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Evaluation is important to:
Programs using the credit-bearing model have several opportunities to evaluate law students.
Evaluation examples from other law schools
One of the challenges of non-credit-bearing models is the evaluation of law student performance. Here are some suggestions to help provide useful feedback on assessing law student’s performance when you have a limited budget and minimal staff time.
There is no substitute for on-site class visits to see law students teach. However, reviewing lesson plans can provide a window into what happens in the classroom. Evaluating lesson plans is one way to help ensure the quality of your Street Law program.
Criteria for evaluating lesson plans should include:
Check for continuity from goals through objectives and methods. Make sure that the stated goals are related to the objectives and served by the methods.
The objectives need to state specific, measurable outcomes. This is almost always a failing of plans written early in the term. Additionally, a key evaluation point to address is whether the chosen topic meets established selection criteria.
The methods should be assessed focusing on the level of student participation. Many first time teachers list a series of "points" to be made in class without addressing any of the methodology. The methods should be the most detailed part of the lesson plan. Questions presented to the students should indicate the answers to be sought.
Also review lesson plans to ensure that the same methods do not get used time and time again.
Evaluation of lesson plans should also take into consideration whether the materials are appropriate for the given audience; e.g., are the handouts appropriate for the given reading level; are the materials presented in a sensitive manner; are all sides of a controversial issue raised, etc.
Margaret Fisher, Professor at Seattle University Law School, uses an activity for her seminar that focuses on instructing about and evaluating lesson plans. During a seminar, student instructors are required to evaluate other student instructors' lesson plans. The professor pairs up student instructors on the basis of who can learn the most from the approach of another. For instance, the student instructor who uses few participatory methods is paired with one using creative and participatory methods. Student instructors are free to use any information (handbook, assigned readings, etc.) to complete the exercise. The sample form below guides the student instructors in such an evaluation.
EVALUATING LESSON PLANS
Evaluated the Lesson Plan of: _________________________
Directions: You will have fifteen minutes:
I will collect and evaluate this exercise. My purpose is to determine to what extent each of you has learned the requirements of good lesson planning. Please note that your analysis of a fellow law student's lesson plan will have no bearing on that law student's grade.
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