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E-portfolios within professional legal training


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Slides for the presentation by Patricia McKellar (UKCLE) and Karen Barton (Glasgow Graduate School of Law) at the Higher Education Academy's ePortfolios for the 21st century meeting on 23 April 2008.

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E-portfolios within professional legal training

  1. 1. E-Portfolios within Professional Legal Training Karen Barton, Glasgow Graduate School of Law University of Strathclyde Patricia McKellar, UK Centre for Legal Education, University of Warwick
  2. 2. E-portfolios <ul><li>‘ e-Portfolios … are personal online spaces for students to access services and store work. They will become ever more useful as learners grow up and start moving between different types of learning and different institutions.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Secretary of State for Education and Skills, January 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>‘ we will have to re-engineer the data so that wherever you are in the education system the individual learner can demonstrate to another institution, an employer, or to a parent, what they have done, how they are succeeding and who they are.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Director of DfES Communications Directorate, January 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>Lifelong and personalised learning policy drivers propose that all learners should be able to develop, record, repurpose and transfer a wide range of information about themselves electronically, as they progress through different levels and episodes of learning, training and employment. </li></ul><ul><li>JISC Briefing Paper March 2006 </li></ul>
  3. 3. habits of heart, head, hand… <ul><li>The educator of a professional is training someone to understand in order that they can act, to act in order that they can make a difference in the minds and lives of others- to act in order to serve others with responsibility and with integrity. Lee Schulman </li></ul><ul><li>Signature pedagogies: a mode of teaching identified with preparing people for a particular profession </li></ul><ul><li>What it means to ‘think like a lawyer’ </li></ul>
  4. 4. Reflective Practice – Why? <ul><li>Important to development of professionals because it enable us to learn from experience </li></ul><ul><li>Students need to develop meta-cognitive skills because these skills affect the ability to understand and make sense of experience and are essential to the process of reflection and working in situations of uncertainty </li></ul><ul><li>Reflective practitioners draw on intuition to do what feels right </li></ul><ul><li>Asking students why they behaved or interpreted a situation in a particular way provides useful insights not only into how much and what they understand but also to extent to which they draw on intuition </li></ul>
  5. 5. England & Wales <ul><li>Training Framework Review </li></ul><ul><li>Second consultation: training contract </li></ul><ul><li>Two routes: </li></ul><ul><li>a) traditional </li></ul><ul><li>b) ‘appropriate legal experience’ </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment by portfolio </li></ul>
  6. 6. England & Wales <ul><li>Broad agreement on proposal: </li></ul><ul><li>An assessed period of wbl based on a clearly defined set of competence standards. </li></ul><ul><li>Key concern: </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment to wbl approach: </li></ul><ul><li>SRA’s role is to set & enforce standards </li></ul><ul><li>outcomes based approach </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot wbl Projects </li></ul>
  7. 7. England & Wales <ul><li>WBL standards: </li></ul><ul><li>Application of legal expertise </li></ul><ul><li>Integrity </li></ul><ul><li>Effective communication </li></ul><ul><li>Client handling </li></ul><ul><li>Business awareness </li></ul><ul><li>Work load management </li></ul><ul><li>Working with others </li></ul><ul><li>Self awareness and development </li></ul>
  8. 8. The DeL e-Portfolio Project <ul><li>Objectives of Project </li></ul><ul><li>To discover: </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a place for e-portfolios within legal education, the legal profession and professional qualification?  </li></ul><ul><li>Are there any specific issues about legal education and practice that we need to consider?  </li></ul><ul><li>Do e-portfolios provide an additional dimension to vocational legal education and training that is currently missing, or are they just more work and a passing fad?    </li></ul>
  9. 9. Outputs <ul><li>To develop a model which will allow students to create a personal e-portfolio which will follow them through their undergraduate, post graduate and professional lives to include their training, CPD and any subsequent academic qualifications. </li></ul><ul><li>Sufficiently adaptable design to accommodate law students who seek not only to enter a professional legal career but also those who choose a legally related route or other professional career. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Partners <ul><li>Glasgow Graduate School of Law </li></ul><ul><li>Pilot project; bespoke VLE; p/g </li></ul><ul><li>Oxford Institute of Legal Practice </li></ul><ul><li>e-portfolio application; open source VLE; p/g </li></ul><ul><li>University of Westminster </li></ul><ul><li>new project; proprietary system VLE; u/g </li></ul>
