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Institutes & Centers > The Center for Legal Pedagogy

The Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, formally established The Center for Legal Pedagogy as a research institute to study legal education in the fall of 1999. Prior to that time, the faculty members who originally formed the Center had met informally for a number of years to discuss concerns about legal education and matters related to the teaching and learning of law.

The Center for Legal Pedagogy is primarily a research institute that is dedicated to the study of instructional design for legal education. The Center uses principles from the cognitive sciences about learning theory to study, implement, and evaluate law school teaching methodologies. The Center conducts educational and scholarship programs for law school faculty members, and it also presents workshops and instructional programs for law school students. The Center engages in collaborative teaching projects. And, through its research studies and its publications, it offers pedagogical assistance with academic performance and skills by providing information about instructional design and outcomes assessment.

The Center’s Mission

Dedicated to the study of instructional design for legal education, the Center for Legal Pedagogy uses principles from the cognitive sciences about learning and discourse theory to study, implement, and evaluate law school teaching methodologies.

The primary research aim of the Center is to investigate fundamental questions about how legal knowledge becomes organized and how the cognitive processes that accompany legal knowledge develop with learning and experience.

The Center has an inter- and multi-disciplinary focus. It recognizes that we now have many of the investigative tools needed for the advanced study of legal pedagogy. It employs computer-based technologies that have been developed to enhance educational research. And, it uses the cognitive sciences – including the disciplines of cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, and linguistics – to provide legal scholars with the theoretical means for studying formal process theories of human cognition.

Turning to recent advances in the understanding of the nature of competence and the phenomena of expertise, the Center seeks to provide a means for legal scholars to pursue a thorough analysis of the objectives of instruction and to offer a solid basis for studying the learning of law, for designing conditions for learning, and for assessing acquired competence in the law.


Professor Anthony Palasota, Director of the Center for Legal Pedagogy and beloved Legal Writing Instructor, has died at the age of 65, after a brief illness. A native Houstonian, Professor Palasota earned a baccalaureate and master’s degrees from local uni-versities, St. Thomas and he earned his Ph.D. from Rice. Professor Palasota also earned a Master’s in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto.

Professor Palasota worked at Thurgood Marshall School of law for 25 years. Anthony was a true renaissance man, and a true lover of life. Anthony was an art expert, civil liberties advocate, philanthropist, philosopher, scholar, teacher, and teacher of teachers.

Houston-based weekly arts e-journal “Glasstire” stated that “Anthony was a tireless Houston arts supporter. Familiar to everyone as a fixture at Houston openings, for years he religiously put together a weekly email [About Art & Other Events] of art-related happenings in the city. Beginning in June, 2009 with the tweet “Looking for Art,” Palasota logged 1421 messages on art events by February 13, 2012.” Dean Holley noted that “Anthony made all of the contributions identified in the proceeding paragraphs and much more.” We made several national presentations on the art of teaching and academic assessment. He was unfailingly willing to take on and sustain academic initiatives. Professor Palasota was a true believer in the art of the possible, progress by measured steps, and good humor and perspective all along the way. He was a wonderful friend of the law school, its students, alumni, faculty, staff, and a great personal loss. He will be remembered.


For additional information about the Center’s research, programs, and publications, please contact:

Office of The Dean
Thurgood Marshall School of Law
713.313.1076

   
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