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Friday, September 16, 2005

Teaching Styles: A Non-Scientific Survey

I'd like to take an informal blog survey about how law professors teach. If you don't mind, please weigh in on the survey.*

1. Please state your name and institution, if you feel comfortable doing so.

2. What classes do you teach? (And what is their approximate average size?)

3. How long have you been teaching?

4. As of right now, do you generally use:

a. Socratic method
b. Modified socratic (such as with "pass" options)
c. Purely lecture
d. Clinical
e. Lecture and Problems / Lecture with required participation
f. Purely problems
g. Discussion groups
h. Other (please explain)

(If you vary between classes, please elaborate -- "I use socratic in my big evidence class but discussion group in my smaller death penalty class.")

5. Do you use any of the following (and if so, how often):

a. Powerpoint slides.
b. TWEN or other pre-packaged classroom software
c. An official class website (non-TWEN)
d. A blog for class purposes
e. Any other technological tools of interest

6. If you would like to volunteer any other aspects of your teaching style that might be of interest to Prawfsblawg readers (i.e., "I always do a practice exam mid-semester" or "I make students submit a mock brief" or the like), please feel free to add them as well.


*Note for Kate Litvak -- I'm aware that this survey is completely unscientific and is methodologically imperfect. I promise I won't try to extract a model out of it.

Posted by Kaimi Wenger on September 16, 2005 at 02:40 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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And since I wouldn't want to ask our readers to do something I'm not willing to do myself:

1. Kaimi Wenger, Thomas Jefferson School of Law
2. Wills, Trusts, Corporations, Securities Reg. All but Sec-Reg are large classes. Sec-Reg has 15 people.
3. One semester.
4. Lecture with problems and participation (Sec-Reg); Lecture with participation (Wills)
5. Powerpoint in Wills; none in Sec-Reg.
6. I'm requiring a short paper (5 pages) as well as exam in Sec-Reg. It seemed like a good way to get the students involved in engaging the issues. We'll see how it pans out.

Posted by: Kaimi | Sep 16, 2005 2:45:18 PM

1. Dave Hoffman, Temple University - Beasley School of Law
2. Contracts (70), L&E Seminar (TBD)
3. 3 semesters.
4. Socratic + 2 passes.
5. (a) Powerpoint very rarely; (b) Blackboard yes.
6. Practice mid-term in contracts.

Posted by: Dave Hoffman | Sep 16, 2005 3:34:08 PM

1. Dan Markel
2. Crim pro (bail to jail), seminar on advanced torts and punitive damages, basic crim law in the spring.
3. four weeks!
4. I do a mixture of Socratic and group problems, and some role-plays.
5. I do TWEN and discussion boards (mandatory for both classes), and powerpoint in the bigger classes, but not in the seminar.
6. I have them do peer-review of the drafts of the final essays for the seminar.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Sep 16, 2005 4:09:08 PM

1. Tim Zinnecker, South Texas College of Law
2. Secured Transactions (25-60); Payment Systems (25-70); Consumer Bankruptcy (30-50)
3. Since 1994
4. Secured Transactions and Payment Systems -- almost exlusively problems, using random recitation; Consumer Bankruptcy -- mostly problems, some cases, some lecture; random recitation
5. Blackboard only

Posted by: tz | Sep 16, 2005 4:12:43 PM

1. Tung Yin, Iowa
2. Con Law I (20-22), Corporate Crimes (30-40), National Security Law seminar (12)
3. 3 years
4. modified Socratic for Con Law I and Corporate Crimes; big discussion group for the National Security Law seminar
5. none

Posted by: Tung Yin | Sep 16, 2005 4:28:18 PM

Kaimi: a true scholar writes a model *before* conducting a survey. A real star writes a model *instead* of conducting a survey.

Posted by: Kate Litvak | Sep 16, 2005 4:35:10 PM

1. Joshua Wright, George Mason
2. Antitrust (30), Contracts (60)
3. 3 semesters at law school, a few more years of straight econ
4. Contracts: modified socratic; Antitrust (lecture w. participation earlier on, increasing towards more discussion as semester moves along)
5. Powerpoint, TWEN

Posted by: Joshua Wright | Sep 16, 2005 4:38:02 PM

1. Brooks Holland, Gonzaga Law School.
2. Criminal Law (96), Professional Responsibility (63), and Con Law I (Spring-Size TBD, but probably the same as Crim Law).
3. Another newbie.
4. I guess you'd call it modified Socratic. A lot of back-and-forth. Some in-class problems, especially in Professional Responsibility. A bit with discussion groups. Yesterday in Professional Responsibility we did a moot court exercise with the 1st Amendment-attorney advertising cases. Gave the students a fact pattern, divided them into groups that were designated as judge panels or law offices for one side or the other. They got 10-15 minutes to prepare in groups and assign the attorney from each group to argue the case, and off we went! It worked OK (the students were great), but I will try to tweak a few things with future efforts, especially time allocation.
5. Powerpoint (sort of). TWEN with Discussion Boards. Put some transferred intent Q's up there earlier today--Good thing the students cannot get onto the CrimProf listserve!
6. Ungraded practice midterm for the 1Ls in Crim Law.
7. I really have no idea what Kater Litvak's comment means, but I claim no standing as either scholar or star, so I guess that's OK.

