How do we assess in Clinical Legal Education? A “reflection” about reflective learning


  • José Garcia-Añón



Institutional assessment must be distinguished from the assessment of learning. Traditionally, assessment is reduced to institutional assessment: that is, to give a mark depending on the achievement of knowledge instead of focusing in the student’s learning. However, I propose (to remember) that: 1) (Formative) assessment is part of learning; 2) Reflective learning (and reflective skills) is/are a part of assessment. This implies a process of continuous evaluation instead of summative evaluation, for example, through an exam or a similar procedure. So, I agree with the idea that assessment "is not a measurement problem but an instructional design problem."To clarify what assessment is, we have to discuss several interlinked aspects (validity, reliability and fairness), which are connected to questions that must be answered: When is the assessment considered valid? How do we assess? What do we assess? Some ideas to answer these questions may include the need to provide space (s) and time (s) to reflect on the learning (as a way of learning and as a skill to be acquired), which in turn implies a multiplicity of assessments and/or reflection about learning. This should also include a variety of assessments: self-assessment, peer-assessment, team-assessment, and (external) assessment. And last, but not least: as it is said, reflection should be considered not only a skill but a part of learning. Reflection about learning is an exercise that promotes life-long learning (including that among future lawyers). A reflection about context and experience is the first step for future professional action. The benefits of experiencing autonomy and reflection are the same in a real or in realistic environments. But the experience of responsibility requires a real environment.