The Impact of Expectations on Teaching and Learning

B. Glesner Fines, The Impact of Expectation on Teaching and Learning, 38 Gonz. L. Rev. 89 (2003).

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When I entered teaching nearly twenty years ago, I swore that if I ever heard myself speaking about my students in the cynical and disparaging manner in which I heard some of my senior colleagues speak, I would find a different line of work. I recalled that oath a few years ago when I heard myself complaining about my students far too regularly and in terms far too global. Rather than quit teaching, however, I decided to try to recover some of my earlier idealism and enthusiasm.

I do not think I am alone in needing to attend to this task. Law schools appear to be in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the abilities and motivations of their students. Conference topics on law school teaching feature packed houses for presentations such as “The Challenges of Connecting with 21st Century Students.” Journal articles on legal education lament “The Happy Charade” that constitutes the learning and motivation of law students today. Professor Maranville, current chair of the Association of American Law Schools (“AALS”) Section on Teaching Methods, best summarized these sentiments when she wrote:

Many law students are so bored by the second year that their attendance, preparation, and participation decline precipitously; by graduation they have lost much of the passion for justice and the enthusiasm for helping other people that were their strongest initial motivations for wanting to become lawyers. And even in the first year, when most students remain engaged, many fail to learn even the black-letter law at a level that faculty consider satisfactory…Read More

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