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AbstractThe study of law requires the assimilation of a significant body of knowledge and the application of that knowledge to problem based scenarios. The traditional way of testing that skill is by means of examination. It is recognised that there are limitations to an exambased strategy, favouring students who have the ability to learn and retain information and not always recognising that using resources with understanding is the critical skill. The development of problem solving skills in a legal context is facilitated by interaction and the realisation that there may be more than one interpretation of the law. Opportunities should therefore be given to students to develop their abilities gaining confidence through the process. This is particularly true of Level 1 students who are often unsure of expectations and have an unsophisticated view of the application of legal principles to problems. Problem solving skills can be developed through workshop-based activities. However a role-play or simulation can be particularly appropriate to explore the nature of legal reasoning and argument. Furthermore it is possible to create groups of “advisors” within the student cohort, thus simulating a legal environment in which students interact together and co-operate to produce a legal opinion on a given set of facts. An adversarial approach, notable to the English legal system, can be developed with different groups of students representing the legal position of the “clients” within the simulation who are then required to comment on colleagues’ advice. It is also possible for the scenario to develop through stages by the inclusion of additional consequential facts as the simulation progresses. A simulation described can be achieved through the provision of paper-based materials to students. However the use of the University virtual learning environment (VLE) has several advantages and encourages a more imaginative use of the features available. Notably, communication from tutor and students and between students is simplified. The developing scenario can be posted at fixed times and students can interact on line within their groups. Privacy within groups can be achieved. Student groups can post their advice for tutor marking and feedback can also be provided to students in the same way. Interactive learning is not limited to the classroom.
CitationCELT Learning and Teaching Projects 2003/04
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
DescriptionReport of a CELT project on supporting students through innovation and research