Review: Alternative Justifications for Academic Support II

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By Rory Bahadur from Washburn University School of Law

Louis N. Schulze Jr., Alternative Justifications for Academic Support II: How “Academic Support Across the Curriculum” Helps Meet the Goals of the Carnegie Report and Best Practices, 40 Capital University Law Review 1 (2012) [Read fulltext at SSRN (2.17 MB PDF)]

This article does two important things. First it summarizes the Carnegie and Best Practices reports on legal education and lists their main findings and recommendations. Many of us have a general idea of the reports’ contents but are less clear about the detailed, tangible findings and recommendations of the reports.

Next this article mitigates what would appear to be monumental and labor intensive reforms the reports recommend by pointing out that many academic support programs and professionals already utilize the pedagogical approaches suggested by the reports. As a result, law schools can meet the challenges of the Carnegie and Best Practices reports by making more expansive use of academic support programs.

Professor Schulze identifies eleven discreet areas where Academic Support programs already employ methodologies which are congruent with the reports’ recommendations. Academic Support Programs:

  1. increase opportunities for formative assessment;
  2. make teaching explicit;
  3. generate future lawyers who are “self-regulated learners”;
  4. foster an environment where “faculty with different strengths work in a complimentary relationship” instead of a “collection of discrete activities without coherence”;
  5. crystallize institutional intentionality and assist in institutional assessment;
  6. support autonomy, provide a healthy learning environment, and “create a campus culture that is a positive force”;
  7. fully commit to preparing students for the bar exam;
  8. use multiple methods of instruction and reduce reliance on Socratic Dialogue and the Case Method;
  9. train students on receiving and using feedback;
  10. assess whether students learn what is taught; and
  11. ensure that summative assessments are also formative assessments.

Professor Schulze also examines in detail, the specific Academic Support methodologies currently employed by Academic Support Professionals.

This article is a must read for individual professors or administrators seriously considering how to incorporate the recommendations of the Carnegie and Best Practices reports in the least disruptive and most seamless fashions, by making use of preexisting institutional structures and programs.

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