Using Writing to Enhance Student-Directed Learning in Advocacy Writing

Professor Shirley Lung

Professor Shirley Lung uses writing to encourage student-directed learning and collaboration in her first-year lawyering seminar. The major writing assignment for the class, a multi-issue 20-page brief, is structured to help students develop a meta-cognitive approach to the process of legal analysis, case organization, synthesis, and persuasive writing. After class instruction on each major section of the brief, students submitted a working draft on that section for the purpose of group feedback rather than individual feedback. Students were also asked to submit a question that they had from the drafting process that they wished to pose to the rest of the class. In the group feedback session, students exchanged ideas and suggestions about the questions posed by each student; Professor Lung also drew attention to common analytical, structural, advocacy, and writing issues in their working drafts.

After the group feedback session, students could submit a revised working draft for an individual feedback session with Professor Lung. Students were asked to develop an agenda identifying the sections of their revised drafts they wished to discuss and why.

This feedback process gave Professor Lung valuable information about the progress of each student and the class as a whole. Perhaps most importantly, it encouraged students to approach writing as a process of active engagement and planning, self-defined learning agendas, and collaboration.