FROM SURVIVING TO THRIVING
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2. What they should be able to do with what they know;
3. How the educators will know whether the students have obtained the
knowledge and are able to effectively use it; and
4. Whether students have the academic skills needed to accomplish the
desired learning outcomes.
What they should know refers to the content students learn. For example,
in many law schools, the first year curriculum includes contracts, tort, prop-
erty, criminal law, and constitutional law — common law courses that form
the basis of American jurisprudence. What students should do with what
they know refers to students’ use of the information. For example, in the
context of a contracts course, is it enough for a student to merely recite the
core elements of contract formation or must the student be able to predict
whether the information in a story satisfies the core elements? Should the
student be able to discuss whether the set of core elements is complete?
Understanding whether the student has obtained the knowledge and can
effectively use it arises from formative and summative assessments of stu-
dents’ learning. Through effective formative assessments, professors and
students can determine whether they have the requisite academic skills
needed to accomplish the learning outcomes.
1. Determining What Should Students Know After the First Year
Several voices should contribute to what students should know after their
first year of law school: professors, practitioners and judges, and bar ex-
aminers. First, as scholars and teachers of the law, professors should ex-
ercise their professional expertise and judgment in determining what stu-
dents should know upon conclusion of their first year. In addition, because
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