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Session Summary: How to Assure Effective Formative and Summative Assessment

Submitted by Brian Owsley

Olympia Duhart presented on effective ways to use tutorials in large classes.  Three ideas for effective feedback and assessment.  For practice exams based on what is expected in the final.  The students were assigned oral arguments on cases read for class.  The students could receive feedback immediately with other students as judges.  A tutorial with sample questions that a small set before requiring the others to post their responses.

Howard Katz discussed his “Unified Field Theory” method for teaching legal analysis in first-year doctrinal courses.  This method can be used periodically or extensively.  It emphasizes rules and the It connects classroom to exam by modeling what an exam answer looks like or how to develop an outline.  When calling on students, he has student explain the rule first.  Then he asks if the facts meet the rule or elements.  It embeds formative feedback based on the second case.  It forces memorization and repetition that gets to learning.

Jennifer Kinsley presented on how daily formative assessments can be utilized to improve recall and analysis.  In order to improve bar exam results, she realized that formative assessments had to be used more at her law school.  She sat in the room when students were taking exams in her class and others.  She noticed numerous students just looking around as opposed to frantically writing responses.  Despite poor answers, the students could explain the concepts verbally quite well.  She quizzes her students daily.  Sometimes, they are MCQs.  She focuses on sentence blurbs to list issues.  The students self-score and then report back.  Anyone can implement these methods.

Ben Madison addressed program assessment regarding student learning outcomes pursuant to ABA Standard 314.  First, meaningful feedback is both student and teacher driven, resulting in learning improvements for students and teaching improvements for professors. Second, professors should use assessments that are enjoyable to students as that enhances learning and retention .  Third, interactive devices like polling can enhance memory.

Susan Stephan presented on using technology and other techniques for effective feedback in support of learning outcomes in online, hybrid, and blended classroom environments.   Students often enjoy low stakes quizzes.  The students can receive feedback and additional guidance on the concepts.  There are also various free polling tools that are available for usage.

Vicki VanZandt addressed methods of how to conduct draft conferences on Zoom.  Her law school had implemented mid-terms to impact the performance on bar exam.  She conducted conferences on Zoom.  The student must submit the calendar invitation with the draft assignment.  She does a live edit of the assignment and then provides them a copy.  She has a recording of the meeting along with the edited version.  The benefits of this are time management.  There is also a psychological safety because the student just sees the assignment being addressed.

Spencer Waller discussed assessments in which two or more students collaborate on an assignment.   Two goals: promote active learning and get students to collaborate.  In class, he has students work together on a low-stakes short essay question.  In Civil Procedure, he uses an assignment in which students are an attorney and an out of state client who are suing an in-state defendant.  In Antitrust, he creates teams to handle exercises addressing a merger within an industry.