A number of ELS gurus have blogged about empirical courses offered by law schools. I'd like to raise some issues about teaching ELS in law schools.
1. What are we trying to do? Is the goal to teach statistics to students with no background so that they understand empirical evidence? Or are we trying to go further than that and enable students to produce statistical evidence and/or understand academic ELS? Ideally, the answer would be both, but its hard to do this with one course, and right now one course is the high end for the number of ELS courses offered at any law school. With time, law schools may begin offering ELS sequences with more than one course, which would help solve the problem, but right now any ELS course has to decide what its goal is.
2. How do we get the right people to take the right course? If law schools are only offering one course on ELS, then it seems to make sense for the course to be introductory. One concern with this is that the course may be disproportionately taken by people with prior backgrounds in the subject-- the course will be reteaching stuff that most of the students had heard already, rather than introducing new material to those who would most benefit. Assuming law schools will be reluctant to make statistics mandatory, I 'm not sure what the solution should be.
3. How do we teach ELS? Should it be taught with an ordinary statistics book, or is there something to be said about greater integration of the law into a course. Its easy to say that law should be integrated into the course, and that is certainly the preferred option, but how do we go about doing it? Is there a textbook that does this? When its all said and done, it might be easiest to teach the skills directly.
Any and all comments are greatly encouraged.