Support for Empirical Research on Teaching/Assessment

The Need for Scholarship About Law Teaching and Learning

When we teach or assess differently, we often wonder: does this actually make a difference?  Does it improve student learning?  If so, does it improve all students’ learning, or does it only help a particular segment of students?  What do students think about this different methodology?  Does it motivate them to work harder and learn more deeply?    If my school has a “performance gap” between students of color and white students, or between men and women, do these different methods lessen or eliminate that gap?  All those questions, and more, can be explored empirically.  

SALT Website Identifies Resources For Scholarship, Especially Empirical Scholarship, on Teaching and Assessment Issues

One significant problem  is that few of us have had any social science training and thus we do not feel equipped to engage in an empirical scholarly exploration of the impact of our teaching or assessment.   Yet hard data is a very persuasive tool as we try to effectuate change.  For these reasons, The Society of American Law Teachers [SALT] has developed two resources for faculty members who want to engage in empirical research involving the “scholarship of teaching and learning.” 

 On the SALT website, go to “SALT at Work” and click on “Issues in Legal Education”.  There you will see a link to a list of academics who have agreed to be social science collaborators.  These academic collaborators will help you design, implement and interpret an empirical study involving law teaching and assessment issues. 

Also at the same website, you will find a  link to an “assessment working group” list serv.  That list serve  is comprised of legal academics who want to support each other in doing teaching and assessment research, especially empirical research.  It’s a great group of people who will help you work through issues in planning, developing or writing articles about your teaching and assessment methods, and is especially a good resource for those delving into empirical research.  

In sum, resources exist to help you as you begin to explore the scholarship opportunities that arise simply from your every day teaching and assessment work.

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