Law Students

What do law students think of remote learning during the pandemic? A new survey sheds light

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First-year law students are more satisfied with online learning than those who started law school before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey released Wednesday by the AccessLex Institute and Gallup.

Titled Law School in a Pandemic: Student Perspectives on Distance Learning and Lessons for the Future, the survey was conducted between February and March 2021, with a sample of 1,739 currently enrolled law students.

For the spring 2021 and fall 2020 semesters, about 90% of law students took at least half their courses online, according to the survey.

Out of the respondents, 64% of the first-year students surveyed rated the quality of their education as “excellent” or “good,” but only 43% of upper-division students surveyed gave the same ratings. When asked about their legal education before the pandemic, 88% of respondents who were not first-year students rated it as “excellent” or “good.”

Out of all the respondents, 59% reported that their schools successfully responded to challenges of the pandemic, but only 43% rated their online education as “excellent” or “good.”

Also, of the students who were not 1Ls and attended all their classes online during the pandemic, 36% reported that their academic performance has declined. For students who were not 1Ls who had some in-person classes during the same time period, 35% reported a decline in academic performance.

The survey also parsed out responses based on law school rankings. Of the respondents who attended law schools that are in the top 50 of the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings, 6% indicated that they would recommend online JD courses to others, compared to 15% of the respondents who attended law schools ranked at 147 or below on the list.

Additionally, students who rated their online classes as “excellent” during the pandemic were more likely to have courses that combined teaching methods associated with in-person and remote learning.

However, only 51% of respondents attending classes online reported that the Socratic method was used in all or most of their courses. Comparatively, 66% of the respondents who attended in-person classes said professors included the back-and-forth dialogue in lectures.

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