There are many students that are too shy or timid to ask questions or comment in class or during classroom discussion. The same seems to hold true in law school students, and with female students in particular, according to a recent article and study in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The article also claims that based on the survey, female law students tend to work harder and study more for fear failure or being embarrassed in front of their peers.
The findings that female law school students are less likely to engage with their professors and in class discussions comes from a Law School Survey conducted by researchers at the Bloomington Center at Indiana University. It did not offer reasons for why women were less reluctant to engage with their professors or speak up in class, but researchers and peers that view the findings think they are disturbing, and hope that the findings will lead to more research. The survey, which is intended to provide feedback for more effective and engaging teaching and determine how much students actually learn skills and confidence, was gathered from about 25,000 students in over 70 law schools.
A portion of the students surveyed reported that interactions with their professors were helpful and helped give them the confidence and skills they felt they would need later in their professions. However, less than a third of the students surveyed, actually did work with their professors or spent time outside of class discussion with them, which was also a little disturbing to researchers and peers alike. The American Bar Association, which accredits law schools, has been proposing to hire more adjunct staff and reduce tenure. However, law professors such as Judith Wegner, a law professor at University of North Carolina, feel that this would take away from student and professor relationships, as it would be difficult for students to form mentor relationships with professors who would not be around very long.
The survey also produced additional information on law school students, such as the younger students surveyed were more likely to attend law school because they did not have a plan after college, while older students were more determined to help the general public. In addition, the survey concluded how students felt about how prepared they were after graduating, and in their careers, in which 53% of those students felt prepared to take on ethical dilemmas they may face while practicing. Not surprisingly, the study also showed that even though students know that their professors and mentors can play an integral part in their educations and ready them for their careers, most students do not take the time to seek help or spend time outside of class with their professors.
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