June 20, 2008
Should OSU seriously consider a two-year JD program?
The sitemeter tells me that a few dozen folks are still stopping by this blog, but it seems nobody wants to talk about views on the 1L experience. Eager to generate some comments, perhaps this related topic will garner some response:
Should OSU seriously considering something akin to Northwestern's new two-year JD program?
June 14, 2008
Seeking reflections on the whole 1L experience
I VERY MUCH hope the interesting and informative dialogue continues in the comment threads here and here concerning our class. But I also hope many of you will use this post to share broader reflections on your entire 1L experience (especially now that you are really just weeks away from starting your 2L experience). Specifically, I would be grateful for thoughts/comments on these two topics:
- What were the best and worst aspects of your educational experience as a first-year law student?
- What were the best and worst aspects of your educational experience as a Moritz law student?
Though these are similar topics, I am eager to hear reflections both (1) on the basic elements of the 1L program that nearly all law students nationwide experience (e.g., relatively large classes on traditional subjects, traditional in-class exams, etc.), and (2) on any unique aspects of the Moritz College of Law that were uniquely good or bad (e.g., one spring class ending mid-semester, small sections in the fall, legal writing taught by regular faculty, etc).
Thanks! (And I really do hope to see more comments specifically about our class and exam here and here. I can only hope to do better in the future if I have a developed understanding of what I did most wrong and what/how I can/should improve my efforts to innovate.)
June 11, 2008
Refining class/exam reflections through two questions
I am really enjoying the continuing blog dialogue in the comments to my prior post, though I am sad to see continued vitriol (which leads me to wonder if my course innovations may have been more effective if there was not so much bad blood within the section). In any event, rather than attack or defend what specifically transpired in our Legislation class, I would be grateful if students would devote some serious energy to these two questions:
1. Do you think there a value in having a non-traditional course in the 1L curriculum (which may require a certain measure of uncertainty about exam formats and grading expectations)?
2. Do you think that traditional in-class exams provide a valid and fair means to evaluate and judge students' talents and abilities as lawyers?
My (flawed?) approach to our Legislation class and exam was driven by my strong belief, after 10 years of teaching that has led to growing frustrations about law school norms and status quo biases, that (a) there is great value in a non-traditional course during the 1L year, and (b) traditional in-class exams are a poor and often very unfair means to evaluate and judge students' talents and abilities.
These views grow from my strong belief in diversity, broadly conceived. I fear that the standard 1L curriculum tends to teach and reinforce only one limited set of lawyer skills and perspectives, and then rewards those students who happen to be able to show off these limited skills during a time-pressured exam. Through our class and assignments, I was hoping to challenge students to develop a distinct set of skills and perspectives, and then asked students to show off in a much different (and perhaps quite uncertain) way.
As I have candidly admitted, it is clear to me that I may have failed more than I succeeded with my innovations in our Legislation class, and this may be the collective price we all paid because I was trying something new for the first time. (Relatedly, I know that the first time I taught Crim Law and Crim Pro and LW&A and other standard course I made a lot of mistakes and then improved in subsequent years.)
What is still not clear is whether my fundamental interest in innovation and diversity in class and in exam format is appreciated or loathed. Perhaps 1Ls, who feel so much pressure from so many sources, cannot (nor should not have to) deal with radical twists on the standard 1L program. Perhaps innovation should only be tried in upper-level course or in pass-fail courses. Perhaps innovation should come in smaller steps with better explanation. Or perhaps students do not share my frustration with the status quo (though I hear from a lot of alums about how misguided traditional law school programming is.)
Folks should continue to feel free attacking me, or the course, or the exam or anything else that makes them feel better. But I hope the comments will generally migrate back to the two questions set forth above.
June 5, 2008
Grades are out, more reactions sought....
My understanding is that grades for our legislation class were released today. I succeeded in "pushing" the curve a bit, but I am still sad I could not give even more top grades: once the grades were un-blinded, I saw a lot of students who I thought did really good work throughout the semester not having these efforts fully reflected in their final grade. Such is the "curse" of blind grading and forced curves.
At this point, of course, I am eager for more class/grade reactions and reflections now that you all know how you officially did (and now that you have the nice weather to temper your tempers). In addition, I am trying to promote a broader grade debate over here, where I hope you can and will contribute thoughts about whether we should seriously consider doing away with letter grades altogether.