How to Better Construct and Grade Exams to Enhance Assessment and Learning

How to Better Construct and Grade Exams to Enhance Assessment and Learning

Date: Thursday, April 15, 2021 3:00 – 4:30 PM EST

Webinar Description:

Many law professors—even those with years of experience—say that constructing and grading exams is the most onerous part of their otherwise wonderful jobs. This webinar will provide many actionable suggestions to help you accomplish these tasks more effectively and efficiently, and with greater fairness. Topics to be addressed include: integrating discussion of exams and test-taking into your teaching, generating ideas for questions, drafting questions, utilizing different question formats, avoiding common pitfalls and mistakes, ensuring fairness in constructing and administering exams, using grading methods that are both fair and efficient, managing expectations of both professor and students, and giving useful feedback.

The presentations will be by Professor Sharmila Murthy, an award-winning teacher and Director of Faculty Scholarship and Research at Suffolk University Law School, and Professor Howard E. Katz of Cleveland State University College of Law, the author of Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching.


Click Here to Watch the Webinar Replay




Timothy J. Duff, J.D., Visiting Assistant Professor of Legal Practice Skills, Suffolk University Law School

Tim Duff is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Legal Practice Skills at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Professor Duff previously taught first-year legal writing, advanced legal writing, and appellate practice at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. He also practiced law for more than 27 years. He has been a Board Certified Specialist in Appellate Law and has been recognized as an Ohio SuperLawyer in Appellate Practice. Professor Duff is actively involved in the national legal-writing community, including AALS’s Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning, and Research, the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), and the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD). He is also the Chair of AALS’s Section on New Law Professors. Professor Duff presents frequently at national and regional conferences on legal writing, teaching methods, experiential education, and litigation.






Sharmila Murthy, J.D., Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Scholarship and Research, Suffolk University Law School

Sharmila L. Murthy is an Associate Professor and Director of Faculty Scholarship and Research at Suffolk University Law School. She teaches and writes on issues of property law, environmental law, international environmental law, poverty, and human rights. She is widely recognized for her scholarship on access to drinking water and sanitation, and, on state and local action on global climate change.

In 2021, Professor Murthy was named the Haub Environmental Law Distinguished Junior Scholar, a national award bestowed by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. In 2020, Professor Murthy received two teaching awards from Suffolk University: the university-wide Faculty Award for Outstanding Teaching, as well as the Innovative Teaching Award from the Center for Teaching and Scholarly Excellence. In 2017, she received the Woman of the Year: Faculty Division from the Suffolk Law Women of Color Law Student Association.

Professor Murthy has held several leadership roles with the American Association of Law Schools. In 2019, she served as Chair of the Environmental Law Section, which received the AALS Section of the Year Award under her direction. In 2018, she was also Chair of the Human Rights Section.

Previously, Professor Murthy was a Visiting Scholar at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she served as the lead investigator for water for the Project on Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development through the Sustainability Science Program. She also co-founded the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Program as a Fellow at Harvard Kennedy Schools Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. In addition, Professor Murthy taught for many years in the Water Diplomacy Workshop. In 2014, Professor Murthy was selected as a finalist for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Professor Murthy began her legal career as a public interest poverty lawyer. She was awarded a Skadden Fellowship to work with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, where she created the Refugee and Immigrant Partnership Program for Legal Empowerment and litigated predatory lending and foreclosure rescue scam cases. For these efforts, she received the New Advocate of the Year award from the Tennessee Alliance of Legal Services. Professor Murthy also litigated complex and class action cases as an associate with Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, where she represented members of the public in mortgage fraud and natural resource cases.

Professor Murthy received her JD from Harvard Law School, her MPA from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and her BS in Natural Resources from Cornell University. She clerked for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She was also a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in India, where she studied the rural microfinance program of the Self-Employed Women’s Association.

Professor Murthy also volunteers with several civic and legal organizations. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Conservation Law Foundation, on the Board of HumanRight2Water,  and on the Board of Justice at Work. She is the Faculty Advisor for the Suffolk Law Chapter of the American Constitution Society (ACS) and previously served as President of the Boston Lawyer ACS Chapter. In addition, she previously served as the President of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the founding President of the Nashville Lawyer ACS Chapter.

Publications: Click here to view a list of publications by Sharmila Murthy, J.D.



Howard E. Katz, J.D., Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Legal Educator-in-Residence

Professor Katz is the co-author of Strategies and Techniques of Law School Teaching, and regularly makes presentations about teaching and curriculum at the AALS annual meeting, the AALS Workshop for New Law Teachers, and elsewhere. He enjoys mentoring newer professors, and serves on the executive committee of the Section on New Law Professors.

Howard helped develop a series of books providing subject matter-specific teaching advice, available free on the Wolters Kluwer faculty resource page. In addition to teaching, he has served as an associate dean or special advisor to the dean at several law schools, held two senior positions in local government, was the Senior Fellow at the American Architectural Foundation, and was a Knight Foundation Fellow in Community Building. For several years he conducted public affairs interviews on a Cleveland radio station. His B.A. is from Case Western Reserve University, his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Publications: Click here to view a list of publications by Howard E. Katz, J.D.

Supplemental Documents: Outline for Exam Construction