In most areas of human success, this success begins by mastering the basics. You can’t build a strong building without a firm foundation. The first year of law school is the most important one for twenty-first century attorneys.

March 26, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

"We're Teaching Grit the Wrong Way"

This is an article worth reading in the Chronicle of Higher Ed by David DeSteno, a professor of psychology at Northeastern University and Director of its Social Emotions Group, who also recently published a book on the same topic called Emotional Success: The Power of Gratitude, Compassion, and PrideI actually just finished reading Professor's DeSteno's book and it's a good one. Essentially, he argues that relying on executive function to "will" ourselves through situations that require perseverance and "grit" is a doomed strategy that flies in the face of our evolutionary programming. Instead, we should finds ways to leverage pro-social emotions and motivations grounded in gratitude, compassion and pride. You can read another short piece from the New York Times where Professor DeSteno describes his theory of  emotional based perseverance and grit here.  

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from his CHE education piece:

We’re Teaching Grit the Wrong Way


Let’s face it, for most students academic work isn’t intrinsically enjoyable. Even for the highly motivated ones, studying certain subjects or going to certain classes can feel like pulling teeth, especially if it stands in the way of more pleasurable options like watching television or checking updates on Facebook. But, of course, choosing short-term pleasures too frequently bodes ill for eventual success.


The way people usually solve such dilemmas — accepting sacrifices in the present in order to reach future goals — is with self-control. Beginning with Walter Mischel’s marshmallow studies, decades of research have confirmed that those who can delay gratification have better life outcomes. Good self-control has also been shown to be a key component of grit — perseverance in the face of educational challenges. It’s no wonder, then, that colleges have placed great emphasis on teaching students better self-control.


But the strategies that educators are recommending to build that self-control — a reliance on willpower and executive function to suppress emotions and desires for immediate pleasures — are precisely the wrong ones. Besides having a poor long-term success rate in general, the effectiveness of willpower drops precipitously when people are feeling tired, anxious, or stressed. And, unfortunately, that is exactly how many of today’s students often find themselves.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


March 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

PreLaw Magazine ranks the best law schools for practical skills training - 2018 edition

PreLaw Magazine bases its ranking system on a formula that takes into account the school's clinical, externship and simulation offerings compared to the total number of students enrolled. On that basis, PreLaw ranked the Top 10 Schools for practical skills training as follows:

  1.  Northeastern
  2. U. St. Thomas - Minn.
  3. U. New Hampshire
  4. UC Irvine
  5. Yale
  6. U. Arizona
  7. University of Denver
  8. Pepperdine
  9. Brigham Young
  10. Quinnipiac

Click here to read the full companion article.


March 24, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Deadline for submitting proposals extended and registration info for Emory's upcoming Transactional Skills Conference (redux)

For some reason I was having a dickens of a time the other night posting this information on behalf of Professor Kelli Pittman (Emory) about her school's upcoming and wildly popular biennial transactional skills conference; Typepad just doesn't seem to allow the posting of pdf's (but if you know how to do it, please let me know in the comments below). Go here to see info on submitting a proposal for the conference given that the deadline has now been extended. And since Professor Pittman has in the meantime re-sent me the conference registration info as a Word document, I'm pasting it below for all ye faithful to follow. To wit: 



Emory’s Center for Transactional Law and Practice is delighted to announce its sixth biennial conference on the teaching of transactional law and skills. The conference, entitled “To Teach is to Learn Twice: Fostering Excellence in Transactional Law and Skills Education,” will be held at Emory Law, beginning at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, June 1, 2018, and ending at 3:45 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, 2018.

Four New and Different Things about the Conference:

  •  Presentation of the inaugural Tina L. Stark Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Transactional Law and Skills. Note: For information about how to nominate yourself or someone else for this award, please visit
  • New 45-minute “Try-This” time slots for individual presenters to demonstrate in-class activities.
  • Reduced registration fee for new transactional law and skills
  • Reduced registration fee for adjunct


 We are accepting proposals immediately, but in no event later than 5 p.m. on Friday, March

30, 2018.


