The Major Elements of Legal Education Reform by Scott Fruehwald

  1. Legal education reform should employ scholarship from general education scholars.
  2. Law schools should teach their students that intelligence is fluid, not fixed.  Intelligence can be improved by engaged learners using proper learning methods.
  3. Above all, legal education should be active.  Lectures and other passive learning approaches are not effective for long-term retention.
  4. Law professors should teach students how to become metacognitive learners. They should make their students aware of how people learn.
  5. To develop metacognitive thinkers, law professors should encourage students to "put themselves in the shoes of others," such as the opposing attorney, judges, and their professors.
  6. Law professors should teach students to monitor their learning.
  7. Law professors should encourage their students to reflect on what they have read and what they have learned.
  8. Law professors should teach their students to become self-regulated learners.
  9. Law professors should motivate their students.
  10. Law professors should help their students set learning goals.
  11. Law professors should set goals for their course, each unit, and each class.  They should give their students the list of goals.
  12. Law professors should be explicit in their teaching; no more "hide the ball."
  13. Law professors should adopt a variety of teaching approaches.
  14. Law professors can use the Socratic method, but they should use it properly and as only one among several teaching approaches.
  15. Law professors should ask their students probing questions to determine whether they understand the material and to develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills.
  16. Law professors should help students discern deep patterns in knowledge, such as how experts organize adverse possession.
  17. All doctrinal courses should include problem solving exercises or written assignments.  Students remember more when they apply doctrine.
  18. Law professors should demonstrate the steps in problem solving in class (modeling of strategies).
  19. Law professors should teach their students how to choose among alternative strategies.
  20. Law professors should help law students break down complex tasks into component skills.
  21. Law professors should use scaffolding--"providing hints and cues when students first try to perform the skill," such as using partially filled out diagrams or leading questions before reading a case.
  22. Law professors should use graphic organizers, such as learning trees, charts, or outlines, to help students learn better and make connections between ideas.
  23. All law school classes should provide frequent formative assessment with prompt, detailed feedback.
  24. Professors should use rubrics ("sets of detailed written criteria used to assess student performance") to aid feedback.
  25. Law professors should explicitly teach their students legal miniskills, such as case analysis, legal reading, rule-based reasoning, analogical reasoning, how to distinguish cases, how to synthesize cases, policy-based analysis, etc.
  26. Law professors should have their student do think aloud exercises.
  27. Law professors should help their students learn how to transfer knowledge and skills from one domain to another.  (torts to contracts; psychology to law; contract doctrine to contract drafting)
  28. Law professors should use cooperative learning in the proper circumstances.
  29. Law professors should allow their students as much self-determination as possible.  Adult learners prefer to control their learning.
  30. Law schools and law professors should teach their students the study skills necessary for succeeding in law school.
  31. Spacing studying, opposed to massing it, aids in retaining material in long-term memory.
  32. Law professors should encourage students to reflect on what they learned the same day as a class.  Professors should encourage students to synthesize and rewrite their notes.  Synthesis of materials greatly increases learning.
  33. Law professors should teach their students how to become reader-oriented writers, rather than writer-oriented writers.  In other words, writers should strive to communicate their ideas as fully as possible to their readers.
  34. Law professors should encourage their student to keep learning journals.  Law professors should encourage their students to use graphic organizers in their journals.
  35. Law professors should encourage their students to self-test themselves while studying.  Recall of material creates more retention in long-term memory than just rereading the material.
  36. Law schools and law professors should teach their students to be engaged readers.
  37. Law professors should teach their students how to become "deliberate learners."  Deliberate learners work toward specific goals, avoid distractions, constantly monitor their learning, and repeat a specific strategy over and over to improve the details  of that strategy.  Think of a cellist practicing the interpretation of a passage in a Brahms sonata.
  38. Law professors should have frequent office hours because students learn best one-on-one.
  39. Law schools should teach their students how to effectively use study groups.
  40. Law students should take at least one skills course, experiential course, or clinic every semester of their second and third years.
  41. Law schools should provide courses such as contract drafting, transactional skills, practical real estate transactions, and estate planning drafting.
  42. Law professors should improve their own teaching through reflection.  After every class, professors should evaluate whether their teaching that day was effective.

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