From Confusion to Confidence: Transitioning to Law School
AbstractThis article presents research about the perceptions and experiences of two cohorts of first year students studying law at a large urban Australian university, tracking the factors that made a difference in their journey from confusion to confidence. The research findings indicate that by the end of their first semester, most students are well settled and connected socially, confident they will succeed and largely satisfied with their degree, but that on most indicators, students did not fare as well as first year university students across the sector. Whilst some of these differences may be associated with demographic profiles or hours allocated to work and study, some may also be attributed the challenges these particular students confront when studying law. These outcomes point to the need for sustained and coherent strategies which support first year students to achieve early independence and self-regulation during their study of law. It reflects on these findings to identify ways in which law schools can assist new students to manage the transition to higher education. Specifically it suggests three ways legal educators might promote the successful transition of diverse student cohorts: firstly, foster student capacity to become independent and effective learners in their own disciplinary context; secondly assist first year students to work harder and smarter, and design workloads that are achievable in the real lives that students lead, without compromising quality outcomes; thirdly, provide opportunities that foster good relationships and promote communities of learning.
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