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Researcher Says Law Students Need to Learn to Read Like Lawyers

Posted Apr 19, 2010 5:30 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Most law students are told they need to think like lawyers. But a Pennsylvania State University researcher says students also need to read like lawyers.

The scientist and higher education professor, Dorothy Evensen, formerly worked as an item writer for the reading comprehension section of the Law School Admission Test, according to a press release. Now she studies law students’ reading strategies.

Evensen found that the better law students spent more of their reading time using strategies that involve setting expectations, asking themselves questions and connecting with the overall purpose of their reading, according to a law review article summarizing her research. Students who had lower grades spent more time using strategies such as paraphrasing and rereading, according to the article by Leah Christensen, who is now a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law.

Evensen collaborated with three other researchers to develop a test that measures law school reading skills and will be explaining it in a book aimed at law professors.

“We contend that all law school teachers are responsible for facilitating the development of necessary and extensive literacy skills among their students,” Evensen says in the press release.

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