Resources

Designed for law teachers who want to improve their teaching and students' learning, this book offers general teaching principles and dozens of concrete ideas. The first two chapters present foundational principles of learning and instruction as well as insights from students. The next 12 chapters...
This article traces the theory and practice behind the use of collaborative work at Northwestern. Section I summarizes the academic theory underlying the use of collaborative work, including the pedagogical and other benefits for students and faculty. Section II addresses the use of graded and...
In her article, Carole Buckner discusses Grutter v. Bollinger , the famous Supreme Court case that declared diversity in schools was a compelling enough state interest to consider race in the holistic assessment of a student for admissions. However, Buckner challenges law schools to refrain from...
In her article, Vernellia Randall discusses the philosophical and educational difference between traditional legal pedagogy and Cooperative Learning. She defines Cooperative Learning and makes the case for its application in law schools. Further, based on her experience with this method of teaching...
The Cooperative Learning Institute is an innovative nonprofit Institute established in 1987 to advance the understanding and practice of cooperation and constructive conflict resolution. The Institute has two missions: the first is to advance the theory and research on social interdependence and...
This article reports on the first phase of a three-part research project aimed at providing some insight into the motivations, operations, and effectiveness of student-led study groups in law school. In the first part of the project, reported here, Dorothy Evensen sets out to understand how law...

Cooperative Learning

"Cooperative learning is the instructional use of small groups so that students work together to maximize their own and each other's learning." Extensive research carried out by a variety of researchers over a wide range of subject areas and settings, and with students at all levels of education level, has demonstrated that cooperative learning produces higher achievement than do competitive or individualized teaching methods. This effect, however, does not automatically appear when students are placed in groups. For cooperative learning to be effective, five essential elements need to be purposefully structured into the learning experience. These are: 1) positive interdependence, 2) individual accountability, 3) promotive interaction, 4) the development of interpersonal skills, and 5) group processing (self-assessment of the group functioning). 

While cooperative learning strategies are just beginning to gain a foothold in law school classes, it has been demonstrated to increase retention and improve performance for minority students in law school, and to improve student writing in first year legal writing courses. There is little doubt that this strategy will prove to be as effective for many settings in legal education as it is for other disciplines.