Successful Assessment Grant Proposal: Law

Focus: Piloting use of iClickers as a tool for introducing formative assessments


Project Information

Project title: Clicking to Assessment Success

Contact person: Michelle Taylor

Role/Position: Assistant Director, Scholarships and Assessment at the Law School

Department/Unit: Law School

Program name: J.D.

Participating colleagues/collaborators:



Michelle Taylor

Academic Affairs, Student

Affairs, Business Affairs. Law

Susan Cancelosi

Academic Affairs, Law

Meghan Short

Academic Affairs/Student Affairs, Law

Christopher Lund*

Faculty, Law

Anthony Dillof*

Faculty, Law


Reason for proposal:

  1. How is program-level assessment currently done in your program?

Currently, the law school's program-level assessment for the Juris Doctor (here after referred to as J.D.) program focuses primarily on summative assessments primarily using data from final writing assignments, final grades and percentages of those grades broken down into various statistics. While this method gives a good summative assessment of the J.D. program, it fails to provide faculty and students with information that could provide the intermediate assessment needed to better serve students.

  1. What, specifically, needs improvement with respect to those assessment practices, processes, or instruments?

Unlike a traditional graduate program, law school courses are graded based on one final project or exam. A minority of courses administer mid-term exams or assignments but often, those courses do not formally grade the assignments rendering them useless for overall assessment purposes. Due to the sheer structure of J.D. programs, the law school struggles to acquire formative assessment data. Formative level assessments are important to provide faculty and students with feedback at various points in the semester to ensure that we are continuously meeting our program goals and making improvements where needed.

It is important that solid assessment is done at the formative level as this type of data from any of the required core courses is directly related to success in the upper level electives, the overall skills as stated in the program learning outcomes and ultimately increase the percentage of students who pass the bar exam on the first attempt.

  1. What factors or conditions have contributed to the area(s) needing improvement?

Law students have a set of core courses that must be taken during the first year. These courses set the foundation for the concepts, theories and strategies students will need to successfully excel in the upper level courses and pass the bar exam. With the lack of mid-term exams/projects, as previously mentioned, there are gaping holes in the assessment process. Without implementing a way to gather formative assessment data, the possibility of improving the J.D. program proves challenging.

Starting with the 2016 incoming classes, The American Bar Association (ABA), the accrediting body of the law school, requires that all law school implement both summative and formative assessments of the J.D. program.


Proposed actions and expected impact:

  1.  What steps will you take to improve your program's outcomes assessment practices, processes, or instruments if you receive funding? Be as specific as you can about the link between needed improvement(s) and your proposed actions.

If we receive funding, we will be piloting a program using iClicker2 to promote active learning in the classroom. iClicker is a hand held response system that syncs with various programs for seamless integration of polling questions and/or Q&As into a lecture. The results can be viewed in real-time and saved/shared. With clicker technology, faculty will have access to ongoing data that will help determine if students are meeting the program outcomes at each step in a required course. This knowledge will allow faculty to shift classroom dynamics in whatever way they see fit to ensure that students are gaining and developing the skills as set forth in the JD program learning outcomes, which will be built upon as they progress through the program's upper-level courses.

The devices will be distributed to a sample of incoming 2019 first-year law students (ILS) along with an instructor's base. This pilot group will be a sample of the incoming 2019 ILS of approximately 60 incoming students. These students will be grouped together in cohorts that are assigned to a participating faculty member teaching a required first-year course. Each student in the course of approximately 30 students will receive a clicker. These students will be intermittently quizzed/polled as a way to gather formative data in selected core first- year law courses. Members of faculty who teach first-year classes and are familiar with the clicker technology will spearhead implementation in the classroom during the Fall 2019 semester. These professors will review polling questions with the Associate Dean,

Office of Teaching and Learning (if necessary), the Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation and the law school's assessment coordinator to ensure the polling questions are formulated in a way to benefit the assessment process.

After posing questions in class with the goal of capturing a snap shot of student understanding, the polling data will be forwarded to the law school assessment coordinator who, along with the participating faculty, will review the results with the Associate Dean. If the majority of the group has grasped concepts, the professor may feel more comfortable moving forward while he/she may decide to review material during the next class if the results of the poll are substandard.

In short, the information gathered will give us insight as to whether students are successfully grasping concepts as set forth in our program learning outcomes, which sets the foundation for bar passage. Students and the professors will also benefit from the results, as they will be able to pinpoint any gaps in learning/understanding in real time.

The use of this pilot program will also help the law school determine if the iClickers should be implemented in other courses that are essential to the J.D., LL.M., and the newer programs (Master of Studies in Law and the Minor in Law) as a tool to collect data at various points throughout the academic semester/year.

  1. How will your assessment practices, processes, or instruments improve as a result of your project?

Incorporating active learning by using the iClicker tool will help the students determine their individual comprehension levels at various points in the semester. It will also help our faculty navigate the flow of their lectures with a better understanding of student comprehension (or lack thereof). Ultimately, it will help the law school programs to build stronger foundations on the program level as we are able have a glimpse of what is working in the classroom and make needed changes to shape our overall program.

