The Other Side of the Story: Using Graphic Organizers to Counter the Counter-Analysis Quandary
28 Pages Posted: 11 Jun 2009 Last revised: 3 Jul 2010
Date Written: June 9, 2009
In law school, it is critical for students to look at issues from both sides, whether in responding to a law school exam hypothetical or in writing predictive memorandum assignments. In teaching students to engage in thoughtful legal analysis, therefore, professors should provide strategies to help students address counter-analysis as a critical component of the analysis. Developing a method for effectively teaching counter-analysis is important because good lawyering requires complex analysis that recognizes the subtleties of the situation being analyzed.
This article begins by defining counter-analysis generally and using social science and educational psychology theory to explain why the process is difficult. The article next examines relevant learning theory about cognition and illustrates how learning tools, such as graphic organizers, can assist with encoding analytical skills in the student’s long-term memory. The article then offers several examples for how law professors can apply cognitive learning theory to their classroom teaching of counter-analysis using graphic organizers. The article concludes by arguing that the teaching of counter-analysis, while difficult, is critical to fully develop a student’s analytic ability and should be taught using organized, systematic, active instructional techniques.
Keywords: counter-analysis, counter-argument, graphic organizers, cognitive learning theory, teaching, legal analysis
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