A Reluctant Assessor’s Conversion

At the Conference on Building an Assessment Plan from the Ground Up, Professor Judith Daar of Whittier Law School presented her journey through assessment from “Reluctant Assessor” to a professor who values assessment. Professor Daar described how she first began thinking about assessment in the context of Assisted Reproductive Technology. She described for the audience the effects of statutory requirements that doctors be required to report multiple births resulting from IVF and the effect of that “assessment” in lowering IVF multiple births. Having seen that assessment makes a difference in medical settings, she was then ready to try some assessment in her own classroom. She created a pre- and post-test survey instrument in adverse possession unit that was intended to assess preparedness and comprehension. In creating this approach to assessment, she drew on the model required to award continuing education credit in medical education. While in the pre-test, many students accurately stated the holding in an adverse possession case, but after her class in which she criticized the court’s opinion, with the intent that students would learn critical analysis. However, her post-test demonstrated that many students thought that critique meant that they had misstated the holding in the case. Thus, she was surprised to see that she thought she was teaching a skill of critical analysis but the results caused her to realize that the students thought that in modeling that critique she was teaching substance. This caused her to realize how much students relied on the didactic of the classroom to “deliver the law” – that they do not trust their own ability to learn. A fascinating challenge !

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