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Learning Law. Orientation: August 16, 2006. 5. Professional expertise. 4. Prescriptive vs. Exploratory. 3. Limited context vs. Unlimited context. 2. Hearing vs. Understanding. 1. Recognition vs. Recall. Metacognition: James Flavell. The process of ‘thinking about thinking’

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Learning law

Learning Law


August 16, 2006

5. Professional expertise

4. Prescriptive vs. Exploratory

3. Limited context vs.

Unlimited context

2. Hearing vs. Understanding

1. Recognition vs. Recall

Metacognition james flavell
Metacognition: James Flavell

  • The process of ‘thinking about thinking’

  • Metacognitive knowledge

    • Person variables

      • Awareness of one’s own ways of thinking

      • Understanding that others may think differently

    • Task variables

      • Self-questioning about ways information influences and constrains your own responses

    • Strategy variables

      • Approaches for meeting goals

        • Cognitive – direct purpose for accomplishing an outcome

        • Metacognitive – a strategy to determine which cognitive strategy is most appropriate for meeting a goal

Cognitive theory piaget
Cognitive Theory: Piaget

  • Functions

    (Same for everyone)

    • Adaptation

      • Assimilation

      • Accommodation

    • Organization


[Knowledge cluster]

Assimilation requires attention

College of Law:

Assimilation Requires Attention

  • General estimates from research on attention indicate that people remember from 1/3-1/5 of lecture material.

  • To increase attention:

    • Make it personal.

    • Attend to main points.

    • Look for analogies.

    • Relate concepts to practical uses.

    • Review and tie to previous material.

    • Write down examples.

Remembering & Forgetting:

Causes of Forgetting:


•Other thoughts



Lack of focus

•Did not input

•Not meaningful


•No organization

•No link to future context (chk file)

Ways of Remembering:

Decrease interference


Stay connected

Set times: study & play

Increase focus

Take notes & review

Create meaning link


Organize by use

Talk about concepts and apply to people or creative stories.

Repetition increases learning assimilation
Repetition Increases Learning (Assimilation)

  • It takes about 7-10 repetitions to learn new material

    • Short frequent repetitions input information

    • Applying in active ways increases ability to remember

  • The more senses involved in learning, the stronger the memory.

    • Explaining or saying to someone else is a form of output that increases memory and understanding

  • We have a special ability to remember stories – cases, hypotheticals, particularly hypotheticals with unusual facts stick in memory.

Attention adaptation perceived importance
Attention & Adaptation: Perceived Importance*

*Concept developed by William Purkey

Attention adaptation perceived importance1
Attention & Adaptation: Perceived Importance

Attention adaptation perceived importance2
Attention & Adaptation: Perceived Importance

Attention adaptation perceived importance3
Attention & Adaptation: Perceived Importance

Accommodation metacognitive tasks strategies
Accommodation: Metacognitive Tasks & Strategies

  • Accommodation requires distinguishing concepts

  • Look for the relationship of cases to each other.

  • Make visual representations of the relationships of concepts or cases to each other to help identify differences.

  • Use examples or analogies to highlight and test differences.

Study steps assimilation accommodation
Study Steps:Assimilation & Accommodation

7-10 repetitions = long term memory

  • Review last class before reading for next class --[Let your professor guide your learning.]

  • Read for class

  • Review last notes before next class

  • Go to Class

  • Review notes after class

  • Review week’s notes at the end of week

  • Use a study group for clarification & applications

  • Write a homework problem each week

Study goals content
Study Goals: Content

  • Develop expertise in legal content through learning:

    • To read like a lawyer

      • Looking for general and specific rules

      • Discerning critical facts that shift analysis

      • Understanding reasoning of court

      • Examining how sets of cases are like and different in reasoning and outcomes

    • The language of law

      • Purposeful

      • Specific

Study goals process
Study Goals: Process

  • Developing legal analysis skills

  • Focus on questions your professors ask

  • Practice analysis by asking these or similar questions of yourself as you prepare for classes

  • Be active in your learning:

    • Talk about what you are studying

      • With each other

      • With friends and relatives

    • Apply what you are learning to news stories and events in your life

    • Make up stories that illustrate legal rules – change facts to test limits of rules.

V a r y study activities
Vary Study Activities

  • Read actively

    • Ask questions while reading

      • What does this add to the concept?

        • Compare: What is this like?

        • Contrast: How is this different?

      • Are professor’s questions asked in last class also applicable to new material?

    • Diagram or chart to aid understanding

    • Try color coding

    • Write a short summary of content in addition to case briefs - good use of time?

Organizing one important learning skill
Organizing: One Important Learning Skill

  • Ordering notes

  • Organizing at the end of each week

  • Organizing at the end of each chapter or unit

  • Organizing before exams

  • Organizing in exams

Reasons to organize
Reasons to Organize

  • To learn course content

    • Organizing forces a focus on content that increases recall of material

    • Grouping cases helps

      • Deepen understanding of concepts

      • Build associational connections to increase memory

  • To highlight analysis process

    • Drawing attention to legal rules

    • Providing context for legal arguments for analysis and application to new fact patterns

  • To prepare for exams

    • Emphasizing thoroughness of analysis in exams

    • Increasing speed when writing exams

Choosing a format
Choosing a Format

  • Start with what has worked for you in past courses.

  • Experiment with other methods to see if they facilitate analysis and application.

  • ‘To Outline’ is code for ‘To Organize’

    • Outlines are one way to organize, but not useful for everyone.

    • Flow charts emphasize analysis

    • Decision trees use questions to aid analysis

    • Diagrams can reveal relationships among and within concepts

    • Summary and synthesis statements put the big picture into words

  • Use a structure that simplifies understanding, emphasizes analysis, and aids memory and application.

Preliminary questions
Preliminary Questions

  • Is it more efficient to use an outline created by someone who knows more than I?

    • NO! Making it is a huge part of the value

    • Do use table of contents, syllabus, or similar materials to provide an initial framework or to stimulate ideas

  • What about sharing outlines?


Recommended Strategies:

  • Go to all classes

  • Make some kind of notes or other record

    in or about classes

  • Review notes frequently

  • Read supplemental materials only as


  • Use flash cards for memory tasks

  • Study alone, but apply through planning and

    writing problems with a study partner or group

  • Designate time frame

Group programs individual appointments
Group Programs & Individual Appointments

  • We will have group programs on study and exam writing skills regularly throughout the term.

  • Individual appointments are available for all students.

  • How to find me:

    • My office #216,

    • Phone: 278-9240,

    • E-mail: mpeters3@elon.edu

  • Stop by when door is open or contact me for a time for an appointment.