Form and technique, form and technique. It’s a philosophy drilled into athletes and artists the world over, but it applies equally well to law students.
The effectiveness of a student’s study habits can greatly impact their overall performance. During the spring semester 2014, the law school for the first time offered the Dean’s Academic Fellows Program, designed to provide interested students with tips on improving ways to manage their time, read cases and briefs, take notes, produce outlines, and polish their scholastic skills in general.
“The idea of the program was to recruit academically strong upper-class students with significant teaching and coaching experience and a commitment to supporting the CUA Law community,” says Maura DeMouy, the Columbus School of Law’s Assistant Dean for Student Support who oversees the law school’s Academic Excellence Program of which the Dean’s Academic Fellows are a part.
“These Fellows provided one-on-one academic study skills support to students throughout the spring semester. They also provided study skills sessions open to the entire law school three times a week,” she said.
Students could drop in the open sessions and stay as long as they liked, absorbing a kind of “best practices” tutorial on how to get the most out of law school.
Seven Academic Fellows were chosen for the program’s debut: Adam Hare, Jaclyn Kavendek, Alyssa King, Alison Landry, Jenna Munnelly, Jarrod Schlenker, and Jacob Szewczyk. All are rising 3Ls, six in the day program and one in the evening division.
The group was selected for their abilities as peer educators, advocates and mentors, with a talent for facilitating meaningful learning experiences for first-year law students.
“Above all, the Dean’s Academic Fellows help students to develop the critical skills to excel in law school such as acquiring and understanding context, developing critical reading skills, articulating relevant legal rules, and engaging in effective legal analysis,” says DeMouy.
How did the pilot program fare? By all accounts, it was a great success.
The Fellows found the experience of helping their classmates deeply rewarding, sharing thoughts like these:
“One of my students got the highest grade on a paper, and another one told me how my tips on how to take an open-book exam were a game-changer. It was very rewarding.”
“On two occasions, two different students came to the meeting excited that they had been called on in class and were able to answer the question because we had gone over aspect of the case in our last meeting. They were both very excited about it and I was glad to have helped make that one class a little easier.”
“Another highlight was when all three of my students texted me after getting their 2nd briefs back and they jumped up almost 20 points in their grades! It was very satisfying to see them improve so dramatically in their writing.”
The Dean’s Academic Fellows are returning this fall and will host a pizza lunch where students can get to know them on a casual basis during the first week of class: Thursday, Aug. 21 at 1:00 pm in room 213.