Why Maths Matters in Legal Education.
Louise Taylor, Nottingham Trent University
Louise.Taylor@ntu.ac.uk
April 2014
What is numerical literacy and why is it
missing in legal learning and practice?
• “...an individual’s capacity to identif...
Lack of numeracy skills learning and
teaching on the LLB.
• Numerical literacy at admission:
–2012/13 NLS cohort = 284 stu...
Maths anxiety.
•“Mathematics anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension,
apprehension, and fear about performing math...
Maths avoidance.
• “I know for me, I’m a lawyer because I was bad at science
and math. All lawyers in the room, you know i...
Impact on legal practice.
• LETR identified commercial awareness (incorporating
numeracy) as an area of deficiency in lega...
The challenge:
• To improve numerical literacy in law.
• To tackle maths anxiety.
• To challenge maths avoidance strategie...
The solution? MOOCing the way
to numerical literacy in law:
• 6 week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) aimed at NQF level ...
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Alt numeracy in law presentation

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Presentation used to support my conference paper delivered at the Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference in April 2014.

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  • My aim today is to give you a brief overview of the provisions of the EU Directive as they relate to victims with specific protection needs. But also to demonstrate that the EU Dir improves access to justice for such victims, not only by making the criminal proceeding more accessible and less traumatic, but also by providing an avenue in which to access civil justice when standards of service for such victims have not been adequately met by the state.
  • Buckley:
    “Perhaps one of the reasons that maths anxiety is such a common feeling in the community is that it is acceptable to show anxiety in this area. Even though the link between maths ability and general intelligence is widely endorsed, admitting to personal difficulties with maths, a lack of interest in maths or worry over maths is socially acceptable and considered the norm. On the other hand, if a student admits that they like maths and are good at it that student will often be labelled a ‘nerd’. This contradiction reflects a culture that facilitates the development of maths anxiety in students.”
    QAA subject benchmark statement for law includes requirement that students are given an opportunity within the QLD to demonstrate numeracy.
  • Lyons I. M., and Beilock S. L., (2012). Mathematics Anxiety:
    Separating the Math from the Anxiety, 22 Cerebral Cortex 2102-2110.
    Ashcraft, M. H., (2002). Math Anxiety: Personal, Educational and
    Cognitive Consequences, 11(5) Current Directions in Psychological
    Science 181-185.
    Lyons and Beilock used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain during experiments with maths anxious individuals and non-maths anxious control group and found neurological evidence of anxiety negatively impacting on maths performance prior to completion of a maths task, when students were anticipating the maths task ahead of them. Researchers from this study concluded that it is not the skill level of the maths anxious individual that leads to performance drops but rather their ability to manage their anxiety at this anticipatory stage and devote their attention to a task.
  • Buckley:
    “The other long-term impact of maths anxiety is the development of a negative attitude towards the subject. Anxious individuals will avoid subjects, courses and careers that involve maths. Such avoidance can limit students’ opportunities and career pathways. “
  • Tackle maths anxiety by CBT and offer maths tuition focused at NQF level 4 before entrenched maths avoidance strategies have been developed. May be too late, but at least GCSE maths will have been attained and so mathematics should not be such a remote memory two years on.
  • Lyons and Beilock:
    “Individual differences in how math- anxious individuals recruit cognitive control resources prior to doing math and motivational resources during math performance predict the extent of their math deficits. This work suggests that educational interventions emphasizing control of negative emo- tional responses to math stimuli (rather than merely additional math training) will be most effective in revealing a population of mathematically competent individuals, who might otherwise go undiscovered.”
    “To our knowledge, this work serves as the first evidence from cognitive neuroscience in support of the idea that education interven- tions which emphasize the control of negative emotional responses to math stimuli may reveal a population of potentially numerically competent individuals.”
    Longitudinal study using Short Math Anxiety Rating Scale (Alexander and Martray 1989).
    Why a MOOC?
  • Alt numeracy in law presentation

    1. 1. Why Maths Matters in Legal Education. Louise Taylor, Nottingham Trent University Louise.Taylor@ntu.ac.uk April 2014
    2. 2. What is numerical literacy and why is it missing in legal learning and practice? • “...an individual’s capacity to identify and understand the role that mathematics plays in the world, to make well-founded judgements and to use and engage with mathematics in ways that meet the needs of that individual’s life as a constructive, concerned and reflective citizen.” nationalnumeracy.org.uk • Lack of numeracy skills. • Maths anxiety. • Maths avoidance.
    3. 3. Lack of numeracy skills learning and teaching on the LLB. • Numerical literacy at admission: –2012/13 NLS cohort = 284 students; 69 with no data; 34 with a maths qualification beyond GCSE. • QAA numeracy requirement for QLD – only nominally met. • Pervasive culture of maths anxiety and avoidance within undergraduate legal education prevents continuing numerical skill development.
    4. 4. Maths anxiety. •“Mathematics anxiety is characterized by feelings of tension, apprehension, and fear about performing math and is associated with delayed acquisition of core math and number concepts and poor math competence.” Richardson and Suinn, 1972.
    5. 5. Maths avoidance. • “I know for me, I’m a lawyer because I was bad at science and math. All lawyers in the room, you know it’s true. We can’t add and subtract, so we argue.” Michelle Obama, 2011.
    6. 6. Impact on legal practice. • LETR identified commercial awareness (incorporating numeracy) as an area of deficiency in legal professional knowledge. LETR 2013: 2.74-5. • Impact on legal reasoning: – “Too often our discomfort with numbers means that we fail to challenge, or even recognize, the subjective assessments made in the compilation and presentation of numerical information.” Milot 2013. – “…substantive legal analysis can vary significantly with the numeracy of legal decision makers.” Rowell and Bregant 2013.
    7. 7. The challenge: • To improve numerical literacy in law. • To tackle maths anxiety. • To challenge maths avoidance strategies. • To spark a cultural revolution within the student cohort, the academy and the profession. • To avoid detracting from the substantive undergraduate law subjects.
    8. 8. The solution? MOOCing the way to numerical literacy in law: • 6 week MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) aimed at NQF level 4 law students. • Incorporating maths tuition and cognitive behavioural therapy within an online virtual legal environment. • Retained as an open-access online resource. • Available for adoption and adaptation for use by other law schools and within other disciplines. • With potential for development as a resource aimed at legal professionals.

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