OPERATIONALIZING AND ASSESSING REFLECTIVE EXERCISES IN LEGAL EDUCATION: TOWARDS A PEDAGOGY OF REFLECTIVE PRACTICE
This thesis examines the understudied topic of operationalizing and assessing reflective practice in undergraduate legal education and the promise that this type of teaching and learning framework has to improve the legal profession and justice system in a myriad of ways. The purpose of the inquiry is to advance research on the topic and to take steps toward establishing a pedagogy of reflective practice in legal education. The research approach taken was thus pragmatic and utilization-focused as the findings are intended to be helpful and actionable for legal educators. In Chapter 1, I acknowledge the context of the current and longstanding debate on what the purpose of university-based legal education is. I draw from the literature to describe three predominant visions within the debate and explain how building a ‘reflective muscle’ starting in law school is necessary to achieve each of the visions, and as a result the promise of reflective judgment skills should be carefully considered by legal education stakeholders. I also summarize the history of reflective practice and assessment of it in legal education. Next, in Chapter 2, I introduce and analyze the overlap among three reflective practice models that are associated with legal education. While the focus is on three models that are associated with legal education, much could be learned from other models in future research. In Chapter 3, I describe and map onto a ‘Pedagogic Field’ the reflective practice exercises associated with each of the three models, to establish a ‘Working Operationalization’ of reflective practice in undergraduate legal education. Chapter 4 moves to the assessment topic, to highlight concerns and considerations that should be taken into account in evaluating reflective practice exercises. A ‘Working List of Considerations’ is developed based on related scholarship both within and outside of law. Finally, Chapter 5 focuses on the promise of using scoring rubrics to encourage deeper critical and creative reflection among law students, as opposed to surface level learning or strategic engagement. The results and the significance of this thesis are two-fold. First, a summary and analysis of the overlap among reflective practice models and exercises is undertaken, which establishes, as stated above, a synthesized Working Operationalization, using a Pedagogic Field. Second, the hope is that the Working List of Considerations for assessing reflective practice exercises summarized and analyzed from the literature will be a helpful contribution to the field.
reflective practice, legal education, teaching and learning
Master of Laws (LL.M.)