TEACHING THE SMARTPHONE GENERATION: HOW COGNITIVE SCIENCE CAN HELP MAXIMIZE LEARNING IN THE LAW SCHOOL CLASSROOM
Shailini J. George [email protected]
Rosa Kim [email protected]
Suffolk University Law School LWI Biennial Conference, July 1st, 2014
Impetus for research and presentation • Changing characteristics of students
• ABA outcome measures/assessment • Carnegie/Best Practices
What is the best way to teach these students?
Who are we teaching? • Millennials • Digital natives • Multitaskers- “gen M” • Google generation • FOMO generation
Starting point: the science of learning • Frontal lobe-brain’s
manager. Used to concentrate and deeply focus. • Parietal lobe-always seeking sensory information from the environment.
How do we learn? • Complex, multi-step process
Challenges to learning: Working memory/short term memory = brain’s scratch pad
Translating information to knowledge • Long term memory = brain’s hard wire storage
Cognitive capacity = how much we can learn 2009 brain imaging study of the National Academy of Science • Brain geared to novelty
• Active parietal lobe- decline in focused, specific tasks • When fatigued, the frontal lobe is the first part of the brain
to slow down
Neuroplasticity: Old dogs can learn new tricks • Brain’s wiring changes to deal more
efficiently with information • But–new visual spatial skills at the expense of deep processing, inductive analysis, imagination, and reflection
Traditional law school learning
Law school learning for Gen M Cognitive overload + multitasking diminished ability to engage in in-depth analysis
Educate students to promote metacognition
(Bloom’s Taxonomy – Revised)
Identify Learning Goals Using Higher Order Thinking Skills • Ask students to perform tasks consistent with goals • Evaluating
Compose Construct Determine Formulate Organize Prepare Develop Synthesize
• Argue • Defend • Judge • Support • Conclude • Assess • Critique
Use impactful teaching methods
Strategies for reducing cognitive load • Relate new information to data already stored in long
term memory • Use “dual channels” (visual and auditory)
• Words and graphics rather than words alone
• Minimize “eye and ear candy”
• Avoid reading text on slides
Hierarchy of Legal Authority • Primary authority = the law • statutes, constitutions, cases, regulations • Secondary authority = commentary on the law • Law reviews, restatements, treatises,
hornbooks • Binding authority = primary law from same jurisdiction • Persuasive authority = secondary authority or primary law from different jurisdiction
Hierarchy of Legal Authority Primary Authority
Examples of “Saying and Doing” in the Legal Writing Classroom • Simulated exercises/role play • Partner briefing • Status conference • Client interview • Group/partner exercises • Small group discussion • Peer review with oral feedback • Pair and share • Class presentations • Expert/Teacher of the Day • Debate-style timed arguments • Group presentations of cases
Reflective teaching and learning • “Merely doing something is not enough…reflecting on the
doing and testing out the reflection must follow for learning to be effective.” (Sosteng) • Examples of reflective assignments • Logs • Journals • Self-critiques • Mid-term evaluations • Short writing assignments • Muddiest point/one-minute paper
Summary of Teaching Choices that Respect the Cognitive Process • Educate students about metacognition
• Establish learning goals using higher order thinking skills • Use impactful teaching methods • Include reflection assignments
• Encourage students to practice mindfulness
Selected Bibliography •
Shailini George, Teaching the Smartphone Generation: How Cognitive Science Can Improve Learning in Law School, Me. • L. Rev. Vol. 66, No. 1, (Winter 2013). Rosa Kim, Lightening the Cognitive Load: Maximizing Learning in the Legal Writing Classroom, Perspectives Vol. 21 • No. 2 (Spring 2013).
Sam Anderson, In Defense of Distraction: Twitter, Alderall, Lifehacking, Mindful Jogging, Obama’s BlackBerry, and the Benefits of Overstimulation, New York Magazine (May, 2009).
Margaret Butler, Resource-based Learning and Course Design: A Brief Theoretical Overview and Practical Suggestions, 104 Law Libr. J. 219 (Spring, 2012).
Joan Catherine Bohl, Generations X and Y in Law School: Practical Strategies for Teaching the “MTV/Google” Generation, 54 Loy. L. Rev. 775 (Winter 2008).
Nicholas Carr, The Shallows, (W.W. Norton & Co., 2011).
Anne Enquist, Multitasking and Legal Writing, Perspectives: Teaching Legal Research and Writing, Vol. 18 No. 1 (Fall 2009).
Mark Fenske, The Winner’s Brain (De Capo Press, 2010).
M. H. Sam Jacobson, Paying Attention or Fatally Distracted? Concentration, Memory, and Multi-Tasking in a Multi-Media World, 16 Legal Writing: J. Legal Writing Inst. 419 (2010).
Amishi Jha, et al., Mindfulness Training Modifies Subsystems of Attention, 7 COGNITIVE, AFFECTIVE, & BEHAVIORAL NEUROSCIENCE 109 (2007). Rhonda V. Magee, Educating Lawyers to Meditate? 79 U. MO.–KAN. CITY L. REV. 535, 540 (2011).
Richard E. Mayer, Cognitive Theory and the Design of Multimedia Instruction: An Example of the Two-Way Street Between Cognition and Instruction, New Directions for Teaching and Learning, n 89, (Spring 2002).
Richard E. Mayer, Cognition and Instruction: Their Historic Meeting Within Educational Psychology, Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 84, No. 4, 405-12 (1992).
Deborah J. Merritt, Legal Education in the Age of Cognitive Science and Advanced Classroom Technology, 14 B.U. J. Sci. & Tech. L. 39 (Winter 2008).
John Sosteng, et al. , A Legal Education Renaissance: a Practical Approach for the Twenty-First Century, Legal Studies Research Paper Series, Apr. 2, 2008, available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=1084098.
Claudia Wallis, genM: The Multitasking Generation, TIME, Mar. 27, 2006, available at http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1174696,00.html.