Getting Students Psyched: Using Psychology to Encourage Classroom Participation

11 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2015 Last revised: 11 Oct 2015

See all articles by Marybeth Herald

Marybeth Herald

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( (deceased)

Date Written: June 13, 2015


Students feel stress in the classroom. Too much anxiety drains cognitive resources and interferes with the learning process. Lack of control contributes to that stress. They waste time, viewing precious learning opportunities as threats to wellbeing, sometimes leading to poor academic outcomes. This essay offers six suggestions for acknowledging these problems and moving from law to psychology journals for possible solutions.

This essay focuses on strategies to encourage students to take charge of their own learning, continuing a project started in the author's book: Marybeth Herald, YOUR BRAIN AND LAW SCHOOL (Carolina Academic Press 2014).

Drawing out the anxious and wary can be as challenging for a professor as preparing the substance of the material. Nevertheless, a student’s success depends on the student’s willingness to direct his or her own learning. Ultimately, no matter how scintillating your lectures, discussion questions, or visual aids, the ability to participate in the challenging project of learning the law will depend on the student’s willingness to actively participate in the process. By confronting the issue and offering concrete suggestions, the instructor can give students tools for lifelong learning.

Keywords: classroom participation, classroom teaching, law and psychology, brain science, psychology, legal education, law students, active learning

JEL Classification: K49

Suggested Citation

Herald, Marybeth, Getting Students Psyched: Using Psychology to Encourage Classroom Participation (June 13, 2015). Nevada Law Journal, Vol. 15, p. 744, 2015, Thomas Jefferson School of Law Research Paper No. 2617595, Available at SSRN:

Marybeth Herald (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( (deceased)

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States

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