Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University
Dedicated to the study of instructional design for legal education, the Center for Legal Pedagogy uses principles from the cognitive sciences to study, implement, and evaluate law school teaching methodologies. We systematically study what law schools teach and how law students learn.
The primary, over-arching research aim of the Center for Legal Pedagogy is to investigate how legal knowledge becomes organized; how the cognitive processes that accompany legal knowledge develop with learning and experience; and how the acquisition of legal knowledge is measured and assessed.
The Center for Legal Pedagogy’s focus is multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary. It recognizes that we now have many of the investigative tools needed for the advanced, empirical study of legal knowledge, reasoning, learning, and teaching. The Center employs computer-based technologies that been developed to enhance educational research. It uses the cognitive sciences — including cognitive psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of mind and epistemology, artificial intelligence, and linguistics — to provide the theoretical means for studying formal process theories of human cognition. Turning to advances in the understanding of the nature of competence and the phenomena of expertise, the Center seeks to provide a thorough analysis of the objectives of instruction and offer a solid basis for studying the learning of the law, for designing conditions for learning, and for assessing acquired competence in the law.
The Center for Legal Pedagogy has developed a series of initiatives and educational programs to enhance the Thurgood Marshall School of Law’s curriculum and instruction, including pre-law programs, academic support programs, educational workshops for both professors and students, and collaborative teaching and instructional projects. In addition to providing educational support to deliver mentoring and advising programs to students, the Center offers faculty development forums to enable faculty members to share and impart teaching innovations, to encourage research, and to foster scholarship.
Each year, the Center for Legal Pedagogy, partnering with the Thurgood Marshall School of Law’s Office of Assessment and TMSL’s Academic Support services, measures the skills and abilities of the law school’s incoming 1L students. Students participate in a battery of diagnostic tests that examine learning strategies and styles, critical thinking, writing, and law-school readiness. The Center reports the data collected from these diagnostic tools and makes the reports available to faculty members in order to mentor and plan teaching methodologies. The Center uses these data to advise students during individual consultations, helping them identify areas where students would benefit most from educational interventions.
The Center for Legal Pedagogy’s ongoing studies include: (1) A correlation study of student performance on LSAT, UGGPA, INDEX, LSI, LASSI, Watson-Glaser, a writing diagnostic, midterm grades, first-year GPA, second-year GPA, and third-year GPA, using the SPSS statistical package; (2) a bar passage study of student performance on LSAT, UGPA, INDEX, second- and third-year required course performance, and third-year GPA as predictors of bar exam performance; (3) an empirical study of the effectiveness of the TMSL’s tutorial program; and (4) a study of the application of dual-coding theory to legal education.
Through its research studies and publications, the Center for Legal Pedagogy offers faculty and students pedagogical assistance with academic performance and skills by providing information about instructional design and outcomes assessment.
Inquiries may be directed to:
Tamara S. Tabo
Center for Legal Pedagogy
Thurgood Marshall School of Law
Texas Southern University
3100 Cleburne St.
Houston, TX 77004
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