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SLO ETHICS Spring 2012

Spring 2012 Assessment Report

Sprint 2013 Assessment Report







Ethics Case Study

Class Assessment 2012 Assignment 2013 Net Gain
Law 1  37%  75% 38%
Law 2  85%  -
Law 10  76%  86%
Law 11  74%  91%
Law 12  85%  86%
Law 13  75%  77%
Law 16  85%  91%
Law 17 80%  89%
Law 18 76%  82%
Law 19 81%  90%
Law 20 82%  96%
Law 34 88%  91%
Summary 79%  87%

Law 13 - Gudino  77% vs. 75% - net gain 2%

Law 12 - Rose - 86% vs. 85% - net gain 1%

Law 11 - Jackman - 91% vs. 74% - net gain 17%

Law 17 - Lopez  89% vs. 80% - net gain 9%

Law 1 - David Jordan 75% vs. 37% - net gain 38%

Law 10 - Jordan  - 86% vs. 76% - net gain 10%

Law 16 - Jordan  91% vs. 85%  - net gain 6%

Law 18 - Jordan - 82% vs. 76% - net gain 6%

Law 19 - Jordan - 90% vs. 81% - net gain of 9%

Law 20 - Lampert - 96% vs. 82% - net 14% gain
Law 34 - Jordan - 91% vs. 88 - net gain of 3%

Spring 2012 Assessment Report

Spring 2013 Assessment Report


We developed a new rubric, based upon the book Critical Thinking Skills (see http://criticalthinking.org)
see below

Assessment Results


10.00 pts.

5.00 pts.



Student elaborates on the application of the appropriate ethical principles to solve the ethics case study


Student partially elaborates on the application of the appropriate ethical principles to solve the ethics case study




Student is accurate in the selection of the correct ethical principle to apply in solving the ethics case study


Student is somewhat accurate in the selection of the correct ethical principle to apply in solving the ethics case study




Student provides analysis that is relevant to the solution of the ethics case study


Student provides some analysis that is relevant to the solution of the ethics case study




Student is able to grasp and discuss the complexities and difficulties of the ethics case study.


Student is able to grasp and discuss some of the complexities and difficulties of the ethics case study.




The students were given a case study, along with supporting materials (ethical theories, powerpoint, and grading rubric) which required the appropriate application of ethics which is one of our law Program Learning Outcomes.

The case study required students to learn five theories of ethics, and then to apply the theories to an ethical dilemma as set forth in a case study.


In Fall 2012, and Spring 2013 (following the Spring 2012 assessment of the ethics case study) we ended up just imbedding content rich materials on ethics and critical thinking skills at the beginning of the semester in all of our law classes and required each of our students in every law class to carefully read, review, analyze and discuss the principles set forth in these articles.

Conclusion: By imbedding content rich materials that focus on certain skills sets required of paralegals, and infuse these materials throughout all of our classes, and require discussion, the students learn from reading and posting to discussion forums and become more effective paralegals.

All 12 classes in our law program were assessed during the  Spring 2012 semester. The students did fairly well with the case study (see above % for each class, and overall average (79%).   Both briefing of law cases and this ethics case study require students to perform 4 steps as follows:

1. Clearly define the legal or ethical principle (articulation of the substantive law or ethical principle is essential).

2. Spot the legal issue of ethical dilemma (similar to a doctor diagnosing the correct illness given many symptoms)

3. Fully discuss each relevant fact and demonstrate how it impacts the case law or ethics case study.

4. Arrive at a conclusion - demonstrate a full understanding and application of the legal or ethical principle, be able to understand the public policies involved, the legal rationale for the decision, and in the ethics case, propose alternative solutions which help to resolve the dilemma while balancing the competing interests of the parties.

Assessment of the ethics case study reveals that students seem to handle steps 2 and 4 fairly well (spot the issue, arrive at a conclusion), but a common mistake amongst all of our students is to gloss over, overlook, or fail to handle steps 1 and 3 (clearly define terms, and fully discuss the relevant facts in a law case or ethics case study).

 Suggested resolutions:

During the Spring 2012 semester the law faculty will discuss some of the below possible solutions to improve our students' failure to clearly define terms and discuss relevant facts.


  • infuse more ethics case studies, definitions, theories, and practice identifying and resolving ethics dilemmas throughout our discipline and program

  • draft a different case study with a model answer for every semester which can then be used as extra credit for students at the end of the semester, and continue to assess the ethics case study approach

  • better craft "instructions for class assignments, projects, case law briefings, etc. and stress the importance of following instructions carefully in each class

  • create a youtube video (possibly humorous) showing how not following instructions ends in bad results

  • instruct students to remove the use of personal opinions and supplant them with supported and substantiated legal arguments

  • develop strategies, best practices and new pedagogy to assist instructing students on how to better balance the competing interests and policies between disputing parties

  • increase possible internship/job shadowing "hands on" experience for students to gain "real life experience" in the resolution of disputes and ethical dilemmas

  • look for good academic pedagogy, perhaps in the sciences, to infuse a more "objective" fact based analysis

  • work on developing best practices in teaching analysis which apply equally to case law briefing, and ethics case studies

  • explore alternative types of assignments which engage students more fully. one might be group projects with use of interesting, dynamic case studies which require more innovative thinking and analysis

  • possibly develop a separate law class in ethics and add it to our paralegal curriculum

  • create a Spring Ethics Composuim or Forum between several disciplines - i.e." Interdisciplinary Ethics Forum"  (Administration of Justice, History, Psychology, Sociology, other Social Sciences, Humanities and Liberal Arts instructors, courses, and disciplines, etc.) and to argue pro and con a "hot issue of the day"

  • develop more assignments and projects which are "problem solving" and which require more "open ended" thinking and analysis, such as finding cases given a "sparse set of facts", "searching to find solutions" type of assignment  

  • find a simple "formula" we can follow to develop more student engagement, and develop more "search and problem solving" oriented assignments.

    updated: 6/25/13



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