Friday, May 18, 2007

Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching

Howard Katz of Charlotte Law School and Kevon Oneill of the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law have made their research paper entitled Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching: A Primer for New Teachers available on the Social Science Research Network. Its aim is to provide a "detailed and comprehensive advice on how to teach a law school course - from choosing a book and designing a syllabus to orchestrating the classroom experience to creating and grading the final exam".

From the Introduction:

"(...) this article will stress the need to be transparent with your students — to be open in revealing the structure of your course, identifying key points to be retained from a given lesson, and flagging important transitions as you move through the semester".

"Other themes flow from this fundamental point. Our emphasis on planning — selecting and discarding in advance particular goals, topics, and approaches for your course — is designed to prevent students from perceiving your presentation as formless and rudderless. We advocate something akin to the 'message discipline' successfully employed by modern presidential campaigns".

"Your chances for successful communication will be greatly enhanced if you sit down far in advance of your first classroom session, select a modest number of goals, topics, and approaches, and then stress those selections throughout the semester".

"Throughout this article, we stress the importance of strategy in conjunction with technique. It is easy to think of improvements in teaching as merely adding a few innovations or 'tricks' to one’s repertoire. We do not underestimate the importance of specific classroom methods, but we try to make the case that prior strategic planning — of what you want to accomplish and how you’ll go about doing it — is just as important as any particular tactic, if not more so".

"Finally, a word about politics. The advice contained in this article can be employed regardless of your ideological perspective and regardless of whether you teach from that perspective. Our approach neither advocates nor discourages the incorporation of such perspectives as feminist theory, critical race theory, or law and economics. Our principal concern is with effective communication. The content of that communication is up to you. We believe that the approach we suggest will enhance your ability to reach your students, regardless of the message you are trying to convey".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:04 pm

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