The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Examples and Model-Based Learning in the Law School Classroom

24 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2014

See all articles by Terrill Pollman

Terrill Pollman

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Date Written: August 29, 2014

Abstract

Responding to a changing landscape of law practice, law schools are searching for ways to structure the classroom experience and broader curriculum to promote more efficient and better learning outcomes. Although imitation, modeling, and the use of examples have become pre-eminent features of modern legal education, these pedagogies have remained largely unexamined. This article shows the power of teaching with examples in both the traditional and legal writing classroom, as well as how skillfully to limit the use of such pedagogy for maximum effect. Specifically, this article applies the findings of cognitive load research and composition theory to show that using worked examples is a superior pedagogy for novice learners, but that as students progress, they learn less from examples and need more opportunities for problem-solving. The article further explores the implications of this insight for curricular design and reform.

Keywords: model-based learning, legal education, pedagogy, cognitive load theory, educational psychology, composition theory, curriculum design

Suggested Citation

Pollman, Terrill, The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Examples and Model-Based Learning in the Law School Classroom (August 29, 2014). Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2489226

Terrill Pollman (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

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