If all goes as planned, the fall semester grades for the 1L class will be released at 3pm PST on Friday afternoon. As much as we try to put grades in proper perspective, it is still a big event, and the students are understandably anxious.
At the AALS meeting in New York, I heard a presentation from a law school administrator from Indiana. The presentation highlighted a survey that focused on an attitudinal trait termed “hope” — which can be described as a positive attitude regarding things that can be controlled (distinguished from “optimism” – which was described as a positive attitude about things out of one’s control). Simply, a study revealed that those with high levels of hope were found to have greater life satisfaction as well as higher GPAs.
What is interesting about this study in terms of grade release is that one of the characteristics of those with high levels of hope is that they looked at evaluation as feedback — as opposed to personalizing evaluation. In other words, those with hope received their grades as instruction on what they can do to improve instead of receiving grades as a statement about them as individuals. Again, for the hopeful student, a grade is simply feedback on how to adjust one’s approach rather than a statement on one’s ability or intelligence.
I met with all three 1L sections this week and did my best to communicate this concept prior to the big day. I hope (or, maybe more accurately, am optimistic!) that the students will receive the grade evaluations with a healthy perspective.
Assistant Dean for Student Life