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Rebooting Our Approach to Teaching Research: One Writing Programs Leap into the Computer Age

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Document pages: 29 pages

Abstract: In the fall of 2005, Brooklyn Law School s Writing Program significantly changed its approach to legal research instruction and entered a new era. In order to make our research lessons more effective and relevant to our students, we opted for a fully integrated approach in which we emphasized the importance of combining books, fee based legal research sources, and free Internet sources into a comprehensive research strategy. These changes acknowledge the realities of the computer age, the work place, and our students own research experiences which are steeped in the Internet and computers. Eventually, we hope to make our students more discerning consumers of legal research and, ultimately, better analytical thinkers. With this new approach we expect that students will fully embrace all available tools while taking maximum advantage of all that today s computer technology has to offer legal research instruction. In this article, I first describe the growth of computer research technology at Brooklyn, some of the efforts we took to try to engage the students in traditional book research, and why we needed to make this latest change to the way we teach legal research. I then describe the changes we made to our legal research curriculum. My conclusion is that integrated legal instruction which acknowledges the realities of today s technology and computer culture engages our students, enhances our credibility as teachers, and, most importantly, produces willing and capable researchers who will consider all available resources ranging from books, to fee based computer research tools, to the Internet and its vast collection of free resources. Ultimately, we will then be able to focus on what is most important - synthesis and critical analysis of the law - so that students will become better analytical thinkers.

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