Principles for Enhancing Legal Education (2001)
What can faculty and students do to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in law school? What principles define good pedagogical practice in legal education? How can principles of good practice be implemented in the law classroom?
These critical questions are the subject of Principles for Enhancing Legal Education, a package which consists of a videotape and written materials. This resource was created for the Institute for Law School Teaching in 2001 by Gerry Hess (Gonzaga), Paula Lustbader (Seattle University), and Laurie Zimet (Hastings).
Interest in and literature about how to improve law school pedagogy have been increasing, especially given the changing demographics of law students. These written materials and the videotape were created to provoke reflection and generate discussion about how faculty and teaching methods affect today's students and their learning.
The videotape features comments from students at seven law schools (Brooklyn, Gonzaga, Hastings, Iowa, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Seattle University). These schools were selected to provide a cross-section (geographic, public/private, demographic, size) of experiences in legal education. A coordinator from each institution selected students who varied in age, ethnicity, gender, learning styles, physical and learning disabilities, race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, year in school, and class rank. All of the students were asked to respond to the following questions:
- What occurred in the classroom that interfered with your ability to learn?
- What occurred in the classroom that enhanced your learning?
Seventy-two students were interviewed, producing eighteen hours of videotape, which were edited into this 29-minute program.
The students' comments reflect a set of principles of good practice for contemporary higher education. The videotape and written materials apply the principles to legal education, explore their implications, and describe practical methods to implement them in the law school classroom. The principles, which are not ranked in order of importance, establish that effective learning environments:
- Promote student-faculty contact;
- Articulate clear, high expectations;
- Use time effectively;
- Respect differences among students;
- Foster cooperation;
- Provide prompt feedback; and
- Encourage active learning.