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TEACHING THE SMARTPHONE GENERATION: HOW COGNITIVE SCIENCE CAN HELP MAXIMIZE LEARNING IN THE LAW SCHOOL CLASSROOM Shailini J. George

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Presentation on theme: "TEACHING THE SMARTPHONE GENERATION: HOW COGNITIVE SCIENCE CAN HELP MAXIMIZE LEARNING IN THE LAW SCHOOL CLASSROOM Shailini J. George"— Presentation transcript:

1 TEACHING THE SMARTPHONE GENERATION: HOW COGNITIVE SCIENCE CAN HELP MAXIMIZE LEARNING IN THE LAW SCHOOL CLASSROOM Shailini J. George Rosa Kim Suffolk University Law School LWI Biennial Conference, July 1 st, 2014

2 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?

3 Who are we teaching? Millennials Digital natives Multitaskers- “gen M” Google generation FOMO generation

4 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.

5 How do we learn? Complex, multi-step process

6 Challenges to learning: Working memory/short term memory = brain’s scratch pad

7 Translating information to knowledge Long term memory = brain’s hard wire storage

8 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

9 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

10 Traditional law school learning

11 Law school learning for Gen M Cognitive overload + multitasking  diminished ability to engage in in-depth analysis

12 Educate students to promote metacognition (Bloom’s Taxonomy – Revised)

13 Identify Learning Goals Using Higher Order Thinking Skills Ask students to perform tasks consistent with goals EvaluatingCreating AppraiseCompose ArgueConstruct DefendDetermine JudgeFormulate SupportOrganize ConcludePrepare AssessDevelop CritiqueSynthesize

14 Use impactful teaching methods

15 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

16 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

17 Hierarchy of Legal Authority Primary Authority Secondary Authority Persuasive Authority Binding Authority Same Jurisdiction All Different Jurisdiction

18 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

19 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

20 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

21 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 C OGNITIVE, A FFECTIVE, & B EHAVIORAL N EUROSCIENCE 109 (2007). Rhonda V. Magee, Educating Lawyers to Meditate? 79 U. M O.–K AN. C ITY L. R EV. 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, (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 Claudia Wallis, genM: The Multitasking Generation, TIME, Mar. 27, 2006, available at


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