Posted by: Brooks | Sep 16, 2005 5:51:16 PM

1. John Kang, St. Thomas U. School of Law (Miami)
2. Con Law I (52).
3. Seven years for undergrads in poli sci at Michigan (I taught as lecturer con law theory). Just two months at law school, though.
4. Mostly Socratic.
5. I'm giving two multiple choice quizzes plus a half-multiple choice final exam. I've asked three students each week to write two multiple choice questions to discuss with the entire class. I think it might help the student question writers to sharpen their understanding of the material and also potentially help the rest of the class think through multiple choice questions. Plus, I think it might give me an idea about how specific students are understanding the material.

As a student, I never really liked multiple choice tests in law school but I've come to realize their potential benefits: they might help the students to perform better on the bar and they also help a little to deflect student charges of being overly subjective in my grading.

Posted by: John Kang | Sep 16, 2005 7:28:00 PM

What is this TWEN of which you all speak?

Posted by: David Zaring | Sep 17, 2005 1:49:42 AM

-Fathally Jabeur,University of Ottawa- Faculty of Law
-Comparative law (since 2001)-Cross course(LL.L-LL.M& LL.D Students)(40 students)
-International Terrorism (2005)-Cross course undergraduates & graduates students( 40 students)
-Socratic method with french classical teaching
-Power point very very rarely only to show some statistics or maps( I'm anti-power point!!)
-For the exam i give 3 analytic questions Plus 5 point no wrong answer e.g Last year i gave this question: do comparative law exist?

Posted by: FATHALLY JABEUR | Sep 17, 2005 1:15:50 PM

1. Scott Moss, Marquette

2. Employment Discrimination (20-80); 1L Con Law (40-60); Law & Economics (40-50); Class Actions Seminar (10-15)

3. In my 2nd year now.

4. Mostly modified secratic, with lots of discussion; a bit more lecture in law & economics than in the others.

5. I use TWEN for sign-up sheets for stuents' due dates for "response papers" (which I do in classes with 60 or fewer); I use TWEN or the Marquette course website to let students download readings other than in the course book(s); for the class actions seminar, I made my own materials, which I distribute only on a CD at the start of the semester (which I think the students like because it's free).

6. I offer an optional practice midtern for my 1L class (which, last year, about 20% chose to do). For my class actions seminar, the final paper is the "law" section of a class certification brief, which lets me cover both theortical knowledge and practical skills. I also have had great experiences assigning one or two 2-4 page "response papers," which students really do well -- and it helpd me know that whichever students have written papers for a particular class are good ones to call on that day....

Posted by: Scott Moss | Sep 17, 2005 6:38:19 PM

1. Michael Dimino, Widener University School of Law
2. Constitutional Law (45), Criminal Procedure (45), Election Law (20), Supreme Court Politics Seminar (8)
3. Currently in second year
4. The seminar is wide-open discussion. The others are mostly socratic (absolutely no passes) punctuated by mini-lectures to ensure that the students get the black-letter. I give advance notice on the syllabus of some of the topics that will be part of the class session's dialogue and make extensive use of problems particularly in criminal procedure.
5. I post items on a TWEN site, but tend not to make the site central to the operation of the course.
6. I assign my students to write a majority opinion and a dissent on an issue recently decided by a lower court, requiring them to take note of the philosophies of the Justices and to be able to argue in writing at least two sides of a current controversy.

Posted by: Mike Dimino | Sep 18, 2005 12:39:31 AM

1) Howard Wasserman, Florida International University College of Law

2) Civil Procedure (60-70); Evidence (50-60); Civil Rights/s.1983 (20); First Amendment (30-40)

3) This is my third year in a tenure-track job; I taught for two years in a visiting slot.

4) For everything other than Evidence, modified Socratic. I use lecture as the starting point, with questions and problems thrown out during discussions and student questions encouraged as a way to further the conversation. I try to avoid calling on students to recite facts or holdings. No cold-calling; class participation is a % of grade, so strong incentive to volunteer. In Evidence, exclusively problem method; we go around the room answering evidentiary questions based on a set of case materials.

5) Thinking about TWEN sites, because a senior colleague here described failure to do so as "educational malpractice." I will begin using CALI materials to cover some areas in Civ Pro (mostly on Discovery) in order to save class time.

6) 24-hour take-home essay examination in Civ Pro. Closed-book multiple choice (and multiple choice w/ explanation) in Evidence. In Civil Rights, I am experimenting with oral arguments; each student will argue one case and sit on a panel in one case in an appeal of actual lower-court decisions.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Sep 18, 2005 8:03:36 PM

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