Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment

Assessment at Denver Law

Each year we assess parts of our JD Program. We begin with the Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs). We design research projects to answer the question, Are we meeting--or, how well are we meeting--these outcomes? In this section, we discuss three recent research projects; below find brief descriptions and links to the longer articles.

  • "A Statistical Exploration: Analyzing the Relationship (If Any) between Externship Participation and Bar Exam Scores," by Scott Johns, Denver Law professor. Claims have arisen that experiential legal education might harm bar passage performance. Denver Law--and many other law school--have made experiential learning a major part of their curriculum. Experiential learning relates directly to Denver Law SLOs 4 and 5. An important question is whether or not the emphasis on experiential learning negatively affects a student's bar exam performance. In this paper, Professor Johns statistically analyzed this question and found that "externship participation ... has no observable statistical relationship to bar exam scores...." Read the entire study here.
  • "If You Build it, They Will Come: What Students Say About Experiential Learning," by David I.C. Thompson, Denver Law professor, and Stephen Daniels, American Bar Foundation senior research professor. In the Fall of 2013, Denver Law announced its Experiential Advantage Curriculum (EAC), a guarantee to all incoming students that they would be able to earn at least 30 credits in courses featuring experiential learning. In this article, authors Thompson and Daniels analyzed whether the EAC influenced students' decision to attend Denver Law; whether students about to graduate, reflecting back, ranked experiential learning as important; and what these graduating students valued about experiential learning. Read the entire study here.
  • "Improving Academic Advising at Denver Law." Each spring, Denver Law students take the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE). Results from the 2014 to 2016 surveys demonstrated that, on the average, Denver Law students rated academic advising at our law school more negatively than did students from other law schools. This is a problem--students require excellent academic advising in order to take full advantage of their legal education. Based on the relatively negative ratings in 2014 to 2016, a committee composed of Denver Law faculty, administrators and staff discussed ways to improve academic advising. They designed and, in the Spring of 2017, put into place an improved system of academic advising. Results from the 2017 LSSSE (administered after changes took effect) indicate more positive evaluations of academic advising by Denver Law students. Read the entire study here.
Sturm College of Law
University of Denver
2255 E. Evans Avenue
Denver, CO 80208