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Monday, January 7, 2013

Critiquing Students--A Guide to Different Methodologies

Last week, in response to a blog post about storytelling, we received a few comments about war stories and critiquing law students. Here is a link to that post and its comments.

I also received some emails asking for more details about NITA's 4-step critiquing methodology (Headnote-Playback-Prescription-Rationale) and the three-step Rose derivative (What-Why-How). People who have received NITA training and also attended the EATS conference at Stetson will be familiar with both approaches, including their similarities, differences, strengths and weaknesses. 

There are other critiquing and learning improvement methods as well that have been used over the years. These include peer review, student-centered Socratic dialogue, video review, and so forth. 

With 40 years of usage, the NITA technique remains by far the most dominant, but some of the other alternatives, including Rose's technique, are gaining traction. Those of us who have been lucky enough to learn at the feet of Joshua Karton, whom I consider to be the high priest and shaman in the advocacy teaching temple, have seen the value of a holistic approach to helping advocates improve: Joshua teaches attorneys how to be human beings again, and in so doing, releases within them persuasive powers they had long since forgotten.

A few years ago, I published an article discussing several different critiquing techniques (including both the NITA and Rose techniques) and proposing an alternative critique for teaching environments, such as law school courses or trial team coaching, where the instructor has the luxury or more time with students. For those who are interested, I provide a link to the article, From Voyeur to Lawyer: Vicarious Learning and the Transformational Advocacy Critique.

My article includes references to much of the existing scholarly literature about advocacy critiquing. There isn't nearly as much of it as one might think, and that brings up another point I'd like to make: we in the advocacy teaching community need to revitalize scholarship in this area. There was a "golden era" of advocacy scholarship from the mid-'70's to very early '90's, but since then, the scholarly articles on the subject have been few and far between. Simply put, there are many opportunities to do fascinating research and write interesting articles on persuasion, advocacy, juries, teaching, and so forth.

One last, but related, thing: Charlie, Hugh and I all receive insightful emails from people who've read blog posts and want to share ideas with us about the things that have been posted. We love getting those emails (there are a LOT of people out there with great ideas), but even more, we'd like it if you'd post those thoughts as comments to the blog posts--that way, everyone who reads the blog could have the benefit of your wisdom and insights.

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