Law Students are Different from the General Population: Empirical Findings Regarding Learning Styles
Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, Vol. 17, No. 3, p. 153, 2009
10 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2009 Last revised: 12 Dec 2012
The authors conducted an empirical study comparing the learning styles of law students with young adults at other educational institutions. The law school sample population came from St. John's University School of Law in New York and Stetson University College of Law in Florida. The law school data were compared with the learning styles of a random sample of college and graduate students, provided by Performance Concepts International. All subjects assessed their learning styles by using Building Excellence ("BE"). BE is an on-line assessment tool.
The BE profiles used in this study resembled the class learning-style profiles taken at the respective law schools in prior years. Thus the consistent BE profiles of law school students confirmed that the law school data set was reliable.
The Dunn and Dunn Model was used because it of its comprehensive design. The Model currently includes 26 learning-style elements. Data for this study included results of these elements.
In this study, the results showed that the learning styles of law students differed significantly from college and graduate students for 14 different elements of the 26 elements studies. To have significant findings for 14 categories, and to have each with this level of significance, is unusual. Some of the learning-style preferences of law students comport with our commonly held understanding, such as having a stronger preference for Verbal Kinesthetic tendencies (they learn by speaking while simultaneously listening). However, the general student population was more tactual, as opposed to the law population, despite the proliferation of laptops in the law school classroom.
The findings confirm observations that professors may have about law students, but some findings are surprising.
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By Orin Kerr