Myth-Busting: Learning Styles as a Pedagogical Tool

Date: Wednesday, April 12, 2023, 1:00 – 2:00 PM ET

Discussion Description:

What are your students dominant learning styles? Auditory, kinesthetic, visual text, or visual graphic? Does it matter? More importantly, should it change the way we teach?

Since the 1970s, educators have been discussing learning styles and whether educators should recognize them and “teach to” students’ particular learning styles. Teacher training has emphasized learning styles as a way of centering the students’ learning experience in the classroom, especially in K-12 education.

In recent years, as law professors have engaged with more pedagogy-focused scholarship, some have sought to differentiate their instruction based on their students’ perceived learning styles. But current scholarship has discredited learning styles as a useful approach to teaching and learning. Where do we go from here?

This panel will explore learning styles, separating fact from fiction, and examine differentiated instruction, assessing whether and to what extent differentiated instruction should play a role in law school learning environments.

Join this timely and important discussion sponsored by AALS Teaching Methods Section with panelists Prof. Kris Franklin of New York Law School, and Prof. and Assoc. Dean Karen Sneddon of Mercer Law School, and moderators Professors Cindy Thomas Archer, University of California, Irvine Law and Jeff Minneti, Seattle University Law. The Discussion will be hosted on the AALS platform on Wednesday April 12, 2023, at 1:00 pm eastern.

Learning Objectives:

Watch Replay Here


Kris Franklin, Wallace Stevens Professor of Law, Director, Academic Initiatives, Co-Director, Initiative for Excellence in Law Teaching, Co-Advisor, Dispute Resolution Team at New York Law School

Professor Franklin is an expert in legal pedagogy and experiential learning and a national leader in the field of academic preparedness. She is frequently asked to lead workshops for other law faculty, and has served as Chair of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) Sections on Teaching Methods and on Academic Support. She is the founder of the New York Academic Support Workshop series and the Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE). She also co-directs NYLS’s Initiative for Excellence in Law Teaching (IELT).

At NYLS, Professor Franklin teaches Contracts to first-year students and leads the School’s program in Advanced Legal Methods. For upper-level law students, she offers experiential learning courses that include a groundbreaking Family Law in Practice simulation course and a class in Negotiating, Counseling, and Interviewing. Additionally, Professor Franklin established and she supervises NYLS’s award-winning Dispute Resolution Team.

Prior to NYLS, she taught at New York University School of Law, where she also coordinated faculty and worked to develop a critical legal thinking curriculum in its Lawyering Program. Her teaching also draws on her experiences as a staff attorney in the Brooklyn Office of the Legal Aid Society. There, her practice focused on housing and family law, conducting numerous trials, hearings, and appellate arguments while litigating public benefits and immigration cases.

Professor Franklin’s scholarship focuses on the rhetorics of legal decision-making and on legal pedagogy. Her published works often mirror her interests in gender roles, diverse family structures, and sexual identity. Her books include an in-role case file for preparing practice-ready law students, a guide for professors teaching legal reasoning and academic preparedness, and a legal methods case file textbook that has been adopted widely.

A longtime activist—an alumna of direct action organizations such as the Lesbian Avengers and the Women’s Health Action Mobilization—Professor Franklin was a union delegate for the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys (ALAA) and a member of the ALAA Bargaining Committee. She has been active in numerous professional organizations, serving on several committees of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York and Board of Directors of the Pratt Area Community Council.

Karen Sneddon, Interim Dean of the School of Law at Mercer University

Karen Sneddon became interim dean of Mercer University School of Law on October 1, 2021. She previously served as associate dean for faculty research and development and professor of law.

Dean Sneddon joined the Mercer community in 2006. She graduated summa cum laude from Louisiana State University and Tulane Law School. Before becoming a faculty member at the School of Law, she was a Forrester Fellow at Tulane Law School. She has been a visiting professor of law at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and taught a short course in Comparative Succession at ELTE Law, Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, Hungary.

