Empirical Evidence that Formative Assessments Improve Law Students' Final Exam Performance
Journal of Legal Education, 2012
25 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2011 Last revised: 25 Oct 2011
Date Written: 2011
Despite the recent widespread call for law professors to incorporate more feedback during the semester, there is a relative dearth of empirical evidence about the impact of practice materials and feedback on law student performance. This study begins to fill that gap. Using five ungraded quizzes, a graded midterm, and reflection exercises, this study shows that feedback improved student performance on a cumulative final exam up to a full letter grade compared to a cohort with only a traditional end-of-semester final exam. The study confirms an earlier study showing that learning gains from formative assessments concentrate among those with stronger LSAT scores and UGPAs. The study discovers that, due to the weak correlation between LSAT scores and UGPAs and first year law grades, the benefit of formative assessments reaches students with both above and below the median first year law grades. This article discusses the formative assessment methodology that led to significant final exam performance improvement for two-thirds of a large-section Evidence course. It also explores reasons why one-third of the students, those with weaker LSAT or UGPAs, did not get a discernible benefit from the practice materials and suggests areas for future work.
Keywords: law school, legal education, legal pedagogy, pedagogy, empirical legal studies, assessment, law students, empirical research, law student performance
JEL Classification: K00, I21, I29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation