Putting Students at the Center of Legal Education: How an Emphasis on Outcome Measures in the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools Might Transform the Educational Experience of Law Students
Southern Illinois University Law Journal, Vol. 35, p. 225, 2011
25 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2010 Last revised: 16 Dec 2012
Date Written: May 6, 2011
Legal education has been notably absent from the assessment movement that has been underway in American higher education for over twenty-five years. Accreditors of virtually every other area of professional education in the United States have adopted assessment of educational outcomes as part of their accreditation process. Legal education is poised to join this movement as the American Bar Association considers revisions to its Standards for Approval of Law Schools that would emphasize educational outcomes.
This article explores how the assessment of educational outcomes might be implemented in legal education at the institutional, programmatic and course levels. The article describes how assessment might improve the educational experience of law students by clarifying what students are supposed to learn and by giving students more feedback on their progress and how such changes might affect the work of academic support faculty. The article concludes that those law schools that embrace the revised Standards in such a way as to create a culture of assessment at their institutions will transform the educational experience of law students.
Keywords: ABA, American Bar Association, ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools, Student Learning Outcomes, Educational Outcomes, Outcome Measures, Assessment, Culture of Assessment, Formative Assessment, Summative Assessment, Academic Support, Accreditation, Institutional Effectiveness
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