Elon hosts Teaching Law for Engaged Learning Conference
Elon University School of Law hosted an academic conference entitled "Teaching Law for Engaged Learning," on April 10. The conference brought together more than 50 legal educators from around the nation, all focused on developing as teachers and improving legal education.
"We were pleased to welcome so many colleagues in legal education to the conference, to consider with us how to improve and enrich teaching in law schools across the country," said Elon Law professor Steve Friedland. "Our focus was to identify teaching strategies that enrich classical traditions of legal education through new methods that resonate with law students today and derive from current research on engaged learning."
The conference was organized into four sessions: Course and Class Preparation, Teaching Methods, Assessment and Exams, and Developing as a Teacher.
“I’ve taught law school for 20 years, and I wanted to come to this conference because there is always room to grow,” said Luellen Curry of Wake Forest University School of Law. “That’s what I like about teaching – you can always do better and improve. Conferences like this one are very important.”
The conference was designed and presented by five law professors: Roberto Corrada (Denver University School of Law), Steven Friedland (Elon University School of Law), Gerry Hess (Gonzaga University School of Law), Michael Hunter Schwartz (Washburn University School of Law), Sophie Sparrow (Franklin Pierce Law Center). Cumulatively, the five conference presenters have authored or contributed to 11 books (including six casebooks) and more than 25 law review articles addressing law teaching, learning, assessment, and curriculum design.
A primary focus at the conference was on how to develop an engaged teaching style that fosters passion in the classroom while preparing students for the high expectations of the legal profession.
“Teaching is a skill, not a trait,” Katherine Trisolini of Loyola Law School said. “This conference is great because it’s valuable to see what other people are achieving through their teaching techniques.”
In addition to the April 10 conference, Elon Law also hosted a reception on April 9 for participants to meet and talk about their teaching philosophy.
“It was great to just think about teaching and be around other people who are passionate,” said Reed Benson of University of New Mexico Law School.
The Institute for Law Teaching and Learning (Gonzaga University School of Law and Washburn University School of Law) and Elon University School of Law's Center for Engaged Learning in the Law co-sponsored the conference.
“Elon is a beautiful school and put on a great conference,” said Susan Ayers of Texas Wesleyan Law School. “It was enlightening to get different perspectives on how to get students engaged.”
Since its inception, engaged learning has been one of the core values at Elon University School of Law. The law school's program of study is designed to encourage extensive student interaction with colleagues, faculty, practicing attorneys, judges, and business and non-profit leaders. The school's Preceptor Program, connecting practicing attorneys to law students in a mentoring and coaching relationship, is one example of Elon's unique program of law study.
“Students should feel very fortunate to go to Elon University where there is already an environment of engaged learning in place,” said conference participant Nick Nichols of Widener Law School. “Engaged learning is so important and often overlooked. Engaged learning is better than traditional legal theory because it’s much more about how the real world functions.”
Friedland expressed thanks to Elon Law faculty and staff who supported the conference, recognizing faculty assistant Jane Law in particular for her significant contributions to the success of the conference.
By Danielle Appelman, L'12
Additional reporting by Marina Emory, L'12