Currently, faculty involvement in assessment is nonexistent. By incorporating classroom technology in the form of iClickers, we will involve faculty in the assessment process while gathering formative assessment data. The iClicker is a non-intrusive way to capture data that does not interfere with a faculty member's established classroom dynamic. The clickers are reusable and can be used in subsequent semesters, which will allow more faculty members access to the technology. As a result of this project, we will be able to determine if iClickers will help capture and measure formative assessment (as it has at other law schools). It will help us make the step toward a better rounded assessment process across all of our programs.

Assessment expertise:

  1.  What experience in assessment does your team bring to the project?
  • Susan Cancelosi, Associate Dean, Law School: As Associate Dean of the law school, one of Susan Cancelosi's many responsibilities includes overseeing academic affairs including curriculum development, maintaining the school's academic regulations and ensuring compliance with both the university and the American Bar Association's assessment guidelines.
  • Anthony Dillof, Professor of Law: Professor Anthony Dillof currently teaches several required first-year courses (Torts, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure) and Appellate Advocacy. In the past, he has taught Civil Rights and Jurisprudence.
  • Christopher Lund, Professor of Law: Christopher C. Lund is a professor of law at Wayne State University Law School, where he teaches a variety of courses, including Torts, Contracts, Constitutional Law, Religious Liberty in the United States and Evidence. Excited to teach students, he has been voted Professor of the Year six times.
  • Meghan Short, Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation: Meghan Short has nearly a decade of experience working in academic support in a law school environment. One of the primary roles of an academic support program is to provide an outlet for formative assessment for law students who may not receive such resources in their doctrinal classes. She works closely with law school faculty and administrators to identify students who may be academically "at risk" and provides opportunities for practice and feedback for students who fall into this category.
  • Michelle Taylor, Assistant Director of Scholarships and Assessment, Law School: Michelle Taylor annually reviews the learning outcomes of the schools JD and LL.M. programs to ensure compliance with the university and the American Bar Association; represents the Law School as a member of the University Assessment Council. Previous experience with assessment includes ESL curriculum development of the state-funded Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program. As a precursor to the current Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope (PATH) program, JET helped newly immigrated men and women transition to life in the United States by providing courses in conversational/business English, job skills and job placement.
  1.  What assistance, if any, do you need from experts in assessment or in other areas to carry out your project and improve your assessment practices or instruments? Examples might include survey, test, or activity design support, statistical analysis, etc.

We will work with university offices that would be beneficial in helping carry out our project: the Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) for effectively using iClickers in the classroom (primarily the formation of questions); C&IT and Law IT to ensure the software installed correctly and ready to use at the beginning of the semester. We will also work with Wayne State University's dedicated iClicker Client Relationship Specialist, Gina Forsythe for support and training.

There are quite a few law schools with the clicker technology available to use in the classroom. By reaching out to other law schools who use iClickers, we may be able to learn more about how they incorporate them for assessment purposes.

Deliverables, Timeline, Responsible Parties:


Responsible party:

Completion date:

Determine which class(es) will be used as the sample cohort for fall 2019

Michelle Taylor, Susan Cancelosi

July 2019

Request Faculty base and sample student clicker from OTL; test s stem.

Michelle Taylor, participating faculty

July 2019

Order iClickers for sample group/order faculty base & clicker

Michelle Taylor, Misbah Islam (Law, C&IT)

July 2019

Meet with participating faculty to train/review iClicker online software and instructor portal

Michelle Taylor,

Gina Forsythe/Kristy Hartman (OTL)

July 2019

Update syllabus regarding iClicker instructions

participating faculty

Summer 2019

Review assessment questions that will be presented in class; Meet with OTL, if necessary, to assist with question formation and to ensure that questions fall in line with both course level and program assessment. Get schedule of when polls will administered during class during a semester.

Michelle Taylor, Susan Cancelosi, participating faculty, Meghan Short

August 2019

Distribute clickers to students first week of IL orientation

Michelle Taylor; Admissions team


Run test on first day of class by taking attendance; review results to ensure all student information is being recorded

Participating faculty; Michelle Taylor


Ask first assessment question/poll in class and send results to Michelle Ta lor

Participating faculty

October 2019

Review first graphs for formative assessment and make adjustments for upcoming polls if needed

Michelle Taylor, Susan Cancelosi, participating faculty

October 2019

Submit mid-point report of progress to university assessment office and share report with law faculty

Michelle Taylor, Susan Cancelosi

February 3, 2020

Demonstration/Discussion of 2019 pilot program: Pros/Cons of using iClickers for formative assessment; Discuss whether to expand pilot to more (or different classes) for 2020-21.

Participating faculty/ All Faculty

March 2020



Set up on-site demonstration and Q&A with OTL's Kristy Hartman and law faculty

OTL, Michelle Taylor

April 2020



Report 2019-20 assessment data

Michelle Taylor, Susan Cancelosi

May 2020

Submit final report to University Assessment Council

Michelle Taylor, Susan Cancelosi

September 2020


Funding Request:

$2579.40 ($42.99 x 60) iClicker2 remote/LED student polling devices

$210.00 ($210 x 1) instructor kit, which includes an iClicker2 base and an instructor remote

Total $2789.40

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