Does reading on digital devices lead to deep reading?

Does the technology we use to read actually change the way we read and comprehend written material? Is reading on a screen a different mental process than reading on paper? Reading is such a critical component for legal education and many legal scholars have found that effective reading comprehension skills are a key differentiator between successful and struggling law students.

Researchers are trying to understand differences in comprehension between reading on digital devices versus on paper to develop the best strategies to transfer tried and true print reading strategies into digital reading environments.  To be most effective, researchers suggest readers will need a “bi-lateral brain,” a brain that is adept with technology, but also employs deep reading skills no matter the technology.

An article in Education Week, Digital Reading Poses Learning Challenges for Students, summarizes the issue:

When reading on screens, for example, people seem to reflexively skim the surface of texts in search of specific information, rather than dive in deeply in order to draw inferences, construct complex arguments, or make connections to their own experiences. Research has also found that students, when reading digitally, tend to discard familiar print-based strategies for boosting comprehension.

A similar article in Scientific American from last year, The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens, summarized recent research on this issue, suggesting that while “E-readers and tablets are becoming more popular as such technologies improve, but research suggests that reading on paper still boasts unique advantages.”

When reading on screens, people seem less inclined to engage in what psychologists call metacognitive learning regulation—strategies such as setting specific goals, rereading difficult sections and checking how much one has understood along the way.




Fail Your Way to Amazing Things (Even the Bar Exam)

Legal educators and law students can borrow some ideas about failure from the corporate world. In a recent article on, Ekaterina Walter examines the nature of “failure.” Failure is a delay, not a definition. In many ways, each failure is a unique opportunity to learn – what didn’t work?

In academic success, I coached many a student grappling with “failing” – failing a test, an important paper, an entire course, failing out of law school, or failing the bar exam. I worked on validating the feelings of frustration, sadness, and grieving in order to transition to the “what can you learn from this” opportunity. Some students couldn’t, or didn’t want to, hear me.

But many students, brave students, recognized the counter-intuitive value in failure, that failing is not defeat, but merely a detour, that sometimes students need to take the long way around to truly learn from trying, not succeeding, and trying again.

For the students who have recently learned that they have not been successful YET on the bar exam, don’t despair. Mourn your loss, but don’t accept defeat.

You haven’t failed. You’ve been given an amazing opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Don’t blow it. Sometimes you have to fail your way to amazing things.


Tougher grade curves + military-style resilience training for law students?

Do law students need toughening up? A fellow at Duke Law School thinks so. In a story in the ABA Journal, Daniel Bowling recommends a two-prong approach: 1. Toughen up & standardize grading curves across faculties and across schools for a more “level playing field.” 2. Offer military-style resilience training to law students to develop strength awareness and alignment.

Resilience training, maybe not military-style, aka “Battlemind Training,” could be beneficial to assist law students in coping with the new stresses and pressures faced in law school. Or, boot camp for law students might take on a whole new meaning.

Law School Flash Fiction: Describe Law School In 6 Words Or Less

Lisa Mazzie, a legal writing professor at Marquette University Law School, challenged her students to a round of “flash fiction” – writing a story in six words or less. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway won a bet challenging him to write a story in six words or less. His flash fiction: “For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

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Curious About The Flipped Classroom?

Everyone is talking about “flipping the classroom.” But, what is it? How does it work? How is it different from traditional classroom teaching?

Check out this fun and informative infographic about Flipped Classrooms and some of the research behind it.

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