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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Learning Outcomes as the New Strategic Planning

As any law school seeking to comply with the standards of the American Bar Association's Council on Legal Education knows Standards 30, 302, 314, and 315 have been revised to require law schools to adopt learning outcomes and then to evaluate their curriculum for compliance.  Whether or not this process will actually improve legal education is not a topic on today's table.  But it is a process with a vocabulary and best practices and an increasingly number of law school specific sources of information.    By now, most people know about a still exceptionally helpful book, Student Learning Outcomes and Law School Assessment by Professors Lori E. Shaw and Victoria L. VanZandt.  The purpose of this post is to suggest that regular Google searches are likely to turn up more  law school specific sources of information.

Likely to be a "go to" for many schools is the new Law School Assessment Blog  by Vice Dean Larry Cunningham at St. Johns University School of Law.   Not only does the blog contain information to translate what can sometimes be impenetrable educational jargon into plain English, it also provides some very easy to adapt models for evaluating a curriculum in terms of it's compliance with the learning outcomes a law school has set for itself.

The next phase of this process will be to develop strategic plans based on these assessments.    As this article by Hanover consulting explains, the  process is somewhat different than traditional law school strategic plans that consistent of aspirational statements across the spectrum of law school activities with very little specific focus on outcomes assessment in the curriculum.  These plans are still relevant and important, but they are not what's needed to comply with the new ABA standards.

 The current project is to develop plans more narrowly focused on curriculum and the results of the assessments that each individual law school are now conducting.    Time will tell the extent to which either learning outcomes or these plans will improve the  the law school experience for students, but regardless of outcome, we will all be creating these plans and it is certainly helpful to have emerging sources of information.





Posted by Jennifer Bard on September 22, 2016 at 02:53 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink