The Psychology of Hope: Legal Educators Must Strengthen Students' 'Waypower' to Succeed

AALS Section on Academic Support Learning Curve, p. 13, Winter 2012

4 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2013

See all articles by Cassandra Louise Hill

Cassandra Louise Hill

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2012

Abstract

My essay, The Psychology of Hope: Legal Educators Must Strengthen Students’ “Waypower” to Succeed, was accepted for publication in the 2011 Learning Curve, AALS Academic Support Section Newsletter. In this essay, I examine the need to cultivate hope in law students by honing their waypower or mental capability to succeed. The power of hopeful thinking is often undervalued. According to C.R. Snyder, the father of hope theory, hope reflects a mental set in which we have the willpower to move toward a goal and the “waypower” or mental capacity to devise effective methods, plans, or paths to reach that goal. Both the willpower to succeed and the waypower to solve problems are required to have a truly hopeful attitude. Applying this formula to legal education, if law students lack either the willpower or the waypower for their goals, they cannot have high hope to succeed. And hope is a key predictor of academic performance in law school. Most incoming law students generally enter law school with positive attitudes and hopeful ambitions. But a law student’s will to succeed does not automatically translate into hopeful thinking; law students also need to have the requisite mental waypower.

I propose that legal educators strengthen law students’ waypower — their tools, strategies, and capacities to be successful law students and competent lawyers. First, the essay encourages faculty to set high, but realistic, expectations for student performance. Second, the essay reminds faculty of their obligation to equip students with the skills needed to achieve learning objectives and then provide students with varied opportunities for formative assessment and practice. By taking these steps, law faculty empower students with the waypower and, in turn, the hope to succeed academically and professionally.

Suggested Citation

Hill, Cassandra Louise, The Psychology of Hope: Legal Educators Must Strengthen Students' 'Waypower' to Succeed (December 1, 2012). AALS Section on Academic Support Learning Curve, p. 13, Winter 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2221571

Cassandra Louise Hill (Contact Author)

Texas Southern University - Thurgood Marshall School of Law ( email )

3100 Cleburne Street
Houston, TX 77004
United States
713-313-1190 (Phone)
713-313-1049 (Fax)

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