Evaluation of the effectiveness of problem based learning as a method of engaging year one law students
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Evaluation of the effectiveness of problem based learning as a method of engaging year one law students

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Slides for the presentation by Joanne Clough (University of Northumbria) and Gillian Smith (Nottingham Trent University) at the Learning in Law Annual Conference 2011.

Slides for the presentation by Joanne Clough (University of Northumbria) and Gillian Smith (Nottingham Trent University) at the Learning in Law Annual Conference 2011.

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Evaluation of the effectiveness of problem based learning as a method of engaging year one law students Evaluation of the effectiveness of problem based learning as a method of engaging year one law students Presentation Transcript

  • An evaluation of the effectiveness of problem based learning as a method of engaging year one law students Joanne Clough Senior Lecturer in Law, Solicitor Northumbria Law School Dr Gillian Smith Lecturer in Psychology Nottingham Trent University
    • "Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing."
    • Elizabeth F. Barkley (2010)
  • The context: Studying law at Northumbria
    • LLB (Ex)
    • MLaw (Ex)
    • Module: English Legal Systems
    • Concerns in relation to Extrinsic motivation
      • Students failed to attend, prepare and/or actively participate in discussion if they did turn up
      • Focus on “passing”
      • Lack of student engagement
  • Moving forward: How to shift motivation from extrinsic to intrinsic
    • Problem:
    • Participation in discussions
    • Penalties for lack of engagement:
    • Poorer understanding
    • Strained conversations
    • Decreasing motivation further
  • Eggert (1999)- How to increase motivation and engagement when subject not immediately interesting
    • Give student responsibility for their work by enlarging the tasks- the student has some ownership and control over their studies
    • Teamwork in which the student group should be allowed to set their own targets and standards, thus the group can self manage
  • What is Problem Based Learning?
  • Six steps in PBL
    • Problem is encountered before any preparation or study.
    • Problem is presented in the same way it would present in reality.
    • Student works with the problem in a way that challenges and evaluates his ability to reason and apply knowledge (appropriate to his level of learning)
    • Required areas of learning are identified while working with the problem and this will guide study.
    • Skills and knowledge acquired by this study are applied back to the problem, to evaluate the effectiveness of learning and to reinforce learning.
    • Learning that has occurred in work with the problem and in individualised study is summarised and integrated into the student’s existing knowledge and skills.
          • Barrows & Tamblyn (1980)
  • Why PBL?
    • Through strong engagement with key issues in legal practice, students can take their learning into productive careers
    • Already tried and tested in Medicine
    • But when should we introduce this for maximum engagement to give maximum opportunity to learn applied skills?
  • The PBL exercise for the module
    • Student participation can be increased by setting out clear expectations of them (Race, 2001).
    • However:
      • Problem must be vague enough to engage students minds in research
      • Problem must directive enough to maintain interest
      • Tutor is “facilitator” rather than provider of knowledge
  • Evaluating the exercise
    • 123 students completed the questionnaire
    • Questions were likert scored
      • Lectures
      • Group work
      • Comparison to other standard seminars
      • Feelings at end of PBL
      • Preference of this as a style of teaching
  • Evidence of increased student engagement
    • Students agreed it increased their skills
    • Increased confidence in:
      • Working in groups (64%)
      • Learning by myself (71%)
      • Independent research (67%)
      • Voicing opinions on law (64%)
      • Speaking in seminars (70%)
  • Positive group work experience
    • Brainstorming enjoyable (69% agreed)
    • Discussing findings enjoyable (59% agreed)
    • Presenting conclusions enjoyable (73% agreed)
  • Overall experience
    • 49% agreed PBL more enjoyable than normal seminars
    • 44% agreed PBL made subject matter more interesting
    • 45% agreed PBL more realistic than normal seminars
    • Agreement that students understood subject matter
  • Should we teach more of the degree in his way?
    • 41% agreed
    • 34% disagreed
    • 25% neutral
  • Delivery of sessions and engagement
    • Enjoyed working without tutor input
      • Mixed response 38.1% Agreed; 30.5% disagreed
    • Preferred more input from the tutor
      • 40.8% agreed; 34.0% disagreed
  • Preparation and engagement
    • Prepared better than for other seminars
      • 42.6% agreed with this
      • Males more likely to agree they prepared better (48.9% vs. 37.8%)
    • Required more preparation than other seminars
      • 67.5% agreed with this
      • Higher agreement for males than females (73.9% vs 62.2%)
      • Higher agreement for prior legal experience (68.1% vs 64.6%)
  • Teacher’s perspectives
    • Take back seat role:
      • Students in charge and they worked hard
    • Brainstorming generally good
      • Group dynamics were interesting
    • Researching
      • Lack of attendance and engagement from wider group (but not for all)
    • Presentations
      • Excellent to more descriptive, but all relevant
    • Follow on
      • Students more willing to speak in class, contribute to sessions, and this travels with them through their degree
  • Reflection
    • Overall successful curriculum development
    • Active learning method with group work and autonomous learning ( Barkley; Eggert) )
    • Assisted with skills development
    • Indicators that PBL increased
    • student motivation
  • Questions/comments welcome!