Why Skills Ain't Easy: The Deceptive Difficulty Discovered in the Cognitive Taxonomy of Legal Learning Objectives
Charlotte School of Law; Appalachian School of Law
October 1, 2011
The Law Teacher, Vol. 18, No. 2, Spring 2012
When looking at many courses that are dubbed “skills” courses, many law professors have the initial reaction that they are “easier” than doctrinal courses. In my forthcoming article, The Taxonomy of Legal Learning Objectives and Outcome Measurements, I demonstrate that skills are both more difficult to teach and more difficult to learn than concepts. Concepts include doctrine, policy, theory, and facts.
Many law professors might be reluctant to accept this hierarchy of difficulty. However, there is general consensus across the most widely accepted educational taxonomies that skills are harder to learn and harder to teach than concepts. So, the question becomes, why do law school “skills” courses appear easier to teach and learn than courses that teach doctrine and theory?
This introductory essay explains why skills courses appear to be easier, but aren't. The article also discusses the factors that force professors who teach skills to create skills learning objectives that are sometimes entry-level skills.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 3
Keywords: law school, pedagogy, carnegie, best practices, skills, doctrine, casebook
Date posted: October 7, 2011 ; Last revised: December 31, 2012