Teaching Law Students to Be Self-Regulated Learners
Law Review Article
educational psychology and metacognition
This article articulates a model of self-regulated learning for law students and lawyers, explains why law schools should aspire to teach their students to be self-regulated learners and details a curriculum designed to accomplish that goal.
The first section of the article explains self-regulated learning. Self-regulated learning is a cyclical model of the learning process. In fact, all learners self-regulate, although many new law students are novice self-regulated learners. Self-regulation involves three phases. In the planning phase, learners decide what they want to learn and how they will learn it. Expert self-regulated learners are more likely to strive for mastery, to consciously make strategic choices in deciding how to study, and to consciously plan when and where they will study. In the second phase, expert learners implement their adopted strategies while monitoring whether they are learning and maintaining attention, and they quickly act to rectify confusion or distraction. In the reflection phase, expert learners evaluate their learning process to determine whether it was as effective and efficient as possible, attribute successes to personal competence and effort and failures to specific strategic choice errors, and plan how they will approach similar tasks in the future.
The second section argues that law schools should include self-regulated learning skills among the skills they teach. This section details education studies from within and outside of legal education that show that expert self-regulated learners learn more, learn it better and enjoy the learning process more than their novice peers.
The final section describes a curriculum designed to teach law students to be self-regulated learners. The curriculum, designed to replace law schools' traditional orientation programs, provides concrete ideas for teaching these skills and for reinforcing that instruction in students' first-year courses.