April 11, 2024

RTI International Creates AccessLex-Funded Guide for Online and Hybrid J.D. Program Assessment

Research and Data


West Chester, PA – April 11, 2024 – In response to the expansion of distance learning among ABA-approved law schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, crafted a guide, funded by AccessLex Institute®, to evaluate and assess online and hybrid Juris Doctor (J.D.) programs.

This instructive guide, An Approach to Monitoring and Assessing Online/Hybrid J.D. Programs, offers foundational information and considerations related to effective program evaluation, including an overview of formative and summative assessment, examples of research questions associated with each assessment type, instructions for linking data elements and sources to research questions, and a summary of approaches to data analysis.  

Offering tailored assessment tools expressly for distance learning programs, the guide includes rubrics to evaluate hybrid J.D. program course design and delivery as well as the underlying frameworks that inform those rubrics, including RTI International’s Blended Learning Toolkit. 

"As online and hybrid J.D. programs take root in ABA-approved law schools, and as the earliest cohorts of these programs graduate and take the bar exam, now is the opportune time to reflect on what we can learn from remote delivery of legal education and how best to glean those learnings,” said Tiffane Cochran, Vice President of Research at AccessLex. “RTI’s work in program evaluation is robust and well-respected, and we hope this guide will extend the reach of their expertise to others in the field."

AccessLex Institute commissioned RTI to provide program evaluation services to law schools that received an ABA variance to provide hybrid J.D. programs. From this work, RTI developed this guide to provide an assessment framework for law schools offering hybrid and online J.D. programs. 

"In an ever-changing educational landscape, learning modes are evolving, and being able to evaluate and access changing academic programs is vital to broadening opportunities for students and for student success. At RTI, we analyze policies, programs, interventions, and processes, generating valuable insights and recommendations about implementation, outcomes, and impact," said Nicole Tate, Ph.D., senior evaluator at RTI.

As the landscape of distance learning continues to grow among ABA-approved law schools, this primer on program assessments should serve as a helpful reference for law schools seeking to ensure the effective implementation and long-term success of their hybrid and online J.D. programs and courses. 

View the guide.

About AccessLex Institute®:     

AccessLex Institute is a nonprofit organization committed to helping talented, purpose-driven students find their path from aspiring lawyer to fulfilled professional. In partnership with its nearly 200 member law schools, improving access and positively influencing legal education have been at the heart of the Company’s mission since 1983. Learn more at AccessLex.org.   

About RTI International:

RTI International is an independent, nonprofit research institute dedicated to improving the human condition. Clients rely on us to answer questions that demand an objective and multidisciplinary approach—one that integrates expertise across the social and laboratory sciences, engineering, and international development. We believe in the promise of science, and we are inspired every day to deliver on that promise for the good of people, communities, and businesses around the world. For more information, visit www.rti.org.