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Final Report: LSAC Skills Analysis Law School Task Survey (CT-02-02)
Stephen W. Luebke, Kimberly A. Swygert, Lori D. McLeod, Susan P. Dalessandro, and Louis A. Roussos

Executive Summary

The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) Skills Analysis Survey is a major component of the LSAC Skills Analysis Study, which in turn is an integral part of the Computerized LSAT Research Agenda. The goal of this survey is to identify the skills that are important for success in law school and the relationships among those skills. This information provides validity evidence for the current Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and will guide the development of new item types, item formats, and test specifications for future versions of the LSAT, including possible computerized versions.

The key question the survey sets out to answer is “what academic tasks are fundamental to success in law school courses.” The survey also asks a set of related questions about whether the ratings of the importance of tasks to success in courses varies importantly between subgroups of the respondents, and among courses, law school years, and teaching methods. If certain tasks can be identified that are fundamental to all or most law school courses, the skills involved in those tasks can be inferred to be fundamental to success in law school.

The survey instrument asked law school faculty and students to rate the importance of 57 law school tasks in 14 skill-related categories as “highly important” (given the value 4), “moderately important” (3), “somewhat important” (2), or “not important/not applicable” (1) for one of seven traditional first-year courses or one of six upper-division courses. There were 3,525 respondents from 41 law schools, of which 3,048 identified themselves as law students and 457 as faculty members. The samples of respondents and schools are large and are similar, in terms of geographic, gender and ethnic proportions, to the total populations of law students, faculty, and schools.

For nearly all groups of respondents and for most of the courses surveyed, the categories of tasks fell into four tiers of importance, based on the mean ratings of the tasks and the percentage of respondents rating the tasks highly or moderately important.


Tier I (mean ratings 3.4 to 4.0)
Analyzing Cases or Legal Problems

Tier II (mean ratings 3.0 to 3.3)
Problem Solving
Reasoning
Writing
Reading
Listening
Constructing Arguments
Managing Time

Tier III (mean ratings 2.5 to 2.9)
Communicating Orally
Organizing and Synthesizing
Normative Thinking

Tier IV (mean ratings 1 to 2.4)
Conducting Research
Working as Part of a Group or Interpersonally
Quantitative Reasoning

The survey also asked respondents about how exhaustive the list of 57 tasks was. Over 80% of the respondents indicated that the list either included essentially all of the tasks involved in the course, or included most of them. In general, faculty members considered the list to be more exhaustive than students did.

These results indicate that students and faculty generally judged the most important tasks in most of the law school courses surveyed to involve Reading, Analyzing Cases or Legal Problems, Reasoning, Constructing Arguments, Problem Solving, Time Management, Listening, and Writing. Faculty also judged Normative Thinking tasks to have a similar degree of importance, while students rank them somewhat lower in importance. Organizing and Synthesizing and Communicating Orally tasks were judged less important for law school courses than those above, but were still judged to be of some importance. Conducting Research, Working as Part of a Group or Interpersonally, and Quantitative Reasoning tasks were not judged by the survey respondents as important for success in most law school courses, although they were judged to have importance in some courses.


Final Report: LSAC Skills Analysis Law School Task Survey (CT-02-02)

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