Teaching Skills of Legal Analysis: Does the Emperor Have Any Clothes?

18 Legal Writing 85 (2012)

UNM School of Law Research Paper 2013-09

35 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2011 Last revised: 11 Dec 2013

David J. Herring

Independent

Collin Lynch

North Carolina State University - College of Engineering; University of Pittsburgh - Learning Research and Development Center & Intelligent Systems

Date Written: December 5, 2013

Abstract

This Article adds to the on-going discussion about the assessment of student learning outcomes in law schools. It addresses the assessment of first-year law students’ basic legal reading and reasoning skills, with a particular examination of students’ capacity to read closely related cases, detect indeterminacies of meaning among cases, and determine which similarities and distinctions are relevant in light of an assigned professional role or task. Following a detailed review of the prior research in this area, the paper reports the results of a study that employed pre- and post-test instruments to measure the impact of the traditional case-dialogue teaching methodology on students’ skills of legal reading and reasoning. The analysis of students’ normalized learning gains indicates that while some of the participating students realized an improvement in their reading and reasoning skills, the student population as a whole did not achieve substantial learning gains. This central finding is consistent with the findings from the prior studies in this area. The results across studies call for the development of teaching approaches other than the traditional case-dialogue method and for the continued assessment of learning gains.

Keywords: legal education, educational assessment, assessment, student learning outcomes, teaching, teaching outcomes, law students, methodology, case-dialog, Carnegie Report

JEL Classification: K19, I21

Suggested Citation

Herring, David J. and Lynch, Collin, Teaching Skills of Legal Analysis: Does the Emperor Have Any Clothes? (December 5, 2013). 18 Legal Writing 85 (2012); UNM School of Law Research Paper 2013-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1856109 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1856109

David J. Herring (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

6958 Reynolds Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15208

Collin Lynch

North Carolina State University - College of Engineering ( email )

United States

University of Pittsburgh - Learning Research and Development Center & Intelligent Systems ( email )

LRDC Rm 729
3939 O'Hara St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-624-7039 (Phone)

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