Professor Jim Gash had a unique idea over the semester break, and I loved it.
He noted that upper division students often continue the same essay-writing mistakes on final exams that they made during their first year of law school. His thesis was that these students, for the most part, never get the opportunity to compare papers that receive high marks with those that receive low marks. With those thoughts in mind, yesterday’s ASP session came to life.
With permission from his class, Professor Gash made copies of six anonymous student essays from last semester’s Torts exam, ranging from high scores to low scores. We passed out copies of each of these essays, along with the essay exam and scoring sheet, to the eighty-five 1Ls that attended yesterday’s session (all 1Ls were invited). After a brief lecture on essay-writing, Professor Gash gave the students quiet time to read all six essays and rank them from top to bottom. Although there was variation among the votes, we discovered that the essay with the top score received the most votes among the students as the top scoring essay. The same held true for the second highest scoring essay, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and the sixth.
Professor Gash’s initial thesis held true, that it is possible for every student to see the difference in essays that will receive more points than others. The next step in his thesis is that students that can see the difference can DO it, too!
I thought yesterday’s session was a wonderful opportunity for students, and I am indebted to Professor Gash for the idea and for the time devoted to serving our students. I am convinced that it will prove beneficial for many.