The effervescently smart law professor Eugene Volokh runs the legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. He teaches at UCLA, the school from which he received his B.S. in Math-Computer Science when he was just 15-years-old. (For years he was a successful programmer.) The following 2paragraphs are excerpted from his blog post, “To See Ourselves as Others See Us”, a typical effort by Volokh to increase his students’ understanding and preparation in important, uncommon ways. Here he wants to make sure each student works with at least six peers during a semester:
In their future careers, the students will be evaluated by their peers all the time, whether formally or informally, not just on their work product but also on their work habits, personal interactions, and ability to cooperate productively. Yet many of the students might never have been evaluated this way in the past, and might not have a sense of how they come across to their peers. Indeed, many of the students (especially those who have gone straight through undergrad to law school, and who haven’t worked much before, during, or after) might have little experience with cooperative professional tasks and the behavioral habits needed to make those tasks work.
So I think this could be a great opportunity for students to get an outside view of themselves, and see whether some things they’re doing might be coming across badly in a way that can be improved. I’ll stress to the students that their classmates’ reactions may or may not be fair or accurate — but that in any event, it’s useful to know about these reactions. And, since the class is graded pass-fail, students will recognize that these reactions really are just about providing feedback, and not affecting classmates’ grades.
–Eugene Volokh, “To See Ourselves as Others See Us”