A Blueprint for Using Assessments to Achieve Learning Outcomes and Improve Students’ Learning

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date



educational psychology and metacognition


For over a decade, there has been agreement among legal educators that assessments are a critical tool to improve students’ learning. We are beginning to understand that the types of assessments we use have the greatest influence on how and what students learn. As a result of recent ABA accreditation requirements, there is now a scramble in law schools to adopt assessments that improve students’ learning and bar passage rates so as to satisfy these new requirements. Nevertheless, there has been no clear methodology to assist doctrinal faculty in creating an effective assessment program. After twenty-seven years of developing assessment programs that have improved students’ learning and bar passage rates, this article is an attempt to provide faculty and administrators a blueprint for incorporating an effective assessment program.

The article is divided into four parts. Part one recounts how the assessments the author has used over the years have evolved to become an assessment program to help students improve their learning skills, perform better in law school, and pass the bar exam. Part two describes how to design assessments that relate to course learning objectives and help students in developing critical analytical and self-learning skills. Part three describes the difference between general and individual feedback, explains why individual feedback is the most important feature of an effective assessment program, and enumerates the characteristics of effective individual feedback. Part four includes specific steps that faculty, administrations, and academic achievement professionals should take in order to create an assessment program to improve students’ self-learning and analytical skills.