How Many Pages Do You Require Students to Read for Each Class Hour?

It is well-documented that many students suffer psychological injury caused by some traditional practices of legal educators in the United States. When I was working on the Best Practices book, I learned that Gerry Hess and others believed that the heavy workload on students was one of the stress factors that contributed to harm. This struck a chord with me, because I temporarily lost my ability to read during the second semester of law school due to eye stress. In my second year, I actually had one professor who typically assigned 50 pages of casebook material per class hour. I hated his course because of that.
Until I recognized that excessive reading assignments might be harming my students, I assigned up to 30 pages of reading per class hour. After considering the negative impacts of too much reading, I changed my policy and assigned no more than 20 pages of reading per class hour and sometimes much less than that. Accomplishing this goal forced me to make some painful decisions about what to leave out, but I did it.
The result? My students appreciated what I did, and they were better prepared for class. I do not think the quality of our class discussions diminished at all, which surprised me.

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One Response

  1. Maybe we went to the same eye doctor down Massachusetts Avenue. I was terrified because my vision was blurring. The doctor gave me a thorough eye exam. At the end he said, “Law students frequently complain about blurring of vision.”

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