  11. 11. Glasgow Graduate School of Law <ul><li>Diploma in Legal Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Professional Legal Learning </li></ul><ul><li>Students taught in a transactional learning environment </li></ul><ul><li>students engage in year-long collaborative learning in virtual firms on seven substantial projects </li></ul><ul><li>they use f2f meeting (logs), activity logs, personal logs, intranet discussion forums as chat rooms, drafts folders, correspondence folders and style banks </li></ul>
  12. 12. E-portfolio Project at GGSL <ul><li>Introduced e-portfolio for students </li></ul><ul><li>Invited local law firms to participate </li></ul><ul><li>5 agreed to take part in Pilot </li></ul><ul><li>Project running with former students now in partner firms </li></ul>
  13. 18. Early feedback from GGSL project <ul><li>Portfolio specification needs to be clear and simple </li></ul><ul><li>Collection of evidence is problematic </li></ul><ul><li>Give guidance and examples </li></ul><ul><li>Use and train mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Support conversation and peer support </li></ul><ul><li>Use forms and checklists to help avoid ‘empty box syndrome’ </li></ul><ul><li>Regular reviews and feedback are essential </li></ul><ul><li>Allow alternative models and range of assessment tools </li></ul>
  14. 19. Project 2: Oxford Institute of Legal Practice <ul><li>Postgraduate programme </li></ul><ul><li>LPC </li></ul><ul><li>JISC project </li></ul><ul><li>VMAP </li></ul><ul><li>ELGG </li></ul>
  15. 22. Portfolio tools <ul><li>Developed by Goldsmiths College </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Limited pilot using Vmap in terms 1 and 2 06/07 </li></ul><ul><li>Further pilot in term 3 for electives </li></ul><ul><li>Students asked for their views on Vmap and ELGG </li></ul><ul><li>Students expressed a preference for ELGG </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  16. 23. Initial mini-pilot <ul><li>Private acquisitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Commercial area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewing, drafting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Private client </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Non-commercial area </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Will/oath/tax form drafting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interviewing and advising </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing skills </li></ul></ul>
  17. 24. Key issues for pilots <ul><li>Privacy – students choosing levels of access </li></ul><ul><li>Ease of use </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Help functions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Intuitive package </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Portability </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Demonstrating reflective use of the portfolio </li></ul>
  18. 25. Taking the project to the firms <ul><li>Approaching local firms </li></ul><ul><li>Supporting the use of portfolios to minimise extra work for training firms </li></ul><ul><li>Offering portfolio hosting in the future as a service to trainees and firms </li></ul><ul><li>Considering other forms of e-portfolio </li></ul>
  19. 26. Template for reflection <ul><li>Title of the piece of work and subject </li></ul><ul><li>Skills area(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Grade (if applicable) </li></ul><ul><li>What did I learn from this piece of work? </li></ul><ul><li>What would I do differently if I were to do this piece of work now? </li></ul><ul><li>If you received tutor or peer feedback for this piece of work, what comments did you find helpful? If you disagreed with any feedback, what was it and why did you disagree? </li></ul><ul><li>How would you use what you have learnt in this exercise in other areas of your LPC or training contract? </li></ul><ul><li>Any other comments? </li></ul>
  20. 27. Early Student feedback <ul><li>Only 20% had used portfolios in education before </li></ul><ul><li>60% liked the idea, 40% were neutral </li></ul><ul><li>100% thought compiling the portfolio would help them monitor their progress and demonstrate achievement </li></ul><ul><li>100% wanted to control access to their data </li></ul><ul><li>100% agreed that portfolios would be useful in demonstrating outcomes </li></ul><ul><li>Only 20% had used formal reflection before, but 80% agreed it was useful </li></ul>
  21. 28. Student comments <ul><li>“ Reflecting upon one's own work is not something that is done regularly. I enjoyed taking a step back and analysing both the task and my efforts and completing it.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I don't have a great deal of experience with self appraisals in the work context, but I can see scope for portfolios to allow continual self appraisal. This could allow greater development of individuals and sort out issues at an early stage without having to wait until the yearly appraisal. It could also be a less threatening way for employees to be more honest about how they rate their work.” </li></ul>
  22. 29. Reflection <ul><li>“ I don't think I was very good at it. Particularly as at the outset it took me a while to work out what I was actually supposed to be doing. Once the questions were made available, the task seemed considerably easier.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ You don’t need to spend hours on the project, but if you spend a few minutes to evaluate each piece of work you do, you’ll come to understand better the areas that could use improvement.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ I think it is vital that this is linked with tutor feedback, otherwise the task may appear to some as pointless. A few people may do it voluntarily but for the masses to get involved, it may be worth using the same system for all tutor feedback and possibly results.” </li></ul>
