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April 22, 2018


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Anthony Gaughan

Great post, Jeff. I too think that Powerpoint and other visual aids are very useful in the classroom, and it's quite helpful to hear how other professors use them.

Anthony Gaughan

Jeff, do you also have the students read and mark up the relevant text in their casebook during class?

In the Prawfsblawg post that you link to, Howard Wasserman explains that one reason why he doesn't use Powerpoint is because he wants the students "to learn to read and highlight or underline or mark-up the text as they go, by having the text right in front of them and being able to work with it."

I do the exact same thing as Howard does, but I also simultaneously put the relevant text on a projector screen.

I use the projector screen to make sure everyone is on the same page (literally and metaphorically!), but for the same reason as Howard, I also want the students to have the text right in front of them during class, so that they mark up their hard copy and really engage with it (and also of course to encourage them to do the same when they are reading for class). I find that presenting the text of the Federal Rule or statute simultaneously in two forms--on the classroom projector screen and in the students' rulebooks or casebooks--really helps students analyze each word and see nuances they might otherwise miss.


Anthony, I don't do much statutory analysis in class these days, but I did put the rules on the screen when I taught PR and Civ Pro years ago. Howard suggests that putting the text on the screen will discourage students from making notes in their books, but I don't think this is a cause for concern. In my experience, as long as you put a minimal amount of material on the slides, using PowerPoint does not detract from students taking their own notes. However, I think Howard would have a point if your slides dissect the text of the rules, especially if you make the slides available to the students. In that case, I think the slides remove the incentive for the students to try to to do the work on their own. As I said in the post, I have to admit that I have made that mistake in the past.

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