Goal 3: Analysis and Application

Analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation are four of the learning processes that interact when you solve a problem for which the appropriate principle to use has not been suggested by the professor. In this kind of problem solving the more complex cognitive activities are often not distinct but interact in a sophisticated way. Application, for example, is considered a lower level of mental operation than analysis, but chronologically it follows analysis.

Analysis emphasizes the breakdown of the material into its constituent parts and requires the detection of relationships between the parts. It differs from application in that application emphasizes recalling the proper abstraction to solve a particular problem.

Analysis is the process of discerning similarities or differences between elements of a principle, concept or pattern. For example when you brief a case in class you must distinguish fact from opinion and relevant determinative facts from extraneous facts. When you are asked to state the legal reasoning, you are required to distinguish between the holding and dictum. You are often required to discern the material elements of a statutory rule or a case holding. Thus, the process of briefing a case is not a straight line linear activity as in reading; you are required to know, comprehend and analyze in order to adequately brief a case. (Click HERE for a web-based tutorial on Preparing for Class, which includes instruction on briefing cases.)

In applying the cognitive skill of application you must apply an appropriate abstraction to a new problem that has no specific mode of solution that the professor has previously identified. An example of application is applying rules of law to fact patterns.

As we saw earlier the professor should be assured that the class knows (i.e., can recall) and comprehend principles and concepts before launching into a complex application of legal principles.