The LSRP is a two-part scientifically developed measure of cognitive ability which targets the core reasoning skills essential for purposeful reflective judgments in legal educational and professional practice settings, and the reasoning habits of mind and professional attributes regarded as essential for legal studies students and practicing professionals. The LSRP is not a test of legal content knowledge. Rather, it addresses reasoning skills, habits of mind and professional interaction styles which support success in the study and practice of law.
Part One of the LSRP: Legal reasoning habits of mind and professional attributes regarded as essential for legal studies students and practicing professionals.
Part 1 uses the familiar “Agree – Disagree” format; and it can be completed comfortably in less than 30 minutes on-line.
Results are reported for each test-taker on all ten habits of mind and personal attributes assessed by Part 1. First the scale is named and described. Then the individual’s score is presented using one of three tags – typically these are “Strongly Manifested,” “Inconsistently Manifested,” or “Not Manifested.” To assist in the interpretation of the results, a further characterization of the general tendencies or preferences of individuals within each category is then displayed.
Legal Reasoning Habits of Minds and Professional Attributes Measured by the LSRP Part 1
Mental focus is the discipline or habit of being diligent, systematic, task-oriented, organized, and clear-headed. A positive score indicates a person who endeavors to stay on task and approach problems and learning in systematic, focused, organized, and timely way. Mental focus is valuable because it directs attention to the duties and responsibilities of the task at hand.
Intellectual integrity is the discipline of striving to be thorough and honest to learn the truth or to reach the best decision possible in a given situation. A person with intellectual integrity has a driving desire to follow reasons and evidence courageously wherever they may lead. Individuals who strongly manifest intellectual integrity value objectivity, evidence-based decision making, and the courageous, fair-minded, and complete pursuit of the best possible knowledge in any given situation
Mental rigor is the discipline to work hard in an effort to analyze, interpret and achieve a deep understanding of complex material. Individuals who strongly manifest mental rigor are willing to engage difficult material and to work hard to analyze complicated situations and problems. They display a desire for learning, and a concern to achieve a deep understanding of events and their causes.
Foresight is the habit of approaching problems with a view toward anticipating consequences and outcomes. A foresightful person values clarity and the accurate interpretation of complex problem situations. Individuals who strongly manifest foresight value getting the problem right, understanding the reasons pro and con, and projecting the likely outcomes of various options.
Cognitive maturity indicates an awareness that there may be multiple potential perspectives on any given situation, problem, proposal or issue. A person who strongly manifests cognitive maturity endeavors to take this into consideration when making important decisions. This person is likely to move forward when an expeditious decision is required, to hold off making a decision if there is time to give the matter fuller consideration, or to reconsider decisions if new evidence emerges.
Professional confidence is the self-assurance felt by newly assigned, enrolled, hired or newly promoted individuals regarding their readiness to handle the stress, competitiveness, vocabulary, workload, instructional or orientation methods, and related complexities associated with their new role. Individuals who strongly manifest professional confidence have a positive sense of efficacy in their professional role.
Communicative confidence measures confidence in oral and written communication and assesses attitudes about technical writing. Individuals who strongly manifest communicative confidence believe that they have the ability to lead groups through the presentation of oral arguments, to read well, and to write effectively about analyses and opinions.
Teamwork describes a style of interacting that may be collaborative, competitive or a mix of both depending on what is called for in a given situation. Teamwork scores fall into three categories: The “Consistent Collaborator” style may be well suited for professional responsibilities requiring diplomacy and compromise, such as interest based negotiation and arbitration. The “Lone Competitor” style may be well suited to highly competitive practice settings including potentially confrontational responsibilities. The “Situational Competitor or Collaborator” is comfortable with collaborative effort and with individual competition as well. This style is most effective when working within a collaborative group charged with competing effectively against other groups.
