Event Title

We Want to See you Struggle: Celebrating Failure and Fostering Resilience in the Legal Research Classroom

Start Date

30-5-2019 1:00 PM

End Date

30-5-2019 2:00 PM

Document Type

Presentation

Description

New law students fear failure. In law school classrooms, they fear being called on and getting the wrong answer. In experiential legal research classrooms, they fear doing the wrong search or finding the wrong case or statute. Well-meaning (and often time-pressed) teachers and trainers often compound this fear by created well-managed, smooth-running “demos” in Westlaw and Lexis. These demos do a very good job of highlighting the sources, tools, and features essential to doing legal research, but they often obscure the struggle and failures inherent in legal research.

Recent research by psychologists such as Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth show how failure creates rich learning opportunities. Further, they find that the practice of failure strengthens resilience in learners – a skill that is critical for law students. Expanding on their research, Kaci Bishop outlines a “failure pedagogy” that maximizes learning in law students.

By obscuring the failed searches and failed strategies behind legal research, teachers miss an opportunity for both deepening student legal research skills and fostering resilience. Drawing on the psychological research on failure and Bishop’s “failure pedagogy”, this session will help teachers bring failure into their classrooms and use it to deepen student learning and foster their resilience.

Speaker Bio

Professor Mary Godfrey-Rickards is Assistant Director for Technical Services and Associate Law Library Professor at CUNY School of Law. She joins CUNY Law after holding positions at both Fordham Law School and Hofstra School of Law, where she served in a variety of roles including Assistant Director of Technical Services and Scholarly Commons Administrator. Professor Godfrey-Rickards' scholarly interests include how empirical research can be leveraged to inform curricular decisions in legal research instruction, particularly as it applies to public interest students. Professor Godfrey-Rickards received her J.D. from Fordham School of Law, a Master's Degree in Library and Information Studies from the City University of New York, and a B.A. in Economics from Fordham University.

Yasmin Sokkar Harker, Student Liaison Librarian and Law Library Professor, received her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University, a Master’s Degree in library and information studies from the University at Buffalo, and a B.A. in English and anthropology from Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining CUNY, she was a reference librarian at Hofstra School of Law. She has also held various positions in the legal publishing industry. Her research interests include legal research pedagogy, critical information literacy, legal research and social justice, and information access issues. Her 2012 article, “Information is Cheap, Meaning is Expensive: Building Analytical Skill into Legal Research Instruction” won the 2012 AALL/Lexis Nexis Call for Papers Award and appeared in Law Library Journal. Her chapter on critical information literacy appeared in Information Literacy and Social Justice: Radical Professional Praxis. Professor Sokkar Harker is a member of the librarian national honor society, Beta Phi Mu.

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May 30th, 1:00 PM May 30th, 2:00 PM

We Want to See you Struggle: Celebrating Failure and Fostering Resilience in the Legal Research Classroom

New law students fear failure. In law school classrooms, they fear being called on and getting the wrong answer. In experiential legal research classrooms, they fear doing the wrong search or finding the wrong case or statute. Well-meaning (and often time-pressed) teachers and trainers often compound this fear by created well-managed, smooth-running “demos” in Westlaw and Lexis. These demos do a very good job of highlighting the sources, tools, and features essential to doing legal research, but they often obscure the struggle and failures inherent in legal research.

Recent research by psychologists such as Carol Dweck and Angela Duckworth show how failure creates rich learning opportunities. Further, they find that the practice of failure strengthens resilience in learners – a skill that is critical for law students. Expanding on their research, Kaci Bishop outlines a “failure pedagogy” that maximizes learning in law students.

By obscuring the failed searches and failed strategies behind legal research, teachers miss an opportunity for both deepening student legal research skills and fostering resilience. Drawing on the psychological research on failure and Bishop’s “failure pedagogy”, this session will help teachers bring failure into their classrooms and use it to deepen student learning and foster their resilience.