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40 Capital University Law Review 149 (2012)


With the recent criticisms that law schools do not do enough to prepare students for the practice of law, law schools are beginning to develop ways to better prepare their students. These criticisms have focused on the lack of teaching students to be lifelong learners. In fact, a recent report by the Carnegie Foundation stated that law schools need to teach students to be more "metacognitive about their learning." Generally, metacognition refers to having both an awareness of and control over one’s learning and thinking. Put simply, it is thinking about thinking.

The way law schools currently assess their students hinders the improvement of students’ metacognitive skills. Law schools and law professors focus too much on completing an end-product in a course — final exams, memoranda of law, appellate briefs, etc. They tend to only assess these end-products without really knowing if the students properly learned the material and are able to transfer this knowledge to new and novel situations they will encounter while practicing law. To improve the learning and metacognitive skills of law students, professors need to do more to critique the learning process of their students and focus less on simply assessing a final product.

The article proposes integrating self-assessment tools into the formative assessment process to improve the students’ metacognitive skills. By integrating these steps into lawyering skills courses and clinics, professors are more likely to help students "learn like a lawyer." The articles discusses metacognition, effective formative assessment techniques, and practical ideas on how to improve the learning of law students.