Title: Reflective Practice, Well-being, and Social Justice: How to Teach and Assess

Lead Presenter: Brea Lowenberger


  1. Jodi Balsam
  2. Michaela Keet
  3. Susan Brooks

Session Abstract: Among the most common teaching goals of law clinicians across the globe is to help our students develop a nuanced sense of the lawyer’s role in society, especially with regard to justice and injustice as experienced by marginalized communities. The predominant vehicle to “teach” that goal is casework and service to particular clientele. However, parallel teaching of the transcendent skill of Reflective Practice can greatly aid in the development of student well-being, conscience and consciousness of the imperatives of social justice and access to justice The habits of Reflective Practice allow the student to cultivate a personal cycle of observation, inquiry, assessment across a set of values, adjustment, and self-actualization. With repetition, our students become i) more masterful practitioners of law, ii) better attuned to professional values, with a iii) great sense of well-being and resilience. This session intends to explore core elements of Reflective Practice, how to teach it, and how to assess it. We start with the premise that in order to “teach” something productively, one has to know clearly what that “something” is. To that end we will concentrate our work in this session on the end result of teaching Reflective Practice—the assessment stage. That is where we, as teachers, tell our students expressly what we intended and hoped they learned. To set the stage, we will place Reflective Practice in the context of professional education broadly. We will examine the Reflective Practice teaching objectives of professions such as medicine, occupational therapy, and social work and how those objectives are connected to client service, and the equity and justice values of their respective professions. Law has much to learn from other disciplines. Because many clinical educators use Reflective Practice in some form, we will engage in a group-sharing of the key factors the participants identify and value as emblems of authentic durable Reflective Practice. We will invite participants to share their ‘lived experience’ of practical classrooms through a guided discussion that will explore the nexus between Reflective Practice, student well-being, and “access to justice consciousness.” As we drill down, deconstruct, and digest these indicators of reflection, we will also give close examination to model rubrics regarding a key form of reflection, specifically Reflective Writing. Participants will review and evaluate exemplars of student essays against the model rubrics. Through the assessment exercise we will examine the possible social justice goals a clinic might aspire to instill and how those would sync with such a rubric.

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