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Unpublished Paper
Alternative Justifications for Law School Academic Support Programs: Self-Determination Theory, Autonomy Support, and Humanizing the Law School.
ExpressO (2010)
  • Louis N. Schulze, Jr., New England School of Law
Abstract
This Article examines alternative justifications for law school academic support programs (hereinafter “ASPs”). By “alternative,” I mean justifications not having anything to do with bar passage rates or even demonstrable increases in academic performance, per se. My thesis is two-fold. First, I argue that ASPs help humanize the law school environment. By providing a source of encouragement and assistance in an environment too often devoid of significant positive support, ASPs can leave students feeling that their law school actually cares whether they succeed. For those in academia who believe that providing a more humane law school environment is an admirable and worthwhile goal, this Article will serve to prove that ASPs do contribute to providing that environment. Second, I contend that ASPs help a law school satisfy conditions of “self-determination theory” and, relatedly, provide “autonomy support.” Self-determination theory, roughly, is a meta-theory of educational motivation that contends that optimal learning occurs when students perceive competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Autonomy support, in turn, asserts that educators must provide choice, rationale-provision, and perspective-taking in order to support students' learning. As such, if an ASP provides self-determination and autonomy support, it will indirectly provide an increased likelihood of real learning and thus professional success. This Article analyzes exactly how the methods of ASP fulfill the goals of the humanizing movement, provide self-determination, and lead to an increase in perceived autonomy support in students. The piece concludes that more schools should adopt or expand ASPs, and it introduces an empirical study (which I shall publish in a subsequent piece) testing the dual theses of this Article.
Keywords
  • Legal Edcucation,
  • Academic Support,
  • Law School Pedagogy
Disciplines
Publication Date
August 23, 2010
Citation Information
Louis N. Schulze. "Alternative Justifications for Law School Academic Support Programs: Self-Determination Theory, Autonomy Support, and Humanizing the Law School." ExpressO (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/louis_schulze/2/