Legal Education

There's modest improvement in law student perceptions of distance learning, new report finds

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Law student satisfaction with online learning increased in the past year, but there are still gaps when compared with in-person classes, including participation, according to a report released Wednesday by Gallup and the AccessLex Institute.

Titled Law School in a Pandemic, Year 2: Moving from Emergency Remote Teaching to Emerging Best Practices in Distance Legal Education, it follows a 2021 report. A group of 820 students from 137 ABA-accredited law schools were interviewed for both. Most students returned to in-person classes in fall 2021, but 6% of respondents split their schedule between in-person and distance education, and 9% attended most classes online.

For the 2022 report, 16% of respondents indicated that they would highly recommend online JD classes to family and friends, compared to 11% in 2021. Also, 73% of the students who attended hybrid programs rated them as “excellent” or “good” in 2022, compared to 51% in 2021.

New questions were included in the 2022 report, comparing online and in-person learning experiences. Out of the respondents, 63% reported feeling “emotionally drained” after classes, while 48% gave the same response when asked about in-person classes.

The report also examined what influenced students’ perceptions of online course quality. It found that students who rated their JD programs positively also indicated that they could easily access career services resources, thought their schools had good communication about COVID-19-related changes, and often had guest lecturers for online classes.

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