Without a Prayer?: Spirituality and Performance in Law School – A Reply to Professor Taylor
17 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2011 Last revised: 30 May 2014
Date Written: January 21, 2011
Professor Scott Taylor’s Spirituality and Academic Performance at a Catholic Law School: An Empirical Study was disheartening to Catholics and fellow travelers because it reported finding no relationship between the spirituality of law students and their academic performance at a prominent Catholic law school committed to its religious identity. In this essay, I explain how Professor Taylor’s study – the first and only one of its kind – is so methodologically flawed it leaves us unable to conclude anything about whether spirituality is related to academic performance. After a review of the few prior research studies on spirituality and performance, I explain the methodological problems with the Taylor study that make its results unreliable. The Taylor study serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of empirical research conducted by law school professors, and my explication of the flaws in the study will point the way for how such studies should be conducted in the future. I conclude with observations on the value of empiricism in the legal academy and advice on how law professors could best undertake empirical studies in ways that will ensure their scientific validity and reliability.
Keywords: Academic Performance, Law School, Student Spirituality, Religiously-Affiliated Law Schools, Law and Religion, Empirical Legal Studies, Law and Psychology, Legal Scholarship
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