Learning Curve

The Learning Curve

A Publication of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Section of Academic Support

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Giving Good Advice to Law Students: A Holistic Approach

Heather Varanini

Director of Academic Achievement and Adjunct Professor
Golden State University School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Summer/Fall 2021

It is that time of year again when another semester has ended, and grades have been posted. With it comes a plethora of feelings along the spectrum, from elation to relief to devastation, for our students. When grades are released each semester, I read advice professors share with students, and I hear about the various …

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An Open Letter to New ASP Colleagues

Sarira A. Sadeghi

The Sam & Ash Director of Academic Achievement
Chapman University Fowler School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Summer/Fall 2021

Dear Newly Hired ASP Colleagues, Welcome! Starting in academic support and bar prep can be both exciting and daunting. ASP is a special and unique field, especially as it is still growing, developing, and changing within legal education. Here are some macro-level observations that may be helpful to those just starting in ASP or who …

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Defying Middle Child Syndrome: A Proposal for Achieving Bar Success by Reimagining the 2L Experience

Eurilynne A. Williams

Interim Director and Instructor of Academic Success and Bar Preparation
FAMU College of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

Middle child syndrome is the belief that middle children are excluded, ignored, or even outright neglected because of their birth order.1 Traditional American law schools, just like many families, are comprised of several “children,” or more accurately stated, groupings of children consisting of 1L, 2L, and 3L students. The unspoken (or at least not very often …

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Leading Up: Academic Support and Power Dynamics

Elizabeth Z. Stillman

Associate Professor of Academic Support
Suffolk University Law School

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

As Academic Support folks1 take on new roles in law school academia, there is still the issue of status in the hierarchy that makes us distinct. We are not tenured or usually even eligible to seek tenure. And yet, Academic Support folks tend to teach as much, if not more, than faculty members who have …

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Crisis Inspires Innovation

Haley A. Meade

Interim Senior Director of Academic Skills and Director of the Skills Center
City University of New York School of Law

Yolonda Sewell

Interim Executive Director of Bar Support and Licensing Programs
City University of New York School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

Quarantined and thrusted into remote teaching, the pandemic and the nationwide racial unrest spurred an empathy for students’ humanity, which propelled law professors to rethink the way they teach. This forced reimagining culminated in ideas and techniques that mostly centered around fostering inclusion and community. But the need for inclusion in law school is not …

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More Than Belonging: Tying Diverse Identities to Law School Success

Laura Riley

Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills
University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Nickey Woods

Assistant Dean Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
University of Southern California Gould School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

It is no secret that certain racial, socioeconomic, and other groups were historically excluded from elite spaces, including law schools, and still continue to be underrepresented in them. Now that law schools are trying to change the makeup of their student populations, it is important to not just take steps to include students of color, …

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Drawing Upon Choice Architecture to Improve Students’ Study Practices

Jeff Minetti

Director of the Academic Resource Center and Associate Professor of Law
Seattle University School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

The importance of engaging in interleaved, formative assessments to understand and retain new material is well established.1 Academic support and bar preparation professionals know it (and preach it), doctrinal faculty know it, and students know it. When talking with students who are academically struggling, I regularly ask about the extent to which students are engaging …

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Success After Failure: Strategies for Working With Repeat Bar Takers

Katherine Silver Kelly

Clinical Professor of Law & Director of Academic Support
The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

Introduction Growth mindset tells us that we learn from mistakes and that failure does not define us. While this is true, it is also true that failure is painful and challenging to overcome. Failing the bar exam often feels devastating and like the end of the world. In a way, it is because of the …

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Supporting Our First-Generation Students

Melissa A. Hale

Director of Academic Success and Bar Programs
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

We need more first-generation law students because we need more first-generation lawyers. Historically, the legal profession has been reserved for the very wealthy, and let’s be honest, the very white, and the very male. While progress has been made, we are still nowhere near where we should be. When speaking about diversity and inclusion in …

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Orienting the Family: A One-Day Program for the Families of First-Generation Students

Jessica Rouser

Director of Scholarship and Financial Aid
University of Detroit Mercy

Sarah Garrison

Director of Bar Preparation
University of Detroit Mercy School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

Entering an institution of professional learning is terrifying. There are too many new experiences to count, and the workload is overwhelming.  For some, the stories and advice from past generations will ease fears or at least temper the unknowns.  For others, in increasing numbers, they have no such person(s) to turn to for guidance and …

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Wednesday Morning Live

Elizabeth Z. Stillman

Associate Professor of Academic Support
Suffolk University Law School

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2021

Citation: Elizabeth Z. Stillman, Wednesday Morning Live, The Learning Curve (Winter/Spring 2021)

“All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players…” Shakespeare, William, As You Like it, Act II, Scene VII, Line 139 (1599). Teaching and learning remotely are difficult even in the best of times. When we do not share a physical space or get to see how we all move in …

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Keeping It Real: The Increasing Importance of Relating Law School Skills to the “Real Life” Practice of Law

Lindsey Spain

Assistant District Attorney SVU/Child
Durham County District Attorney’s Office, State of North Carolin

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2019

Citation: Lindsey Spain, Keeping It Real: The Increasing Importance of Relating Law School Skills to the "Real Life" Practice of Law, The Learning Curve (Winter/Spring 2019)

I’m relatively new to the world of Academic Support. In 2016, I joined the wonderful team at North Carolina Central University School of Law as an Academic Success Specialist where I was able to bring my passion for education and the law to law students. One of the classes I teach is Critical Thinking, a …

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Developing Students’ Awareness of Their Comfort (and Terror) Zones

Beth A. Brennan

Adjunct Professor
Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2020

Citation: Beth A. Brennan, Developing Students’ Awareness of Their Comfort (and Terror) Zones, The Learning Curve (Winter/Spring 2020)

​Learning theory tells us that students learn best when they are challenged. In fact, if students encounter difficulties while learning—something as innocuous as straining to read text in a gray font or as complex as trying to remember a subject they’ve completely forgotten—they are more likely to learn the material. As professors, we want to …

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Combating the Epidemic of “I Did Everything I Was Supposed To Do”: Teaching Adaptive Learning in Academic Support to Promote First Time Bar Exam Success

Brittany L. Raposa

Professor and Associate Director of Bar Support
Roger Williams University School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2020

Citation: Brittany L. Raposa, Combating the Epidemic of “I Did Everything I Was Supposed To Do”: Teaching Adaptive Learning in Academic Support to Promote First Time Bar Exam Success, The Learning Curve (Winter/Spring 2020)

After receiving failing bar exam results, I always hear students say “I don’t understand why I failed, I did everything my bar review course told me to do.” My response is always the same: “You probably did not do what worked best for you.” Commercial bar preparation courses are a one-size-fits-all approach to bar studying, …

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Why We Need a Better Bar Review

Allie Robbins

Associate Professor of Law
CUNY School of Law

Originally Published in The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2020

Citation: Allie Robbins, Why We Need a Better Bar Review, The Learning Curve (Winter/Spring 2020)

I recently had the opportunity to speak with someone who is developing a new commercial bar review company. That conversation prompted me to ask alums via social media what they would change about their bar review courses. I received some great responses including a desire for more visual aids, outlines with time stamps so students …

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The Learning Curve, Summer 2020

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The Learning Curve, Summer/Fall 2021

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The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2019

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The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2020

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The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2021

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The Learning Curve, Winter/Spring 2022

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