We welcome you to present on any aspect of transactional law and skills education as long as you view it through the lens of our theme. We expect to receive proposals about theories, programs, curricula, courses, approaches, methods, and specific assignments or exercises that foster excellence in transactional law and skills education. In other words, what works best (excellence in teaching) to achieve particular student outcomes (excellence in learning)? If it’s true that “to teach is to learn twice,” what wisdom can you impart to others who may want to replicate or imitate what you are doing? How have you made yourself a better teacher? And how have you assured that you are achieving the best student outcomes?


Try-This Sessions. Each Friday afternoon “Try-This Session” will be 45-minutes long and will feature one classroom activity and one individual presenter.


Panels. Each Saturday session will be approximately 90 minutes long and feature a panel presenting two or more topics grouped together for synergy.


Please submit the proposal form electronically via the Emory Law website at before 5 p.m. on March 30, 2018.


 As in prior years, some of the conference proceedings as well as the materials distributed by the speakers will be published inTransactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law , a publication of the Clayton Center for Entrepreneurial Law of The University of Tennessee, a co- sponsor of the conference.


 Both attendees and presenters must register for the Conference and pay the appropriate registration fee: $220 (general); $200 (adjunct professor); or $185 (new teacher). Note: A new teacher is someone in their first three years of teaching.


The registration fee includes a pre-conference lunch beginning at 11:30 a.m., snacks, and a reception on June 1, and breakfast, lunch, and snacks on June 2. We are planning an optional dinner for attendees and presenters on Friday evening, June 1, at an additional cost of $50 per person.


Registration is now open for the Conference and the optional Friday night dinner at our Emory Law website at


 Attendees and presenters are responsible for their own travel arrangements and hotel accommodations. Special hotel rates for conference participants are available at the Emory Conference Center Hotel, less than one mile from the conference site at Emory Law. Subject to availability, rates are $149 per night. Free shuttle transportation will be provided between the Emory Conference Center Hotel and Emory Law.


To make a reservation at the special conference rate, call the Emory Conference Center Hotel at 800.933.6679 and mention “The Emory Law Transactional Conference.” Note: The hotel’s special conference rate expires at the end of the day on May 18, 2018. If you encounter any technical difficulties in submitting your proposal or in registering online, please contact Kelli Pittman, Program Coordinator, at or 404.727.3382.


We look forward to seeing you in June!



March 22, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

More on Professor Susan Nevelow Mart's article "The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal {Re}Search"

My co-blogger Scott had previously posted about this important article (here) in which Professor Susan Nevelow Mart, the Director of CU's law library, describes a study she conducted in which she ran an identical search in six leading legal research databases - Casetext, Fastcase, Google Scholar, Lexis Advance, Ravel and Westlaw - yet got completely different results. That's certainly an eye-opener and an insight we should be passing along in the classroom.  Over at the Law Librarian Blog, Joe Hodnicki offers some additional commentary about Professor Mart's article and its coverage by the ABA Journal, suggesting for the same reason that both are a "must read" for every law student and legal researcher. Go check out Joe's post here


March 21, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Proper etiquette for texting in a business context

At least anecdotally, texting has overtaken email as the preferred method of electronic communication for many (to say nothing of using the phone to actually place a call to the other person - no one does that anymore).  So this post by Lynn Gaertner-Johnston at the very helpful Business Writing blog is good and informative one on proper texting etiquette when communicating in a business context. Among the tips, as a preliminary matter, make sure it's OK with the other person beforehand that you communicate by text (and lawyers communicating with clients raises all kinds of professional ethics concerns - see here, here and here, among other links), limit your texts to appropriate business hours, and include your name at the beginning of the message unless your identity will be obvious to the recipient. Check out the full list of tips from Ms. Gaertner-Johnson here which, incidentally, would make a good in-class handout if you plan to teach students how to compose appropriate text messages when communicating with colleagues or clients. 


March 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sample Chapter from Understanding and Overcoming Cognitive Biases For Lawyers And Law Students: Becoming a Better Lawyer Through Cognitive Science

I have uploaded a sample chapter from my book on cognitive biases and the law.  You can find it here.

