Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

News Release

Peer Mentoring - The Faculty Version August 21, 2013
Peer Mentoring - The Faculty Version

This past weekend, the professors became the students when a lively group of more than 65 full-time and adjunct faculty members gathered at Southwestern for a full-day workshop on Excellence in Teaching.

Vice Dean Anahid Gharakhanian, who coordinated the effort, recruited faculty members and recent graduates to lead the sessions. Professors Calnan, Carpenter, Hart, Ramos, Turner and Dean Gharakhanian gave presentations and facilitated discussions on Designing Course and Class Sessions; Pedagogy; and Feedback and Grading, among other topics. Sharing feedback about effective teaching from the students' point of view were Will Jeffrion '11, Jessica King '13, Michael Morse '13, Troy Mueller '12, Helen Park '13, Danielle Pittsenbarger '13, Daniel Selarz '12, Zepur Simonian '13 and Daniel Srourian '12.

"This workshop provided helpful insight as to the techniques that work best in the classroom," Professor Vivien Montz said. "The program was inspiring because it reinforced Southwestern's emphasis on the importance of teaching and its commitment to professional development, which makes it stand out among other law schools."

Professor Priya Gupta also appreciated the opportunity to focus on teaching with colleagues and to hear from former students. "The candid discussions of recent grads about their experiences at Southwestern were illuminating - I really appreciated their enthusiasm in participating and remaining active in the Southwestern community."

The Excellence in Teaching workshop complements the many other efforts and peer mentoring that occur each year at Southwestern, including faculty brownbag discussions, Best Practices in the Classroom presentations, visiting speakers, Open Classrooms week, and other workshops, such as recent discussions led by actors on techniques for improving communication. They also build on small group meetings held each year by faculty teaching similar courses. These programs to advance the teaching mission take into consideration feedback received from the Student Enhancement Committee and the student course evaluations, comments from the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE), and suggestions provided by students attending Dean's Forums.

"Dean Gharakhanian has done a tremendous job of putting together an ambitious program to promote teaching excellence at Southwestern," Dean Austen Parrish said. "Even the most talented educators benefit from constant self-reflection as well as community-wide dialogue on teaching methodology and student assessment. The large number of faculty attending the workshop reflects the strong commitment of Southwestern faculty not only to producing top-notch scholarship and research, but to passionately ensuring the highest quality classroom experience for our students."

Professor Ron Aronovsky, a ten-year veteran of the Southwestern faculty, found that the meeting provided "a wonderful opportunity to share teaching insights as a faculty as well as to discuss different approaches that faculty members employ to design a course, use classroom technology and ensure that we teach in a way that accommodates the learning styles of our students. I left with a number of new ideas that I look forward to trying out this year. The workshop was a nice way to kick off the fall semester."