Law students report online learning gains, but the person always wins out

  • Law students surveyed say they are more satisfied with remote learning than a year ago
  • Online teaching methods have evolved since the early days of the pandemic, researchers say

(Reuters) – A new survey of law students shows more and more of them are taking courses online.

Students surveyed this spring by AccessLex Institute and Gallup had more to say about their distance learning or hybrid courses than they did a year ago, indicating that law schools have improved their online offerings during the two-year pandemic and that students are more open to distance learning.

In-person instruction still wins the prize: Of students surveyed who took most or all of their courses remotely this year, 72% rated their program as good or excellent, compared to 78% of those who attended classes in person. But that’s a much smaller gap than in 2021, when 57% of online JD students and 76% of in-person students gave their program high marks.

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More 2022 respondents also said they would highly recommend an online JD program to family and friends — up from 11% a year ago to 16% in the latest survey.

“The results suggest a modest improvement in both how students perceive distance learning, as well as how they rate the quality of their JD programs, whether online or in person,” the report says. Wednesday’s report.

Universities and colleges have faced more than 250 lawsuits from students seeking tuition reimbursement following the switch to remote learning in spring 2020, many of which have been dismissed.

Among the cases that are still pending in federal court is a proposed class action lawsuit filed by Harvard Law School student Abraham Barkhordar, who called the online courses “subpar in all respects.” Harvard persuaded a judge to dismiss the case last year, but an amended complaint is still pending.

AccessLex and Gallup first surveyed more than 1,700 law students at 147 schools in the spring of 2021 to gauge their perception of online classes, following the previous year’s pandemic-induced shift to remote learning. This spring, they again polled 820 law students who participated in the original study to find out if their feelings about online learning had changed after faculties and schools had more time to adjust. adapt to the new format.

Most survey respondents had returned to primarily in-person classes by fall 2021. But about one in seven continued to take a mix of in-person and online classes or took all of their classes online. Fully remote survey respondents tended to be clustered in lower-ranked law schools, the study found.

These remote students reported changes in the way their online classes were taught between 2021 and 2022. Professors relied less on the Socratic method – or cold calling on students – and used more discussions of group and online quizzes, they reported. And 53% said their JD programs were “worth the cost,” up from 33% the year before.

The findings suggest that online courses can be an effective way to deliver legal education to many students, especially those with family or work responsibilities, if done correctly, the study concluded.

Read more:

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Karen Sloane

Thomson Reuters

Karen Sloan reports on law firms, law schools and legal affairs. Contact her at [email protected]


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