(Scott Fruehwald)



March 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Deadline extended to March 30 for submitting proposals to Emory's 6th Biennial Transactional Legal Skills Conference to be held on June 1-2

The deadline for submitting proposals for Emory Law School's 6th Biennial transactional legal skills conference to be held on June 1-2 in Atlanta has been extended to March 30. Below is a note from Emory's Professor Sue Payne regarding the extension followed by a link for submitting a proposal:


The end of the school year is fast approaching and we want to give you one last chance to submit a proposal demonstrating what you are doing to foster excellence in the teaching of transactional law and skills.


Therefore, we’ve extended the proposal deadline through Friday, March 30, 2018.


Please submit your proposals as soon as possible. After March 30th, we’ll turn all of the proposals over to our Program Committee, who will notify those accepted and begin putting together the Program Schedule.


Even if you do not submit a proposal, please register for the conference now.


We are reaching far and wide to embrace the whole community of transactional law and skills educators, so please encourage your colleagues – including new teachers and adjunct professors (both at reduced registration fees) – to join us. It will be a wonderful time to gather, talk, share, teach, learn, and celebrate.

 Go here for more details about registering.


March 20, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Comment on Listening to Music (Below)

This study does not surprise me.  Cognitive scientists have discovered that working memory has limited attention, probably only four slots.  Because of this, one must focus his or her limited attention on the task at hand.  Anything that distracts from the task affects learning and effectiveness.  I guess it's time we send multi-tasking to the junk heap, just like we did learning styles.

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Not only should students shut-off their laptops while studying, they should turn off the music too

This study is a few years old, from 2014, but I only just learned of it from U.K. based ed tech blogger Donald ClarkThe researchers found that studying in silence worked best in terms of comprehension compared to studying while listening to music without lyrics as well as listening to music that contains lyrics. However, the latter had the most deleterious effect on reading comprehension according to this small sample study involving 30 participants.  

And remember the so-called Mozart effect?  According to blogger Clark, it turns out that's BS too.


p.s. links to Clark's post on listening to music while studying now corrected - thanks!

March 19, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A book review of "Learning from Practice: A Text for Experiential Legal Education"

This is a book review by Professor Lisa Radtke Bliss (Georgia State) of "Learning from Practice: A Text for Experiential Legal Education" (Leah Wortham, Alexander Scherr, Nancy Maurer, and Susan l. Brooks, eds., West Academic Pub. 3d ed. 2016), published at 67 J. Legal Educ. 338 (2017) and available here. From the intro:

Experiential education is indisputably an essential part of the law school curriculum. This is so thanks to a long history of clinical legal education and scholarship of clinical pedagogy, and to a continually growing number of publications, reports, studies, and standards that emphasize the importance of developing professional competencies and skills to prepare students for success in the legal profession. Experiential education includes law clinics, externships, simulations, and courses that may have combined characteristics of these three major types. With the rise of experiential education, scholars have published ideas about how best to conceptualize, deliver, and integrate experiential education into the curriculum. Among the range of different experiential offerings, externships have undergone significant growth and development. At the same time, scholarship about integrating professional identity formation as part of preparing students for practice has proliferated. The formation of professional identity has long been an integral part of clinical legal education through students' exploration of what it means to inhabit the role of lawyer in context.


The third edition of Learning from Practice: A Text for Experiential Legal Education brings together these two goals of contemporary legal education and provides a comprehensive, student-centered collection of reading, exercises, and questions designed to promote student reflection. While the book begins with an introduction to students in an externship, and the book in general is designed as a resource to accompany student learning in the externship context, the editors understood the third edition might also have broader application, hence the editors' inclusion of the subtitle, “A Text for Experiential Legal Education.” The editors recognized that given the expansion of different forms of experiential education, and changes in the delivery of legal services, the concepts and topics addressed in the book could serve as a resource for multiple types of courses and experiences, particularly those courses that involve some form of real legal practice.


The editors identify and support their confidence in “well-designed and carefully delivered externship courses,” and this thoughtful book provides the resources necessary to provide an excellent externship seminar. The book captures and highlights the richness of experience that comes from exploring the world of practice through field placements. It provides concrete tools, focused on reflection, to help students make meaning of those experiences.


