A Response to: Is this Tool Making Law School too Easy?

Guest Post by Michelle Hook Dewey and Heather Jane Simmons

Disclosure: Authors of this post are co-authors of the Legal Research and Writing Course on the website referenced in a previous RIPS Law Librarian Blog article. Heather’s husband is a full-time employee of the online success tool. The authors wanted to add their perspective.


. . . the product does look fun, innovative and great.

If the analysis has already been done for the student how does this affect the critical thinking skills they are supposed to be learning in law school?

https://ripslawlibrarian.wordpress.com/2019/11/25/is-this-tool-making-law-school-too-easy/

We very much appreciate this respectful and thoughtful analysis of the tool.

While many law students do see the value paying for their own subscription, some law libraries subscribe on behalf of their students. It’s not that different from a subscription to any well-known study aid, and we would argue that it serves our students better.

There is currently much debate about the best way to teach the law, and especially the lack of feedback and assessment. For example, ABA Standard 314. ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING and any educational psychologist will tell you that from a pedagogical perspective, having one exam at the end of the semester is the worst way to teach anyone anything.

Much of law school involves rote memorization, learning the elements of Adverse Possession for example. We see any tool to help with that as a good thing. Online legal success tool instructional designers employ all the latest scientific research in cognitive theory to make sure that their product is based on sound pedagogical principles.

We disagree with the statement that the website makes law school too easy. If base content is more comprehensible, then students can devote more mental energy to legal analysis, that is applying the concepts to hypothetical situations, the kind of discussions that happen in almost every law school class.

We would argue that having more accessible course content that is easier to digest allows law students to devote more of their brain resources available for critical thinking. Students must no longer spend time figuring out how to learn the factor or element test, rather they can spend time focusing on learning how to analyze, apply, and argue. The need for critical thinking skills is still assessed in exams and law school writing. Students will not be able to succeed without those skills regardless. Tools like online law school success tools allow students to have the space to better hone those skills.

The Contracts course (and all of the this particular online law school success tool’s courses) has quiz at the end of each chapter. This allows students to practice retrieval to see how well they have learned the content. These quizzes are quite challenging.

Should law school be hard? Of course, but let’s focus on analysis and critical thinking rather than hiding the ball.

About malikahhalllibrarian

Malikah Hall is a Reference Librarian and Instructional Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University. She was previously the Diversity Fellow, Research Services Librarian, and Lecturer in Law at Cornell University. Malikah is very active in AALL where she is the current RIPS Law Librarian Blog editor, Immediate Past Chair of PEGA-SIS, a member of the AALL Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and a member of the AALL Legal Research Competencies Review Special Committee. Malikah graduated from North Carolina Central University with a J.D./M.L.S. joint degree. In her spare time, she enjoys playing with her sweet dog and anything true crime related.
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1 Response to A Response to: Is this Tool Making Law School too Easy?

  1. Charlie Amiot says:

    I’m so happy to see this response. The previous post left a very bitter taste in my mouth. I’ve been the individual who used that particular “online success tool”, and found that it made everything easier and more efficient, including reading the cases, which was still something I chose to do. It was like having well-written synopsis of what was contained in the case (much like one would find on the back of a book, but perhaps we should get rid of those too, don’t want selecting a book to be too easy!) and then also getting instant feedback on my initial understanding of certain concepts. Not to mention the textual and A/V materials that accompanied a lot of it, which allows for a variety of learning styles.

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