Expression describes a style of interacting with peers that may be quietly observational, expressively performing, or a mix of both depending on context. Expression scores fall into three categories: The “Quiet Observer” prefers to stay in the background and observe others even in social situations with peers. The “Expressive Performer” tends to be highly demonstrative and expressive, particularly when with their peers. The “Situational Observer or Performer” may present as a quiet observer or as an expressive performer depending on the context. They are comfortable letting others do the talking or, if the occasion demands, being the one who presents information, explanations and analyses.
Directness describes a style of behaving and speaking in relationship to questions or pressure from peers or superiors aimed at seeking their approval, or forthrightly declaring one’s views, or a mix of both depending on the situation. Directness scores fall into three categories: The “Approval Seeker” tends to present to peers, supervisors and others as being highly agreeable, even if he or she must exaggerate positive characteristics and conceal weaknesses to do so. A “Forthright Declarer” prefers to describe matters exactly as he or she sees them, to speak bluntly, occasionally to the point of painful honesty, and to make decisions with little concern for whether or not others would approve or agree. “Situationally Direct” individuals may exhibit forthrightness or may withhold their true opinions depending on the situation.
Part Two of the LSRP is an objective measure of the core reasoning skills essential for purposeful reflective judgments in legal educational and professional practice settings.
Part 2 can be completed in less than 60 minutes on-line.
Success on Part 2 demands the sustained application of thinking skills, focus and effort in an environment free from distractions. The questions on Part 2 present scenarios of varying complexity across a range of topics. Sufficient information is presented to enable the test-taker to reason to the best answer from among the choices provided. High scores indicate the consistently correct application of one’s skills in analysis, inference, evaluation, induction and deduction skills. The Overall Reasoning Skills score and scores on each sub-scale of Part Two of the LSRP are reported as numerical results and as one of the categorical results “Superior,” “Strong,” “Moderate” or “Not Manifested.” Each sub-scale is described on the individual test-taker’s score report.
Reasoning Skills Measured by the LSRP Part 2
Reasoning Skills Overall
Analytical skills are used to identify assumptions, reasons, themes, and the evidence used in making arguments or offering explanations. Analytical skills enable us to consider all the key elements in any given situation, and to determine how those elements relate to one another. People with strong analytical skills notice important patterns and details. People use analysis to gather the most relevant information from spoken language, documents, signs, charts, graphs, and diagrams.
Inference skills enable us to draw conclusions from reasons, evidence, observations, experiences, or our values and beliefs. Using Inference, we can predict the most likely consequences of the options we may be considering. Inference enables us to see the logical consequences of the assumptions we may be making. Sound inferences rely on accurate information. People with strong inference skills draw logical or highly reliable conclusions using all forms of analogical, probabilistic, empirical, and mathematical reasoning.
Evaluative reasoning skills enable us to assess the credibility of sources of information and the claims they make. We use these skills to determine the strength or weakness of arguments. Applying evaluation skills we can judge the quality of analyses, interpretations, explanations, inferences, options, opinions, beliefs, ideas, proposals, and decisions. Strong explanation skills can support high-quality evaluation by providing the evidence, reasons, methods, criteria, or assumptions behind the claims made and the conclusions reached.
Deductive reasoning is rigorously logical and clear cut. Deductive skills are used whenever we determine the precise logical consequences of a given set of rules, conditions, beliefs, values, policies, principles, procedures, or terminology. Deductive reasoning is deciding what to believe or what to do in precisely defined contexts that rely on strict rules and logic. Deductive validity results in a conclusion which absolutely cannot be false, if the assumptions or premises from which we started all are true. Deductive validity leaves no room for uncertainty. That is, unless we decide to change the very meanings of our words or the grammar of our language.
Inductive reasoning relies on estimating likely outcomes. Decision making in contexts of uncertainty relies on inductive reasoning. Inductive decisions can be based on analogies, case studies, prior experience, statistical analyses, simulations, hypotheticals, trusted testimony, and the patterns we may recognize in a set of events, experiences, symptoms or behaviors. Inductive reasoning always leaves open the possibility, however remote, that a highly probable conclusion might be mistaken. Although it does not yield certainty, inductive reasoning can provide a solid basis for confidence in our conclusions and a reasonable basis for action.