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Review: Strategies & Techniques for Integrating DEI into the Core Law Curriculum…

Review: Strategies & Techniques for Integrating DEI into the Core Law Curriculum…

Review by Emily Grant, Washburn University School of Law.

Professor Teri McMurtry-Chubb once again steps into a gap to provide much-needed information, suggestions, and resources for the law teaching community.  This time, she has written a book about incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into all of our classrooms.

Strategies & Techniques for Integrating DEI into the Core Law Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to DEI Pedagogy, Course Planning, and Classroom Practice by Teri McMurtry-Chubb is available for free download here:  https://www.wklegaledu.com/resources/law-school-faculty/law-school-faculty

The book features DEI learning outcomes and assessments, course planning templates for each course in the core law curriculum, and racial trauma-informed teaching approaches. It also includes FAQs and discussion questions by chapter to work through as you and your colleagues plan and implement DEI curricular initiatives at your law school. The book is organized in three main parts, as described in the Introduction:

Part I, Chapter 1, The Scope of DEI Education & Pedagogy details the evolution of teaching with a DEI lens. DEI education and pedagogy work to make the greatest positive change within the core structures of legal education by strategically employing critical pedagogies and curricula. Chapter 2, The First Amendment, Academic Freedom, and the DEI Curricular Lens, examines the pushback students, faculty, and administration have encountered when advocating for DEI pedagogical and curricular interventions. This pushback has been cast as a conflict around academic freedom. This chapter discusses the current conflicts in the battle between DEI and academic freedom, and provides strategies for how to navigate these issues on law school campuses. Chapter 3, Assessing the Institutional Climate for DEI Curricula, explores the varied considerations professors of all ranks and statuses (e.g., Assistant, Associate, and Full Professors, non-tenure-track full-time faculty; adjunct faculty, etc.) should make when implementing DEI issues into the classroom and curriculum. This chapter explores how rank, status, and campus climate influence which pedagogical and curricular choices are available to faculty. It also examines professor positionality and teaching, or how a professor “presents” to the class impacts available DEI curricular choices and pedagogical strategies.

Part II, Chapter 4, Racial Trauma Informed Approaches to DEI Pedagogy, discusses how microaggressions, macroaggressions, and other discriminatory practices leave an indelible mark on those who have survived them. The psychological and social science communities have examined these phenomena as trauma, and have detailed the emotional, psychological, and physical effects they have on minoritized groups. It is imperative that professors have an understanding of racial trauma and racial trauma informed pedagogies as they prepare to discuss DEI issues in the classroom and design DEI curricula. Chapter 5, Course Planning and Assessment for the DEI Classroom & Curriculum, provides instruction on how to build a course that integrates a DEI curricular lens. It offers course planning templates that link skills and knowledge to learning outcomes, performance criteria, and learning activities – both for traditional and online classroom environments. It also connects the information in Chapter 4: Racial Trauma Informed Approaches to DEI Pedagogy to the course planning and assessment processes. Chapter 6, Developing Instructional Materials for DEI Pedagogy & Practice, lays out the processes for developing classroom DEI instructional materials that serve as learning activities to advance and measure learning outcomes. The chapter surveys multimedia resources, traditional learning techniques, microlearning techniques, and the like that are appropriate for traditional and online learning environments. It also provides levels of difficulty (easy, intermediate, difficult, and advanced) at which professors can access this work.

Answers to a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) is located in Chapter 7. If you are working through this book with a committee, faculty, or other group, Chapter 7 also provides discussion questions for Chapters 1-6 to facilitate group dialogue. Lastly, Part III, Chapters 8-14, provides examples of course planning, instructional materials, and assessment for core curriculum courses at the easy, intermediate, and difficult levels. The courses included are Contracts, Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Property, Constitutional Law, Legal Writing, and Torts.

Précis

Précis

This teaching idea comes to you from the directors of ILTL [1]

Précis

Précis is a French word, pronounced pray-see, that refers to a way of summarizing text to include the meaning of the original text but to be as concise as possible. It can be an effective tool to solidify understanding of a particular document, and it could be used a couple of different ways in a law school setting.

