11th Annual Northwest Clinical Conference: On Assessment

Wish you all could have been there for the 11th Annual Northwest Clinical Conference at the beautiful Sleeping Lady Conference Center outside Leavenworth in Washington’s Cascade Mountains. Our topic?  A central Best Practices issue:  Assessment.

In educating us about assessment master teachers Gerry Hess, Sophie Sparrow and Greg Munro demonstrated best teaching practices to clinicians from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, British Columbia and, yes, even Northern California (Go Cardinal!).     Use multiple teaching methods?  Check. Encourage collaboration?   Check.  Take delight in teaching?  What a delight for us to watch them demonstrate that one!

And what did we take away?   Among much else, these reminders:

  • Be concrete about what we’re evaluating our students on.  Follow the example of Sophie’s wonderfully detailed performance competencies clinical rubric.
  • Create a safe place for ourselves to engage in assessment of both our teaching and our programs.  (As my colleague Michael Robinson-Dorn observes “Aren’t we supposed to make it safe to commit 1st level errors?”)
  • What we assess, we get more of.

We also had lots of fun, including, thanks to Gail Hammer, a great game in which we got to say  “I give you a rubric.  A what??” a zillion times!

We still have a long way to go in figuring out this assessment stuff.  But if we’re serious about transforming legal education and looking for a driver, assessment is where I’d place my bet.

One Response

  1. It sounds like another great conference was held in Washington! I hope we will continue to see exploration of assessment at more conferences related to law teaching. The topic has ongoing relevancy to every aspect of what we do. In other words, conference planners should not be able to say, “oh, we did that last year” when looking at planning a conference. The more we learn about assessment methods, the more opportunities we have to incorporate Best Practices. Seeing assessment examples from others and hearing experiences can help us help our students learn.

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