Study Finds That Students At Lower-Ranked Law Schools Prefer Online Classes More

A new study found that students from lower-ranked law schools, older students, caregivers, and students in racially underrepresented groups are more receptive to online law school classes than their counterparts at more elite schools.

Thirty-five percent of surveyed students attending law schools ranked 150th or below by U.S. News & World Report said they prefer attending classes online. Only 24% of surveyed students from schools ranked in the top 50 said they prefer online courses, according to a recent report by AccessLex Institute, a nonprofit that advocates for accessibility and affordability in legal education.

Those findings suggest that broadening access to remote classes could make law school more accessible to older students and those with caregiving responsibilities, the authors said.

“If you are thinking about expanding distance education at your institution, consider the fact that not every student is going to be attracted to online courses for the same reasons,” said study co-author Tiffane Cochran, Vice-President of Research at AccessLex.
AccessLex and Gallup first surveyed more than 1,700 law students at 147 schools in the spring of 2021 to gauge their perceptions of online classes, after the pandemic shifted classes online the previous year. They repeated the survey to 820 of the same law students in the spring of 2022 to learn whether their feelings about online learning had changed after faculty and schools had more time to adapt to the new format.
The second survey showed that satisfaction with remote classes improved over time, with 78% rating their program as either good or excellent, up from 57% in the 2021 survey.
The third and final AccessLex remote class study used the earlier data to examine how the online experience differed across student groups. It found that 63% of students taking online courses reported feeling emotionally drained by those classes, compared to 48% of students taking in-person classes.
Significantly lower percentages of students in racially underrepresented groups, caregivers, students over 30, and those at lower-ranked law schools each reported being disappointed by online classes than their counterpart did.
You can read more about the study here.

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