Often, in thinking about legal briefs or memos, experts talk about a topic sentence outline—making sure the topic sentence of each individual paragraph flows in a cohesive argument throughout the document.  The exercise of condensing each paragraph to just one topic sentence is a version of précis.

Students could use this technique to more deeply understand a case opinion as well.  Number the paragraphs of an assigned opinion, and have students create a précis.  Essentially, they will be writing a topic sentence for each paragraph of the judicial opinion in their own words, except when the words used by the court are terms of art, then they should use those terms of art.  The goal is to essentially create a topic sentence outline of the opinion that would allow the reader to follow the full course of reasoning.  It’s not a summary; students should write in the voice of the court.

Important pieces of a précis:  Who is the actor?  What is the function of the paragraph? What is the substantive content of the paragraph? And then focus on conciseness—use clear, simple language and eliminate unnecessary words.

For example, a précis of the equal protection discussion in Loving v. Virginia might look something like this:

1 The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia upheld the constitutionality of the State’s ban against interracial marriages because (1) preserving the racial integrity of its citizens was deemed to be a legitimate governmental purpose and (2) marriage traditionally lies within the sphere of state regulation rather than federal regulation.
2 The State argues that (1) the Equal Protection Clause does not apply because it was meant only to prohibit differential punishment based on race and (2) as a result, the Court should apply deferential rational basis review to the laws.
3 The mere fact of equal application does not remove a law from equal protection scrutiny; laws containing racial classifications must meet a very heavy burden of justification.
4 The legislative history surrounding adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment does not clearly support the contention that it was meant to address only criminal laws that imposed differential punishment on the basis of race.
5 Precedent to the contrary has been repudiated.
6 Laws, like this one, that rely on distinctions based on race, must be shown to be necessary to the accomplishment of some permissible state objective other than race discrimination itself.
7 The law is supported by no overriding legitimate purpose outside of racial discrimination itself.
8 Anti-miscegenation laws also violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
9 Marriage is a fundamental right which cannot be infringed upon based on racial classifications.

[1] Hat tip: Susannah Pollvogt, Associate Dean of Student Success, University of Arkansas School of Law

How to Use Formative Assessment Data to Tailor Teaching

How to Use Formative Assessment Data to Tailor Teaching

By: Cynthia M. Ho, Professor at Loyola University School of Law

The principle of using frequent (multiple times a class and every week) formative assessment data to tailor teaching underlies Click & Learn, a Civil Procedure teaching tool that I created with Professor Angela Upchurch and Professor Susan Gilles.  However, this approach works in any doctrinal class.

How Can Formative Assessment Data Help Teachers?

Formative assessment data can help you know what students have mastered.  Saved time can focus on tougher concepts and/or permit other activities such as group exercises.

Alternatively, if there are topics that a substantial number of students did not get (i.e., at least 20-25% wrong), class time can be used to improve understanding.

What Formative Assessment Data?

Data can be derived from both “objective” (i.e. MC and T/F) data and narrative (i.e., essay answer and discussion board posts) assessments.

Data can provide trends to inform your teaching.  “Objective” data is easiest to scan.  But even narrative data can be efficiently reviewed if you review a small sample.

A Word of Caution: The Need to Focus Students on Learning

Teachers know that the point of formative assessment is to help students learn.  To reinforce this focus, students should get full credit towards class participation for all timely and “professional” submissions (i.e., doing the entire assignment in more than 30 seconds).

Three Options to Tailor Class

Here’s an overview of three options to tailor class:

Type of Formative Assessment Example How much class tailoring +/-
1. In-class only In-class polling Minimal +  easiest to incorporate;

–  least tailoring

2. Outside class only (a) “Objective”

(b) Narrative

Medium + more tailoring, no need to adjust “on the fly”

-no ability to tailor during class

3. Combo-in & outside Both of the above Maximum + maximum tailoring

– maximum prep time

In addition, here are the benefits of each type of assessment for tailoring how you teach class.

Type of Formative Assessment Example Goals
1.In-class only In-class polling -review of material just covered to ensure mastery

-emphasizes a point

– provides application practice

– changes the pace of class and maintains engagement

2. Outside class only (a) “Objective”

(b) Narrative

-Objective questions with detailed explanation provide  feedback to help ensure the entire class has mastery o

-provides application practice

3. Combo-in & outside Both of the above -all of the above, plus long-term learning benefits

Now that you know the big picture, let’s dive into the details.

