Focus on Intentional Pedagogy at “Faculty Teaching Day”

Many law schools have annual faculty retreats or “scholarship days” to showcase faculty scholarship.  My home institution instituted that tradition two years ago.  For the first time this year, we also held a “Faculty Teaching Day,” a half-day program for the full-time faculty to discuss pedagogy, consider recent developments in legal education and entertain ponderous questions about the future of law teaching.  It was a worthwhile program that helped me appreciate what my colleagues are doing in the classroom.  (We don’t have a formal post-tenure review or “classroom visit” as part of the annual evaluation process.)

Here is a quick list of the day’s sessions:

  • Overview of MacCrate, Carnegie and Best Practices
  • Learning From Examinations and Evaluations
  • Student Perspectives on Excellent Teaching
  • Incorporating Comparative Law into Domestic Law Classes
  • Teaching in the First Year: Is it Different?  Should it Be?
  • Powerpoint Do’s, Don’ts and What If’s
  • Skills Throughout the Curriculum
  • Adult Learning Styles
  • Delivering Post-Millennial Legal Education

Full program descriptions appear after the jump.  I’d be happy to share additional information with anyone who is interested.

-Bridget Crawford

Pace Law School

Faculty Teaching Day

April 23, 2010

Session 1: Overview of MacCrate, Carnegie and Best Practices

A substantive introduction to “Faculty Teaching Day” begins with a review of some of the key concepts contained in three main reports on the status of legal education: the MacCrate Report (1992), the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers (2007) and Roy Stuckey’s Best Practices for Legal Education (2007). Professor Gross will explain how and why legal educators should be deeply engaged in evaluating their teaching, how reflective teaching can lead to successful learning outcomes, and how dialogues about effective teaching can serve as a catalyst for transforming legal education.

Session 2: Learning From Examinations and Evaluations

The panelists of Session 2 will reflect on what we, as teachers, can learn from two sources: student performance on examinations and other assignments and end-of-semester student evaluations.  Panelists will discuss a variety of topics including assessing the validity of test instruments, prospective adaptation of teaching methods based on student performance and how well student performance on examinations reflects achievement of desired educational objectives.  How can student feedback

assist in evaluating the effectiveness of teaching and learning?  What does SCATE data tell us (or obscure)? How can evaluations be used to improve teaching?

Session 3: Students as Teachers, Teachers as Students

The panelists of Session 3 offer students’ perspectives on excellent teaching.  The student-participants will address questions such as these: What teaching methods have you encountered most frequently at Pace Law School, and what “meta messages” do those teaching methods send to students?  Based on your experience so far, what types of learning opportunities have helped you develop the knowledge and skills you need for workplace success?  In what ways could the law school curriculum be enhanced to promote professionalism among students? What things can a teacher do to create a supportive learning environment?  How can an instructor best encourage a diversity of viewpoints in the classroom?  In what ways does technology help or a hinder 21st century students?  What do you wish your professors really knew about what (and how) students think?

Session 4: Simultaneous Sessions

Session 4A:  Where (and When) There Matters Here: Incorporating Comparative Law into Domestic Law Classes A presentation on the contexts in which comparative law might be incorporated into domestic (U.S.) law classes.

Session 4B:   Teaching in the First Year: (In)Doctrine Training or Doctrinal Teaching? A discussion on how, whether and why teaching in the first-year courses is (or should be) different from teaching in upper-level courses.  Please come ready to share your ideas.

Session 4C: Powerpoint Do’s, Don’ts and What If’s

Reflections on teaching with Powerpoint presentations.  These can help or hinder learning, depending on their design, execution and delivery.  Three teachers who have used Powerpoint in their classes discuss and demonstrate some of the “do’s” and “don’ts” of this powerful program.  The panelists will draw on their own classroom experiences to highlight some of the potential pitfalls and “best practices” of law teaching with Powerpoint.  Ever thought about the tension between text and graphics?  Animation versus stable objects? Small fonts versus big fonts?  Notes versus talking points?  Distribution of slides in advance versus after class?  Worried about the 10/20/30 rule?  You will after this session.

Session 5:  Skills Throughout the Curriculum

The panelists of Session 5 will address ways in which law professors can engage students in their own learning process by incorporating and implementing skills training in traditional doctrinal classes as well as experiential courses. The panelists will also discuss best practices to achieve “skills” training and ways to measure what skills students have learned.   What are the aspects of clinics, simulation courses and doctrinal courses that make them well- or less-suited to teaching skills?  What skills do we want our students to learn from a particular course and/or class?  How do we ensure our students become lifelong engaged learners?

Session 6: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic You Are?  Yoda and Adult Learning Styles

The panelists of Session 6 will provide an overview of the characteristics of adult learning styles.  Words like “problem-centered,” “results-oriented,” and “skeptical” often apply to adult learners.  What does this mean for what we teach and how we teach it?  Does it really matter if a student is a visual learner, an auditory learner or a kinesthetic learner?  To what extent should, could or do learning styles guide the law school classroom teachers?

Session 7: Delivering Post-Millennial Legal Education

Three faculty members who have incorporated distance learning into their teaching will reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of the techniques they have used.  The presenters will report and reflect on possible uses of technology in delivering legal education in the twenty-first century.

Session 8: The Brief Debrief

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One Response to Focus on Intentional Pedagogy at “Faculty Teaching Day”

  1. We do a similar thing at Osgoode (york uni, toronto) and have been doing it for about five years now. We choose different themes each year (“designing learner centred courses”, “fostering active learning”, “technology for learning”). Faculty turn out well for this event, and we try to make it fun and employ the “best practices” we’re talking about. It’s made a big difference in the level of discussion we can have as a faculty about all curriculum issues….including “reform”.
    thanks for your blog. required reading, i really enjoy it!

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