TECHNOLOGY AND ASSESSMENT IN THE LEGAL CLASSROOM: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY
Texas Southern University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Education has been challenged by technology over the last 20 years. This has begun having an impact even on legal education. There was a time when the Socratic method was the primary instructional modality in law school and its preeminence was unchallenged. The idea was that the law school's educational program was a rigorous entity unto itself. Each course had one summative final exam.
In the mid 1980s the thinking about “intelligence” began to take a dramatic shift. The shift came in part due to advances in technology, including artificial intelligence. As understanding of the complexity of human intelligences became the focus of educational psychologists, its impact was felt on the science/art of education. Ensuring that teaching methods used in the classroom would reach all learners became the primary role of the teacher, as opposed to being the primary “keeper” of the knowledge to be conveyed to the student, which was the traditional primary role in the formal educational classroom. And then came the computers. What quickly became apparent was that there was a role, even a need, for various types of intelligences in the traditional classroom and in fields where alternate types of intelligence had never been viewed as contributors to success in those fields. One spectacular example came in the surprising field of surgery where surgeons began training with video games which turned out to enable them to use surgical micro robotics to perform procedures that had been impossible previously.
As psychologists became more interested in studying the various intelligences exhibited by humans, they introduced the idea of measuring students’ acquisition of skills or the outcomes of learning endeavors. The idea behind assessing students’ learning is making education more efficient. Educational outcomes are the product of student aptitudes, effort and the educational program. Maximizing student outcomes or making the educational process efficient became a real focus of educators, but not of legal educators. If students are making progress at a rate that will allow them to achieve the outcomes of the program on schedule, all is well; if they are not, adjustments in one or more of the three factors is necessary. Of course, affecting students’ aptitudes is not always feasible, but targeting instructional efforts utilizing their learning modality strengths is.
New technology provides the teacher an assessment of the students’ learning. It isn’t enough to know whether or not the majority of students (defined as 70% or more) have grasped the concept, the teacher must then make decisions about what to do with the data. In my class, if fewer than 70% of the students have not mastered the concept, we continue instructional interventions and messure their success until 70% or more of the students have displayed mastery. We are attempting to assess whether or not this approach contributes to student outcomes, by comparing the performance of the students in my section who have been subjected to the rigors of measuring their response to instructional interventions to those of other students who have not had such formative assessments.
Keywords: Legaleducation, Technology Use In Legal Education, Assessment, Student Outcomes.