  1. In-Class Only

Here’s a few examples of how to use in-class polling.

In-class polling to recap material just discussed

One way to incorporate polling is to ask a question after introducing a concept.  So, for example, after discussing what is a trade secret (TS), a polling question could ask students to apply what they know.  The left shows slides introducing the concept whereas the right shows the polling question.

In-class polling to emphasize a point in the assigned reading

A polling question can emphasize an issue since students will remember something if they get it wrong.  Here is one example that reinforces an issue students otherwise often miss without a poll:

  1. Outside Class only

Data based on formative assessment outside class can also help tailor class time.

For topics where the data shows students are struggling, these can be handled in two ways.  First, the question can be displayed again in class to solicit discussion of the right (and wrong) answer, together with reasoning.

Here’s one example where the question students previously had trouble with is on the left, with the key Civil Procedure issue of 1331 subject matter jurisdiction is on the right:

Alternatively, a new application question can be posed in class that asks students to discuss the same concept, but in a new factual setting such as the following:

Isn’t it a waste of time to review issues in class if formative assessment provided an answer?

No!  Even after students read an explanation, they may need more reinforcement.  Students say they prefer to review tougher questions in class even after reading the explanation.

How do you use data from narrative assignments?

Class discussion can also be tailored based on sampled essay data.  For example, after reviewing a few essay answers from a Civil Procedure, class a slide addressing noted issues can help organize the in-class discussion as shown below:

  1. Combo – in and outside

The best way to tailor teaching involves combining the previously discussed approaches.  Basically, conduct formative assessment outside class and then use that data to focus class time on needed issues, including in-class polling. This seems to promote long-term learning; students studying for the bar often email with delight to note that they remember concepts studied two years ago.

Tailoring can be truly maximized with a flipped law class where students learn material before  class. Click & Learn enables faculty to easily do this.

Even without using a flipped class approach, the Combo approach still provides more polling benefits. How?  Let’s explore.

A new in-class polling question may use the same facts from an outside-class “objective” question but pose new answer choices.  These choices can focus on issues underlying wrong answers students previously chose but stated slightly differently. This is shown below:

Data from narrative answers can be used to create a new in-class polling question to assess the entire class and reveal to confused students that they are not alone.  Here’s one example:

Data from narrative answers can also be used to help students compare what is and is not a strong statement to include in an essay answer.  Here’s one example with answer choices from sampled student answers:

Now what?

If you want more info, check out [How to choose a Formative Assessment Platform] and/or slides from the related Summer 2021 Conference presentation are available here.

And, of course, the best way of learning is by doing.  So, hopefully you’re now inspired to do more with your own data using some of these techniques!

How to Choose a Formative Assessment Platform to Optimize Data-Based Teaching

How to Choose a Formative Assessment Platform to Optimize Data-Based Teaching

By:  Cynthia M. Ho, Professor at Loyola University School of Law

Formative assessment not only helps students learn, but the data from this can help faculty teach more efficiently as discussed here. However, not all formative assessment tools are created equal for this purpose.  If you want to optimize data to tailor your teaching, you’ve come to the right place!

What types of formative assessment?

Although there are a number of types of formative assessment, this post will focus on using data from short answer questions (MC, T/F, word cloud, etc.)

In class or outside of class?

Assessment tools may differ based on when they are used – in or outside of class.

There are a variety of in-class tools. There are also a number of tools for outside class assessment.  These include CALI lessons, quizzes associated with casebooks, as well as platforms for Civil Procedure and Legal Research.  Also, you can create your own questions in a learning management system (Blackboard, Canvas, TWEN, etc).

Given a number of options, which one should you choose?  Keep reading!

What to look for in choosing a formative assessment platform
The considerations differ for in-class vs. outside class assessment. To help you focus on what matters to you, the following chart highlights features for each to potentially consider.