March 18, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Register for the Access to Justice Conference

Here are the details:

Access to justice

Access to Justice Conference--Early Bird Registration Deadline Extended, Program Now Available

The Consortium for Access to Justice: A Collaborative Community of Law Practice Incubators and Nonprofit Law Firms and Georgia State University College of Law have extended the deadline for early bird registration for theAccess to Justice 5 Conference.  The new early bird deadline is March 26 for the conference which takes place  on April 12-14.  The Program for the conference is now posted on the conference website. 

To register for the conference and hotels, and to view the program, go to the conference webpage:

The conference is designed for people involved in incubator or other post-graduate programs for solo, small firm, and nonprofit practitioners, as well as for those who want to know more about how these programs work and how they contribute to enhancing social justice through improved access to law. 

Along with the basics of creating and implementing incubator programs, non-profit and sliding scale law firms, the conference will address, among other topics,

  • Training lawyers for sustainable "justice gap" practice;
  • Marketing and community outreach;
  • Assessing the impact of programs and practices on the community, individual clients, and lawyer satisfaction;
  • Using technology and other tools to deliver services to "justice gap" clients; and
  • Collaboration between bench, bar and academia


The conference includes speakers, panels, workshops and hands-on technology sessions to help participants develop concrete take-aways for immediate impact on their work.  Early bird registration rates end March 26.



March 17, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 16, 2018

A New Perspective on the Nature/Nurture Debate

Greatness as a Manifestation of Experience Producing Drives by Wendy Johnson in The Complexity of Greatness: Beyond Talent Or Practice.

Abstract: "We are endlessly fascinated by the stories of the lives of geniuses and their trials and tribulations in producing their works of lasting significance.  We wonder if they are somehow inherently different from the rest of us, or if they just somehow got a better start.  Increasingly, however, psychologists are realizing that this nature-nurture dichotomy is an inappropriate way of thinking about the development of excellent achievements.  Experience-producing drive theory offers a possible explanatory process: Genes serve to drive people to seek the kinds of experiences that build high levels of skill and knowledge that in turn fuel creative achievements.  This chapter explores how this theory can be used to understand greatness."

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 16, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 15, 2018

"Why are so many high school graduates bad writers when they arrive at college?"

From Inside Higher Ed:

Bad Writing

We are living in the Golden Age of Bad Writing Instruction.


Mind you, the teaching of writing has always been problematic in the K-12 world. If you are of a Certain Age (i.e. mine) you may have fond memories of having to turn in a formal outline with every class paper, and the approach of many students (i.e. mine) was to write a paper, and then write an outline to go with it. And there has always been a problem with teachers who are uncomfortable with the squishiness of writing instruction, and so focus on the cold, hard, mechanical, red pen markable elements of composition.


But with the rise of the Big Standardized Test over the past fifteen years, writing instruction has taken a huge hit. The kind of writing that can be scored by a computer program (or by a human being chained to an algorithm that renders the human no smarter than a computer program) is not good writing.


My own department has become quite adept at gaming BS Test writing sections. Here are some of the proven rules for producing well-rated standardized writing:


Rewrite the prompt as your first sentence. Yes, you often sound like a dope, but this time-honored technique still works.


Fill up the page. Write lots of words. Don’t worry about being redundant—just keep filing up space.


Use some big fancy words. Do not worry about whether you are using them correctly or not. My personal favorite is “plethora,” but you can use whatever you like.


If you are taking a handwritten test, write as neatly as you can. Paragraph clearly. If your indents tend to be unclear, skip a line between paragraphs.


None of these are the mark of good writing, but for years, these rules have yielded good scores. The challenge for us in the classroom is to make clear that this is what we do to make test manufacturers happy.

. . . . 

Continue reading here.


March 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Teaching Remedies as a Capstone Course by Russell Weaver & David Partlett

Russell Weaver & David Partlett, Teaching Remedies as a Capstone Course

"The debate about the divide between the legal academy and the legal profession is perennial and, in times of economic stress, of increasing urgency. Historically, law school critics have portrayed law professors as living their lives, and teaching their classes, from “ivory towers” that are divorced from the day-to-day realities of law practice. While law professors might teach students how to read cases and analyze precedent, so the critique went, they did little to teach students how to function like practicing lawyers."

(Scott Fruehwald)

March 15, 2018 | Permalink | Comments (0)