The Dynamics of the Contemporary Law School Classroom: Looking at Laptops Through a Learning Style Lens

29 Pages Posted: 8 May 2015 Last revised: 13 May 2015

See all articles by Eric A. DeGroff

Eric A. DeGroff

Regent University - School of Law

Date Written: October 1, 2014

Abstract

The Millennial Generation is at ease with modern technology and with juggling multiple tasks. Many of them, however, come to law school less prepared in other ways for the rigor of legal education. Their learning styles, visual orientation, short attention spans, and previous learning experiences make them less suited for the focused and reflective thinking that are critical to learning legal analysis and linear reasoning. Research strongly suggests that some learning styles are more compatible than others with the discipline of analytical thinking and the demands of legal education. Students with learning styles less compatible with law school expectations face significant challenges even under the best of circumstances. This article suggests that the use of laptops in the classroom may exacerbate the challenges these students already face.

The article addresses the laptop issue in the context of learning styles and the dynamics of the learning process. It briefly discusses the history of the laptop issue, traces a significant body of research over the last several decades documenting the distracting effect of laptops even when used in connection with classroom activities, and presents the results of the author's experimentation with a no-laptop policy in his first-year Property course. The author does not suggest removing laptops from the law school experience entirely, but recommends that professors of first-year doctrinal courses consider the adoption of a no-laptop policy for their classes.

Keywords: laptops, learning styles, learning theory, law school pedagogy

JEL Classification: C80, C89, C93, I2, I20, I21

Suggested Citation

DeGroff, Eric A., The Dynamics of the Contemporary Law School Classroom: Looking at Laptops Through a Learning Style Lens (October 1, 2014). University of Dayton Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2603409

Eric A. DeGroff (Contact Author)

Regent University - School of Law ( email )

1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
United States

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