David Thomson: Positive Results Using Hybrid Law School Textbooks

June 23, 2014

David Thomson, an Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers Fellow, has written two hybrid law school textbooks, which include both print and online components. The Skills & Values series of textbooks is “designed to provide a tool for teaching practice skills so that graduates of our law schools are competent to serve their clients skillfully and in an ethical manner.” In two recent blog posts (here and here), Professor Thomson wrote about his motivations for writing the textbooks and the results he has had using them in his classrooms.

Professor Thomson published Skills & Values: Discovery Practice in 2010 and Skills & Values: Lawyering Process - Legal Writing and Advocacy in 2013. Both books were inspired by the idea that "if we were going to teach in a different way than the 'socratic' case-based norm, then we would need different teaching materials." Each textbook provides the basic information students need to carefully read for each topic, as well as an online component where students read the relevant rules, related cases, and either take a quiz or review samples of the documents they must prepare each week and serve on their opposing counsel.

Having now taught classes with each textbook, Professor Thomson reported that the results were positive for three main reasons. First, students in his classes scored just as well on his rubrics as they did when he used other books. Second, he concluded, and students reported, that students were much more likely to actually complete the reading because the assignments, and the textbooks themselves, are shorter and more succinct. And finally, students' assessments of the books and the course were very positive, with students overwhelmingly responding in favor of the hybrid textbook format.

Riley Combelic is a third-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.