JD-Next: A Randomized Experiment of an Online Scalable Program to Prepare Diverse Students for Law School
58 Pages Posted: 13 May 2021 Last revised: 28 May 2021
Date Written: May 28, 2021
We sought to expose diverse potential law students to the methods of JD education and to prepare them for success in law school. This paper reports on the efficacy of the 2019 pilot test of the precursor to the JD-Next program: a fully-online, non-credit, 7.5-week course to train potential JD students in case reading and analysis skills, prior to their first year of law school. We recruited a national sample of potential JD students, enriched for racial/ethnic diversity so that less than half were White non-Hispanics, and randomized them to the course or an active placebo control group (where participants watched legal television shows). We also recruited a sample of volunteers at one university who self-selected into the course and who were propensity score-matched to non-participants, using university archival data. We found that participating in the course is associated with substantial improvement in grades for the targeted 1L course (Contracts) and overall first semester 1L GPA. We also report substantial student confidence gains and satisfaction with the course, in qualitative and quantitative terms, based on a survey at three points in time (pre-course, post-course, and post-semester). In a companion article, we report on the validity and reliability of the JD-Next exam for use in law school admissions.
Keywords: legal education, academic success, academic achievement, bridge program, pipeline program, case briefing, case analysis, legal analysis, law school GPA, online curriculum, law school admissions, student confidence, diversity and inclusion, disparities
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