Assessing Differently and Using Empirical Studies to See If it Makes a Difference: Can Law Schools Do it Better?
Andrea Anne Curcio
Georgia State University - College of Law
Quinnipiac Law Review, Vol. 27, 2009
Georgia State University College of Law, Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2009-22
Recent scholarly literature criticizes law school assessment methods as being pedagogically unsound, an ineffective way to develop good lawyers, and as standing as an unjustifiable barrier to diversifying the profession. With the publication of Educating Lawyers, and Best Practices, the academy finally has begun to engage in the kind of scholarly scrutiny of assessment that has long been the practice in other disciplines. This essay seeks to move the discussion from a focus on law school assessment shortcomings, to a discussion of the scholarly work necessary to examine and improve assessments. It does this by providing concrete suggestions for alternative law school assessments which attempt to incorporate into large-section courses the Carnegie apprenticeships of legal analysis, practical skills, and professional identity. The essay acknowledges that whether these alternatives, or even our existing assessment methods, are valid and reliable is an undetermined question. Thus, the essay urges empirical exploration of law school assessments. It provides guidance to those seeking to design empirical assessment research studies and it suggests some empirical assessment studies that can and should be done. It concludes by arguing that given the high stakes of law school assessments, law professors should devote the same level of scrutiny to assessments as is given to other scholarly pursuits.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: legal education, law school, empirical research, assessment, Carnegie Report
JEL Classification: I20, I29, K00
Date posted: October 13, 2009 ; Last revised: December 13, 2012