Does Practice Make Perfect? An Empirical Examination of the Impact of Practice Essays on Essay Exam Performance

45 Pages Posted: 21 May 2008 Last revised: 10 Dec 2012

Andrea Anne Curcio

Georgia State University - College of Law

Gregory Todd Jones

University of Georgia - Terry College of Business; Georgia State University - Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution; Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods

Tanya Washington

Georgia State University - College of Law

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

This article sets out an easily duplicable, cost-effective way to empirically measure the impact of teaching innovations. It does so in the context of examining the impact of five required essay writing exercises which focused on teaching first-year law students to break a legal rule into its component parts and perform complex factual analysis within the applicable doctrinal framework. The article discusses the not-so-surprising empirical finding that practice essay exercises accompanied by generalized feedback improve first-year law student essay exam performance with regard to the skills that were the focus of the practice exercises. It also discusses a somewhat more surprising finding: students who received the most statistically significant benefit from the practice exercises were students with above-the-median LSAT scores and above-the-median UGPAs. The article explores potential reasons that the practice exercises did not have the same benefit for all students, including students' potentially different metacognitive skills and the impact of the in-class exam speededness factor. It proposes suggestions for improving the effectiveness of future in-class writing exercises and it suggests ideas for future studies. In sum, this article lays the groundwork for those interested in empirical exploration of the effectiveness of any given teaching methodology.

Keywords: practice essays, empirical study, metacognition, law school exam performance, speededness

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Curcio, Andrea Anne and Jones, Gregory Todd and Washington, Tanya, Does Practice Make Perfect? An Empirical Examination of the Impact of Practice Essays on Essay Exam Performance (2008). Florida State University Law Review, Vol. 35, p. 272, 2008; Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2008-02. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1135351

Andrea Anne Curcio (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Gregory Todd Jones

University of Georgia - Terry College of Business ( email )

Brooks Hall
Athens, GA 30602-6254
United States

Georgia State University - Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution ( email )

PO Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods ( email )

Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 10
D-53113 Bonn, 53113
Germany

Tanya Washington

Georgia State University - College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 4037
Atlanta, GA 30302-4037
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
204
Rank
119,208
Abstract Views
1,542