Dean Sneddon is actively engaged in research and scholarship. Her most recent law review article is Dead Men (and Women) Should Tell Tales: Narrative, Intent, and Construction Proceedings, 46 ACTEC Law J. 301 (2021). In 2021, she received the 2020 Teresa G. Phelps Scholarship Award for Legal Communication for Clause A to Clause Z: Narrative Transportation and the Transactional Reader, 71 S.C. L. Rev. 247 (2019) (with Professor Susan M. Chesler, co-author and co-recipient of the award). In addition to authoring law review articles and essays, Dean Sneddon co-authored Moot Court Workbook with Mercer Law Professor Sue Painter-Thorne, Experiencing Trusts & Estates and has also contributed a rewritten judgment to Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Trusts and Estates Opinions. Since 2008, Dean Sneddon has co-authored with Mercer Law Professor David Hricik the regular column “Writing Matters” for the Georgia Bar Journal.

She is an active member of the Legal Writing Institute, Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Southeastern Association of Law Schools.



Cindy Thomas Archer, Professor of Lawyering Skills at The University of California, Irvine School of Law

Cindy Thomas Archer joined UCI Law as a Professor of Lawyering Skills in 2020. Prior to her appointment, she was a Clinical Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Clinical Programs and Experiential Education at LMU Loyola Law School, Los Angeles where she was influential in inaugurating the Loyola Social Justice Law Clinic. Passionate about inclusive excellence in education, Prof. Archer was inaugural director of Loyola’s first generation law student program; chaired not only the law school Equity and Inclusion Committee but was a member of the university President’s Implicit Bias Taskforce and served as developer, facilitator and trainer for the university-wide training programs. In 2018, Prof. Archer was recognized by the Loyola Marymount University CSJ Center for Reconciliation and Justice with a “Hidden Hero Award.” In 2019, she was inducted as an honorary member into Alpha Sigma Nu, the honor society of Jesuit universities, recognizing students and community members who excel in scholarship, loyalty and service, and promote Ignatian values for life.

Prof. Archer’s expertise and experience includes Legal Analysis and Communication; Experiential Education; Civil Litigation Practice; various aspects of the Lawyer-Client Relationship: a Lawyer’s Professional Responsibility and Access to Justice, Client Interviewing and Counseling Skills, and Cultural Humility in Client Representation; Inclusive Excellence in Legal Education. She has been a regular presenter and invited panelist on topics related to experiential education, cultural competence in lawyering skills curriculum, and clinical legal education.

Throughout her career, Prof. Archer has been active in regional and national professional organizations promoting and supporting the work of lawyering skills as a discipline. Prof. Archer has lectured on a variety of professional responsibility topics for local bar associations and served on boards and committees of local affinity bar associations.

Jeffery Minneti, Director, Academic Resource Center and Associate Professor of Law at Seattle University School of Law

Jeff Minneti has directed the Academic Resource Center (ARC) since 2015.The ARC is a team of dedicated academic support professionals whose focus is to equip students with the academic and executive function skills they need to accomplish their personal best in law school and pass the bar exam on their first attempt. As director, Professor Minneti leads the Law School’s Access Admission Program. He teaches Criminal Law to students entering through the Program, and together with the ARC Team, partners with the Access Admission students throughout their law school experience. Professor Minneti also teaches Trusts and Estates and Enhanced Analytical Skills to upper-level students. And he meets individually with students who are academically struggling, students who are seeking to enhance their academic performance, and students who are preparing for the bar exam.

Professor Minneti’s scholarship focuses on two interests: (1) the intersection of behavioral economics and environmental regulation and (2) the study of how students’ preferences, choices, and behaviors affect their academic performance. A common theme across his scholarship is the study of decision making and decision architecture. A recent paper found that law students’ work drive is an effective predictor of their academic performance, which suggests that when students modify their preferences and choices around the work associated with law school, they will improve their academic performance. In 2018, he published an article describing the theoretical framework for SU Law’s Access Admission Program, focusing on how the program is steeped in the neurobiology of learning and student motivation.

Professor Minneti previously taught at Stetson University College of Law in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he directed the school’s academic success program and taught students courses in Trusts and Estates, Remedies, and Survey of Florida Law. Prior to his work at Stetson, Professor Minneti practiced with the Tampa law firm, Murray, Morin, and Herman. His practice focused on defending the interests of London market insurers in the aviation industry. Upon graduation from law school, Professor Minneti clerked for Thomas A. Woodall, an Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. While in law school, Professor Minneti served as Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Trial Advocacy.