  23. 30. What did they say in their reflections? <ul><li>This was quite a challenging piece of work. It was a letter sent to a client outlining their obligations in relation to a property they were considering buying. I enjoyed it because it was challenging. I didn’t allow sufficient time for this piece however and it could have been better, although I did think I covered the main issues. I don’t remember that we had individual feedback on it but the tutor said that everyone in the group covered the main issues, but that we all needed to put more detail in. I felt that this was fair and useful feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>I enjoyed this piece of work and it reinforced my understanding of how different areas of law interact. In this case, there was an overlap with business accounts. We went through the calculations in class and I was able to correct myself on the areas where I went wrong. </li></ul>
  24. 32. Partner Project: University of Westminster <ul><li>Undergraduate law programme </li></ul><ul><li>Blackboard </li></ul><ul><li>E-portfolio tool </li></ul><ul><li>Personal tutoring </li></ul>
  25. 33. Partner Project: University of Westminster: <ul><li>Second semester: </li></ul><ul><li>u/g Work placement module </li></ul><ul><li>Portfolio assessment </li></ul><ul><li>E-portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>Working with employers </li></ul><ul><li>Independent studying supported by workshops and Blackboard </li></ul>
  26. 35. Lessons learned so far… <ul><li>Portfolio specification and purpose needs to be clear and simple </li></ul><ul><li>Collection of evidence can be problematic </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of guidance and examples required </li></ul><ul><li>Consider providing a detailed work-plan </li></ul><ul><li>Tools to support reflection required </li></ul><ul><li>Use forms and checklists to help avoid ‘empty box syndrome’ </li></ul><ul><li>Regular reviews and feedback are essential </li></ul><ul><li>Allow alternative models and range of assessment tools </li></ul><ul><li>Initial aim was too ambitious </li></ul><ul><li>Will be more difficult to engage with the profession </li></ul><ul><li>Start slowly- don’t overwhelm them </li></ul>
  27. 36. Feedback <ul><li>Focus Groups at each Centre </li></ul><ul><li>Students divided into groups </li></ul><ul><li>Questions on flip charts </li></ul><ul><li>Students put answers on ‘post its’ & stuck on flip chart </li></ul><ul><li>Open Discussion </li></ul>
  28. 37. What did you enjoy about doing the e-portfolio? <ul><li>Flexibility, interactivity </li></ul><ul><li>opportunity to express how you feel about your work </li></ul><ul><li>reflecting upon one’s own work is not something that is done regularly </li></ul><ul><li>I enjoyed taking a step back and analysing both the task and my efforts and completing it. </li></ul>
  29. 38. What did you not enjoy? <ul><li>Time consuming and more form filling </li></ul><ul><li>Too much detail to input </li></ul><ul><li>Just another IT system, security aspects, impractical </li></ul><ul><li>Submission was a little tricky </li></ul>
  30. 39. What would have made the process easier for you? <ul><li>More training using the e-portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>More hands on experience </li></ul><ul><li>More direction in form of templates and deadlines </li></ul><ul><li>But: One respondent noted: </li></ul><ul><li>Just the experience of completing the process makes it easier…the first couple of times…it is difficult but…[it] would become easier as you became more familiar with it </li></ul>
  31. 40. What advice would you give another student who is about to start the project? <ul><li>Regular entries were important </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping portfolio up to date was crucial </li></ul><ul><li>Keep up to date, time/plan efficiently, do it little and often, don’t leave it till the last moment </li></ul><ul><li>Think about how you want to structure your final portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>You don’t have to spend hours on the project but spending a few minutes evaluating each piece of work will help you understand areas where it can be improved </li></ul>
  32. 41. What will you take with you into your traineeships/careers? <ul><li>The ability to reflect and the ability to learn from that process </li></ul><ul><li>An ability to analyse work and tasks </li></ul><ul><li>it gave a structure to measure development </li></ul><ul><li>Can accept criticism better </li></ul><ul><li>Have a better idea how to give feedback on problems experienced or seen </li></ul>
  33. 42. What advice would you give employers? <ul><li>It is a less threatening way for employees to be more honest about how they rate their work </li></ul><ul><li>Need time to complete the e-portfolio </li></ul><ul><li>More structure, regular reviews and monitoring </li></ul><ul><li>Provide an introductory training scheme </li></ul>
  34. 44. Contacts <ul><li>Patricia McKellar ( UKCLE) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Karen Barton </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Liz Polding </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Jeanette Nicholas </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>