- Experiential Learning Across the Curriculum (at Gonzaga University School of Law), June 12-14, 2015
Idea For April 2015
Letting the Students Run the Review
As the semester comes racing to a close, many faculty members are facing review sessions and the inevitable question of how best to conduct them. Trying to cover the entire course in a single session may be unrealistic and may inadvertently create a false impression that you only consider a limited subset of the course "important" in preparing for the final exam. Most of us don't assign material we don't consider important, and yet, students tend to put much stock in the content of reviews (and material omitted from reviews - even though omissions may be inadvertent). On the other hand, covering the course too generally may serve not much more of a purpose than reminding students of what they could easily discover if they simply reviewed the syllabus or course plan. Finally, just asking students to come prepared with questions might result in you facing a group of mute students who are all waiting for other students to ask questions. The ideally efficient, yet comprehensive, course review can be elusive, and I sometimes find myself issuing disclaimers at the review - "the omission of a particular nuance does not mean it is unimportant" - or unhelpful assurances - "everything we read and discussed is subject to testing."
Washburn University School of Law
Article For March 2015
Jeff Thaler, Meeting Law Students' Experiential Needs in the Classroom: Building an Administrative Law Practicum Implementing the Revised ABA Standards, (2015).
As we well know, but as television-viewers might not believe, much modern law practice occurs outside of the courtroom. An increasing amount of it involves advocating for clients in front of regulatory bodies, which necessarily implicates different skills from courtroom-based practice.
Jeff Thaler, Assistant University Counsel & Visiting Professor of Energy Law & Policy at the University of Maine Schools of Law & Economics, addressed this gap in education by creating a practicum course in administrative law. He offers blueprints for others to follow in his article Meeting Law Students' Experiential Needs in the Classroom: Building an Administrative Law Practicum Implementing the Revised ABA Standards.
The Revised ABA standards Professor Thaler's title mentions require learning outcomes related to student competency in substance, analysis, professionalism, and skills. Experiential learning opportunities, and specifically a practicum course, can target each of those core abilities. A practicum, as Professor Thaler defines, is "a teaching methodology enabling students to develop practical research, writing, and oral advocacy skill using real-world problems from a substantive area of the law in a classroom setting."
The practicum course Professor Thaler created was based on administrative and ethics law issues generally, with a particular focus upon regulatory issues involving wind power projects in Maine. His article details his syllabus, along with the requirements of his course. Students in his practicum classroom were given an evolving case study and tasked with writing client memos, orally presenting their results, direct and cross-examining expert witnesses, and presenting opening and closing arguments. Interspersed throughout the course, Professor Thaler arranged an impressive collection of panelists from the practice area to address the students on the substantive and procedural issues involved.
The article is short and wonderfully readable. He didn't authorize me to say this, but I would imagine, just judging from the tone of the article, that Professor Thaler would be incredibly welcoming of any questions and, to the extent you like what you read about the practicum course he created, would happily help you think through something similar.
To the extent that you're interested in this kind of learning experience for your students, check out the article and while you're online, go ahead and register for our experiential learning conference in June!
[Read fulltext at SSRN (453 KB PDF)]
Washburn University School of Law