Apocalypse law? - Sarah King and Emma Flint


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This is a draft of the presentation that will be given at the HEA Social Sciences annual conference - Teaching forward: the future of the Social Sciences.

For further details of the conference: http://bit.ly/1cRDx0p

Bookings open until 19 May 2014 http://bit.ly/1hzCMLR or external.events@heacademy.ac.uk

Imagined world
The Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) published its first report in June 2013. It was the first
comprehensive independent review of legal education and training in England and Wales for 40 years. The
purpose of the LETR was to survey the current state and future requirements of legal services education
and training against a backdrop of unprecedented economic, technological and social change. Those who
provide legal education waited with baited breath for the LETR publication. Whilst it was far from the
radical reforms called for by some, the LETR still represents an ontological shift in terms of the primary
goals of legal education. Post LETR and the Legal Services Act 2007, and as recognised by key academics
(Susskind (2013), legal learning can no longer remain static and must change in the world of liberalization. Legal educators must embrace innovative ways of learning and utilise technology to deliver teaching that is fit for the next generation of lawyers.

Our HEA funded project focuses on the evaluation of the re-design of assessment methods and teaching and learning practice in an undergraduate law module. The re-design involved a shift away from the traditional end of year exam to a portfolio approach where students will evidence their learning journey through the module. The aim is to assess the “process” of learning rather than simply the “product”.
As part of this approach to learning the project aims to ensure that skills of legal research and writing are embedded into teaching practice. Of particular importance is the skill of legal writing in different formats and for different audiences. The project also requires student to reflect on their learning journey in Land Law and evidence this reflection as part of their assessed ePortfolio.

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Apocalypse law? - Sarah King and Emma Flint

  1. 1. HEA Social Science Conference 2014 Apocalypse Law? Sarah King Emma Flint
  2. 2. A Reflective Approach to this Session ….. Adapted from Driscoll J. (1994) Reflective practice for practise. Senior Nurse. Vol.13 Jan/Feb. 47 -50
  3. 3. • Legal Education and Training Review published June 2013; • First comprehensive and independent review of legal education and training for 40 years; • Reflects a changing legal profession and the need for those working in higher education to respond to change and develop law courses that prepare our students for practice. Context
  4. 4. • Evaluation of the re-design of a core module, Land Law, on the LLB programme; • Included review of learning outcomes, learning and teaching activities and assessment; • An aim to move away from traditional end of year exam to a portfolio approach that assesses the learning journey as well as the final “product” The Project - Overview
  5. 5. • A portfolio approach that aims to ensure that legal skills of research and written communication are fully embedded into the curriculum; • A focus on writing in different formats and for different audiences; • The development of professional reflective practice; • An aligned curriculum where professional skills are developed but also assessed. Land Law Re-Design: Approaches
  6. 6. • A new assessment – the ePortfolio with three elements: – A reflective piece – An annotated bibliography – A memorandum of advice to a training supervisor • Assessment criteria that are clearly aligned to learning outcomes and give credit for reflective practice, acting on feedback, using a range of resources to undertake research and critical analysis of the results and apply knowledge acquired to answering a problem question in an appropriate style of writing. Land Law Re-Design: Assessment
  7. 7. The Evaluation • 100 students have responded to questionnaires; • A small, student led, focus group has met; • We are reviewing the results and reflecting on the feedback! • We are also marking them!!
  8. 8. Student Comments With the ePortfolio you have to make sure you work hard all year. It focusses more on your process of getting to your answer rather than whether your answer is right or wrong. It covers a wide range of understanding in the module rather than only focussing on essays. I hate Mahara. I know this is all in our best interests. Not as boring as traditional methods. I would rather be tested. It allows you to be more creative when illustrating progress. These skills are helping to make me a well rounded law student and future lawyer..
  9. 9. Early Findings • 82 out of 100 students thought there were advantages to using the ePortfolio approach over traditional essays and exams; • 95 out of 100 students said they thought that the skills they were developing would be of benefit to their future careers; • 62 out of 100 students thought they might continue to use their ePortfolio as a means of supporting the learning journey into their careers.
  10. 10. Challenges • ‘Buy in’ – Students • Concerns about use of reflection • Lack of engagement – Staff • Workloads • New methods & training – Institution • Progression & retention • Digital Natives? (Prenskey, 2001; 2011)
  11. 11. Where next? • More evaluation and analysis post-results! • Benefits: Students – Developing as a reflective practitioner – Engagement with different forms of writing – Research Skills – Engagement with digital literacies • Benefits: Tutors – Encourage innovation – Provide a toolkit via the online tutorials to evaluate curriculum design and embed new techniques
  12. 12. ePortfolios: 5 top tips 1. Use a reflective model & embed reflective exercises in seminars 2. Initial contact on Mahara 3. Manage student expectations on feedback 4. Staff buy-in/training 5. Use students to promote new technology & embed training within seminar sessions
  13. 13. Want to know more? • HEA blog • Project wiki • eBook emma.flint@bcu.ac.uk @MrsGingerLawyer