Practice and Feedback

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By Michael Hunter Schwartz from Washburn University School of Law

You have read Educating Lawyers and Best Practices, and you now are convinced your students would benefit from practice and feedback. And, then, you recall the sea of 75 or 80 or even 110 students in your class, and a silent scream seeps out, “I will die trying.” You can survive and even thrive providing formative assessment. There are a wide range of techniques you can use to provide practice and feedback and live to tell about it…

Consider the following possibilities:

» Administer a short assignment (one or two page answers) as a take-home practice exam and limit yourself to one positive comment and one suggestion for improvement

» Hand out a past exam question and give those students who show you a completed answer your model answer, rubric or, at least, issue outline

» Require students to answer a past exam question and go over the answer in class the next day (even using Socratic-style questioning if you are so inclined)

» Require students to answer a past exam question and then exchange their papers with a peer and provide peer feedback using a model answer, rubric or issue analysis

» Require students to answer a past exam question and go over (anonymously) an example student answer (or two)

» Create a short multiple-choice practice test and have students take the test on TWEN or Blackboard

» Integrate one or two multiple-choice questions into your PowerPoint slides and use one of the Classroom Response Systems out there (the clickers or CALI’s) to provide immediate, on-the-spot feedback

Institute for Law Teaching and Learning