Monday, August 18, 2014

Researching Across The Curriculum

InsideHigherEd ran a piece this spring that discussed the need for faculty to teach writing across the curriculum (WAC). "Most agree that Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC), in which the task of teaching writing is one assigned to all professors, not just those who teach English or composition, is an important academic concept. If we had a WAC playbook, it would sound something like this: students need to write clear, organized, persuasive prose, not only in the liberal arts, but in the sciences and professional disciplines as well."

The same ideal rings true for researching across the curriculum in law school. Law schools generally require one or two research & writing courses before graduation. Some students will actively seek electives that provide additional training with a research & writing component, but many students shy away from these courses.

Like writing, students need as much practice with research as possible before graduation to really understand the concepts and develop a research strategy. After all, nearly 30% of a new attorney's time is spent doing legal research.

It's important for law faculty to understand how integral legal research is to the success of graduates and faculty should "buy in" to legal research instruction across the curriculum.

For example, many law schools are starting to assess students throughout the term instead of relying on one comprehensive final exam at the end of the term. These assessments, which take place in each law school class, can easily require a legal research component to offer more research practice for the students. The students will continue to hone their legal research skills by contextualizing and evaluating information based on the class's subject area.

Law faculty - see your nearest law librarian for more information!

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