Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes
Assessment is a dynamic, faculty-driven process that works to improve student learning. By setting measurable goals of learning, we identify what it is that we hope our students will learn by the conclusion of their education with us. We collect and analyze evidence of their learning, through both formative and summative assessment devices. Finally, and most importantly, we “close the loop” by improving our academic program based on what we have learned. Our efforts to improve bar passage, our success-driven and integrated approach to career development, and our Lawyering and Advanced Practice Writing requirements are examples of the assessment process at work.
On this page, we will document our assessment activities, including reports that demonstrate our compliance with the American Bar Association’s standards on learning outcomes and assessment.
Associate Dean for Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness & Professor of Legal Writing
Upon conferral of the Juris Doctor degree, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate understanding of substantive and procedural law.
- Employ legal analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving.
- Engage in factual development and legal research.
- Communicate effectively in both written and oral form.
- Fulfill professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system.
- Use interpersonal skills to participate competently and ethically as a member of the legal profession.
- Engage with legal concepts, policies, and values at a scholarly level.
As adopted by the Law School Faculty Council on February 17, 2016.
LEARNING OUTCOMESUpon conferral of the Juris Doctor degree, students will be able to:
PERFORMANCE INDICATORSStudents demonstrate they have achieved this outcome by:
|1. Demonstrate understanding of substantive and procedural law.|
a. Identifying and applying foundational concepts of civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, torts, and the manner in which the law, both statutory and judge-made, evolves.
b. Identifying and applying concepts of other core areas of law, such as administrative law, business organizations, evidence, tax, and trusts and estates.c. Identifying and applying concepts in areas of law not otherwise required by the Law School curriculum.
|2. Employ legal analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving.|
a. Identifying relevant legal issues raised by clients’ legal problems.
b. Identifying relevant legal rules applicable to each issue, including synthesizing multiple authorities into a cohesive rule.
c. Identifying legally significant facts applicable to each issue.
d. Applying the relevant legal rules to the legally significant facts and, as necessary, analogizing and distinguishing authorities, and responding to counterarguments.e. Drawing appropriate conclusions based on the facts, taking into account the clients’ interests, goals, and objectives.
|3. Engage in factual development and legal research.|
a. Creating and executing a factual development plan, interviewing, and marshalling facts learned from a factual investigation.
b. Developing a legal research strategy that is efficient and takes into account financial constraints of the client.
c. Locating, analyzing, and synthesizing primary sources relevant to the legal issue at hand.d. Locating, analyzing, and synthesizing secondary sources relevant to the legal issue at hand.
|4. Communicate effectively in both written and oral form.|
a. Drafting and editing documents that objectively analyze a legal problem.
b. Drafting and editing documents designed to persuade a reader.
c. Drafting and editing documents that create legal rights and obligations.
d. In all documents, writing in a clear, concise, and effective manner.
e. In all documents, employing rules of grammar, spelling, and citation.f. Making persuasive oral arguments or presentations.
|5. Fulfill professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system.|
a. Identifying the history, goals, structures, values, and responsibilities of the legal profession.
b. Identifying and applying rules of professional conduct for attorneys.c. Understanding the importance of assisting the underserved with their unmet legal needs and, if feasible, providing at least 50 hours of pro bono service during Law School.
|6. Use interpersonal skills to participate competently and ethically as a member of the legal profession.|
a. Being aware of one’s own strengths and weaknesses as they relate to the legal profession.
b. Being aware of cultural differences that may impact representation of one’s clients.
c. Interviewing clients and witnesses.
d. Counseling clients on legal problems.e. Negotiating effectively on behalf of clients.
|7. Engage with legal concepts, policies, and values at a scholarly level.|
a. Identifying an unresolved issue of law or legal policy.
b. Researching, locating, digesting, and engaging with scholarship on the topic.
c. Communicating an argument on the issue.d. Citing and attributing the words and ideas of others in a proper manner.
PDF version of the learning outcomes and performance indicators.
On April 13, 2016, the Law School Faculty Council adopted an assessment plan for 2016-2023. The purposes of the plan are:
- To strengthen this Law School’s program of legal education by gathering data about student learning, analyzing the data to determine whether students are achieving the identified learning outcomes, and adopting changes to respond to identified problem areas.
- To articulate an effective, workable, faculty-driven, and efficient process to assess student learning outcomes at an institutional level over a 7-year period (the ABA’s sabbatical site visit schedule).
- To identify the roles of faculty and relevant administrators in conducting institutional assessment.
- To demonstrate compliance with the ABA’s requirement that, by the 2017-18 academic year, every accredited Law School has a publicly available assessment plan.
- To provide students with a certification that they have the requisite skills and values under “Pathway 1” of 22 N.Y.C.R.R. § 520.18 that the Law School has identified as important to the practice of law.
- To demonstrate compliance with Standard 14 of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
As explained further in the plan document, during each annual cycle, one learning outcome is assessed using a combination of direct and indirect measures. An ad hoc assessment team gathers and analyzes data, and proposes recommendations to the Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Committee, which is responsible for coordinating all of our assessment efforts.
The Faculty Council adopted the following timetable for assessment:
|1. Demonstrate understanding of substantive and procedural law.||Plan||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up||Follow-Up|
|2. Employ legal analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving.||Plan||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up||Follow-Up|
|3. Engage in factual development and legal research.||Plan||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up||Follow-Up|
|4. Communicate effectively in both written and oral form.||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up||Follow-Up|
|5. Fulfill professional and ethical responsibilities to clients and the legal system.||Plan||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up|
|6. Use interpersonal skills to participate competently and ethically as a member of the legal profession.||Plan||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up||Follow-Up|
|7. Engage with legal concepts, policies, and values at a scholarly level.||Plan||Collect & analyze data, propose follow-up||Follow-Up|
In Spring 2016, faculty mapped individual courses to the learning outcomes using a survey distributed by the Dean's Office. As new courses are adopted, this curriculum map will be updated. The curriculum map will be used by the Curriculum Committee and the Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Committee to improve the curriculum and conduct assessment activities, respectively.
- Curriculum Map (Summary) (last updated: September 16, 2016). If a learning outcome is addressed in a particular course, an "X" appears.
- Curriculum Map (With Level of Competency) (last updated: September 16, 2016). Faculty were asked to identify the level of competency for each desired learning outcome.
- “Introduction” means key ideas, concepts, or skills related to the learning outcome are introduced, but it is expected that they will be developed later in a student’s course of study.
- “Competence” means students must demonstrate proficiency in the learning outcome by the end of the course.
- “Advanced” means students have advanced instruction in and/or additional practice with the knowledge, value, or skill, such that they demonstrate the learning outcome with high level of independence and a level of understanding and sophistication expected of graduates, not students. It is doubtful that a student will achieve this level of mastery of a subject or skill in a first year course.
Note that for courses with multiple sections, data was averaged. Individual coverage and course goals will vary from professor-to-professor.