Assessment method Features to consider
In-class – Is it easy for you to use in class?  (i.e. do you need to exist a slide presentation to start polling)

– Do you want to have the option to not reveal the correct answer immediately (if you want to encourage discussion of all answers first)

– Do you want to be able to see data on individual student performance and/or have a downloadable excel of data (Tophat and Socrative can but CALI’s Instapoll is always anonymous)

– Would you like students to be able to re-do questions later on their own time before seeing the correct answer for additional review (Tophat is good for this)

– Do you want the ability to have students engage in competitive teams (Socrative & Kahoot focus on this)

Outside class -Do students receive immediate and detailed feedback, including an explanation of wrong answers?

-Does data for faculty include:

-Data on class overall (i.e. how many got question right)?

-Data on selection of each answer option (i.e. A-D) since wrong answers may reveal different flaws in understanding?

-Online ability to jump from class data to actual question?

-Data on performance of individual students over several assignments to identify persistent issues that may indicate a need for more academic support?

Examples of good feedback for outside of class “objective” data:

 Feedback should ideally provide an explanation of what makes the correct answer best, as well as flaw(s) in the incorrect answer.

 Here’s some examples:

Now that you know what is helpful feedback for students, it’s time to see some examples of helpful data for faculty.

Examples of helpful detailed data on all answers to individual questions

Since I don’t have access to all platforms, I’m going to use examples available to all, beginning with a quiz in TWEN.

Here is the data from a quiz I gave students that reveals how many students chose the correct answer(s), as noted with an asterisk, as well as how many chose incorrect answers.

For those that teach Civil Procedure, Click & Learn can also provide data on individual questions.  This tool provides a bar graph of the number of students that got each question correct (darker color on the left) as well as the number that got it wrong.  A quick scan of the chart below reveals that question 2 was the toughest question for students.  The “Answer Breakdown” reveals how many students selected each choice for Q2.  It shows most chose the correct answer A, as noted in teal, and that the second-most popular choice was C.

Does the assessment platform link data to questions?

A program that enables you to easily link between overall student data and the question text is also helpful.  Otherwise you have to remember the question the students struggled with and then go into the Quiz itself to find the actual text of the question and answers.  Here are two examples again from TWEN and Click & Learn.

As shown below, the left side shows class performance for all questions.  Clicking on the question number reveals the actual text of the question and answers shown on the right.

Click & Learn provides the same functionality for those that teach Civil Procedure and adopt the text (i.e. require students to purchase it).  The below diagram shows what a faculty would see by clicking on Question 2.

What next?

Once you’ve chosen your formative assessment tool, you’re prepared to start using this data to tailor your class.  For details on that, check out How to Use Formative Assessment Data to Tailor Teaching “which will be next week’s blog post”.

 

Formative Assessment in Doctrinal Classes: Rethinking Grade Appeals

Formative Assessment in Doctrinal Classes: Rethinking Grade Appeals

Reviewed by Sandra Simpson, Gonzaga University School of Law

Article: Formative Assessment in Doctrinal Classes: Rethinking Grade Appeals

Written by: Professor Roberto Corrada, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Published: Journal of Legal Education, Volume 63, Number 2 (November 2013)

In this article, Professor Corrada makes a compelling case for allowing students to appeal their grade on the mid-term exam.  Professor Corrada realized that creating long and detailed rubrics for exams was not helpful if students never reviewed them.  To give them an incentive to review his exam comments, he began giving a mid-term exam, which, he reasoned would encourage students to look at the feedback.  He noted when students came to review their exams with him, many of them had good arguments and probably deserved a better grade.  He felt that he demanded excellence from his students and so shouldn’t he demand that of himself.  The idea of allowing students to appeal their midterm grade was his solution. If the students had a chance to appeal, they might glean more from the review of their midterm.

In developing this idea, he came up with a system which is both efficient and workable. His appeal rate is about 70%, and he believes almost every student reviews his/her/their exam.  Among the many advantages he has found is that it encourages students to think critically about what they are writing and to question assumptions. Further, through explanation students often realize they don’t write what they mean; learning to fix this common error is key to a successful law practice.

The article addresses concerns including the extra time this process takes (which is not as much as one might expect) and gives the reader a step-by-step guide to implementing this appeals process.


Institute for Law Teaching and Learning