In response to the an exchange on the DRLE listserv about assessment forms used in negotiation simulations, I provided some forms that I use.  This post includes my post on the listserv with some assessment forms as well as some additional material which you are welcome to use or adapt.

One form is a general assessment form for typical simulations that may go on for 15 minutes to an hour or more.  I have developed variations of this form that include questions about particular topics such as trust, fairness, power, apologies etc.  You can add questions as relevant to particular simulations.

This form is designed to get students to think in terms of the factors described in the framework I developed to be more accurate and precise than the traditional negotiation models in our field’s conventional wisdom.  You can get a sense of this in this blog post, which includes a link to the law review article on which this is based.

I have students do a series of short scenes and here’s the form I usefor that.  The virtue of these short scenes is that I can get them to focus very specifically on a particular issue, whereas in typical simulations, they go all over the place.  I used to do these as fishbowl scenes with selected students in the front of the class.  This was helpful to have an interaction we could all observe and this often produced excellent insights.  However, some students were very embarrassed to be “on stage” in front of their classmates, so I started having students do short scenes in pairs.  I give an instruction and let them at it for as little as 30 seconds and usually no more than two minutes.  This produces good experiences for debriefing without the embarrassment.

Much of my course involves multi-stage simulations with students playing lawyers and clients to give students a much more realistic experience than in typical single-stage simulations.  I have separate forms for lawyers and clients, which is helpful because the lawyers and especially the clients often feel frustrated with each other.

I give students these forms to complete on their own and they do not submit them to me.  I want them to develop the habit of self-assessment for themselves and not just for review by me or for a grade.  I’m sure that some students don’t do that but I encourage them to do so and I explain that this is their loss if they don’t.

Most of the grade is based on three self-assessment papers using the attached instructions.  The purpose of the assignment is for them to recognize challenging situations from the simulations, identify options for dealing with the problems, and analyze advantages and disadvantages of various options.  I explain that in practice, they don’t have time to develop strategies from scratch and it helps to have several strategies in their “toolkits” that they are ready to try, recognizing that no strategy will work every time.

Having them do the “same” assignment three times to provide formative feedback they can use to perform the same type of analysis in the later papers.  It is useful because most of them don’t follow the instructions the first time and they have to get a disappointing grade on the first paper (along with my detailed comments) to get their attention.  The first paper is worth 15% of the grade and the last two papers are worth 30% each (with 25% of the grade for course participation).  By the end of the semester, most of them get the hang of it quite well.

I give detailed feedback on each paper as well as general comments for the entire class.  Here’s the memo I just sent to the class based on the personal injury negotiation described in a recent post.  They had only about 25 minutes to do this simulation and many of them felt they didn’t have enough time to finish, but I want them to learn that they can have valuable learning experiences even in short interactions and even if they don’t reach agreement.  Indeed, as we review the results of each group in class, I applaud the groups that didn’t reach agreement because that can provide useful insights.

The shocking news is that with this system of assignments, I actually enjoy grading.

John Lande is the Isidor Loeb Professor Emeritus and former director of the LLM Program in Dispute Resolution, at the University of Missouri, School of Law. He received his J.D. from Hastings College of Law and Ph.D in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also an avid writer and contributor to Indisputably.org