Is Our Students Learning?: Using Assessments to Measure and Improve Law School Learning
Using Assessments to Improve Student Performance
Rogelio A. Lasso
The primary role of a law school is to make sure students learn skills to become competent lawyers. Learning is a loop in which the teacher facilitates learning, students perform tasks to show what they have learned, the teacher assesses and provides feedback on students’ performance, and students use the feedback to improve their learning skills for the next learning task. Teacher assessment feedback is critical to student learning. Prompt and frequent feedback allows students to take control of their learning by (a) obtaining necessary remediation for identified deficiencies in the development of their learning skills and (b) adjusting their approaches to performing the next learning tasks. Assessments, therefore, have a greater influence on how and what students learn than any other factor.
As the recent Carnegie Report noted, there is currently no coordinated effort in American legal education to determine the best use of assessments to improve law student learning. Without a suitable program to provide students timely feedback on their performance, the learning loop is broken. The Carnegie Report urges law schools to incorporate a coordinated approach to assessments as a way to develop competent lawyers.
In addition to encouraging law teachers and law schools to use assessments to improve student learning, this article provides a set of best practices for using assessments and furnishes examples of various forms of assessments.