Madison's first presentation was with Lynne Marie Kohm, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and External Affairs at Regent University School of Law. The two introduced Regent Law's curriculum changes in program assessments. Although such developments are now an expectation by ABA Standard 315, Regent was among the first in the group of schools attending the presentation to make curriculum changes based on taking selected program learning outcomes. As Professor Madison commented, “I have received a number of requests after the SEALS Conference for the materials we developed to get to the point at which we’re actually gathering data on the extent to which our J.D. program is meeting the Program Learning Outcomes our faculty has adopted.”
|Dean Lynne Marie Kohm with Professor Madison|
Madison's other two talks were on ways to improve formative assessments so that students receive meaningful feedback during the semester rather than having the final exam as their first indication of how they're really doing. Madison is a fan of this approach. Another new ABA standard, Standard 314, requires that law schools employment formative assessments (in-semester evaluations designed to give “meaningful feedback” to students, and also to use multiple summative (graded) assessments rather than the traditional end-of-semester final exam as the sole grade. "To me that's as much about the legal academy recognizing its own professional identity as teachers and to provide superior methods to enhance student learning, in both doctrinal courses, clinical courses, and courses that address ethical decisions," he said.
Between 700 and 1000 folks attended the 2016 conference, held at Amelia Island Resort. Other Regent Law faculty in attendance included Dean Michael Hernandez and Professors Jim Duane, Tom Folsom, Tessa Dysart, and newest faculty member Caleb Griffin. Professor Madison and Tessa Dysart are members of SEALS New Law Teachers Committee, responsible for programming to help new professor prepare to teach courses for the first time and best practices to use in that process.
"Three presentations in three days was draining," said Professor Madison, "but it was also an atmosphere of professors trading ideas, encouraging one another, and generally having a good time."
|L to R: Dean Kohm, Prof. James Duane, former Regent Law Prof. Haskell Murray, and Prof. Tom Folsom|
Learn more about SEALS on their website:
The Southeastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS), a regional association of law schools, hosts an annual meeting that is held in late July or early August. A highlight of the meeting is the New Scholars Workshop which offers newer faculty the opportunity to present a work in progress, and to receive feedback from assigned mentors and audience participants.
The meeting also offers legal educators panels and discussion groups that focus on pedagogy; thus offering law professors an opportunity to enhance their classroom teaching.
Finally, it provides numerous panels and discussion groups of a host of cutting-edge topics that will prove important for both scholarly works and teaching covering the breadth of legal issues. Because the meeting attracts scholars from all over the U.S., indeed from around the world, the discussions can be lively and intense.