Externships have become an increasingly important component of legal education, as law schools seek to increase experiential learning opportunities for students to gain practice skills prior to entering the profession. As externship courses grow and become an integral part of the law school curriculum, externship teachers should implement best practices for assessing their students' learning, including setting learning outcomes for their courses, selecting assessment tools, gathering and analyzing assessment data, and using assessment data to make course adjustments that will improve student learning. This Article provides a primer on the process of course-level assessment and then explains how to apply that process in the specific context of externship courses. It analyzes a variety of learning goals for externships, explores how the typical components of externship courses can be used as assessment tools, and offers sample rubrics that externship teachers may use to evaluate student performance. It also discusses obstacles that law teachers may encounter when implementing assessment measures, and it offers suggestions for overcoming those barriers. The Article concludes by proposing a suggested methodology for grading externships, should teachers wish to incorporate letter grades as part of an assessment regimen.
Kelly S. Terry, Embedding Assessment Principles in Externships, 20 Clinical L. Rev. 467 (2014).