Square Pegs and Round Holes: Differentiated Instruction and the Law School Classroom
Square Pegs and Round Holes: Differentiated Instruction and the Law School Classroom, 48 MITCHELL HAMLINE L. REV. 1095 (2022).
45 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2022
Date Written: May 1, 2022
Adapting to the needs of student learners while adequately preparing them for the challenges of the bar exam, and the demands of practice, may seem impossible. This Article shares a theoretical framework built from cognitive psychology, neuroscience, and educational theories that legal educators can use. That theoretical framework, commonly referred to as an instructional strategy, is differentiated instruction.1 This Article first describes differentiated instruction, which originated in K-12 education and has now been translated into higher education. 2 Second, this Article explores the value that differentiated instruction would add to the law school classroom.3 Third, this Article situates differentiated instruction within the context of popular teaching and learning theories to share how differentiated instruction is compatible with what law professors do now and how some modifications in current methods can amplify the learning process.4 Finally, this Article applies differentiated instruction in the law school classroom by presenting concrete examples that translate differentiated instruction to the law school classroom.5 This Article presents a series of modifications to commonly used law school instructional strategies to enhance the ability of the professor to respond to the needs of learners. In addition, this Article presents a series of more innovative instructional strategies that use student choice to leverage learning potential and achievement. Law students have a range of experiences, preparations, and interests. As this Article demonstrates, differentiated instruction is a framework that allows law school educators to adapt and respond to the needs of all learners rather than forcing square pegs into round holes.
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