Smart Casual: help with getting student engagement, feedback and teaching problem solving

With the semester mid-way through, this might be a good time to mention Smart Casual for those  who don’t already know about the project.

The OLT funded project aims to help sessional staff by providing online professional development around key issues experienced in teaching law students.  Although aimed at new or sessional staff, the modules are useful refreshers for us all.  An initial set of three modules – based on what surveyed sessional staff saw as most pressing – were released last year.

Those modules are: Engagement, Problem Solving and Feedback (all at http://www.lawteachnetwork.org/smartcasual.html).  The site has both desktop/laptop and mobile versions of the modules.  They are designed to be worked through in an hour, but also to allow you to quickly access those sections you find most relevant.  They are supplemented with short video clips of sessional staff sharing their own teaching experiences.

Coming next year will be: Critical Legal Thinking, Reading Law, Communication and Collaboration, Legal Ethics and Wellness in Law.

An article in the UNSW Law Journal explains the background to the first phase of the project, and the issue of law sessional staff training:

And thanks to the Legal Education Associate Deans Network for hosting the modules.

Alex Steel

(disclaimer:  I’m on the project)

Building on Best Practices

IN 2007 two very influential publications on US legal education appeared.  The Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers and  Best Practices of Legal Education.  Best Practices was the product of a six year collaborative effort to describe ways of revising legal education to make students more prepared for practice.  Although it came from a clinical education impetus, it ranges across all issues in the curriculum.

A sequel to Best Practices, Building on Best Practices: Transforming Legal Education in a Changing World has just been published. It is available as an e-book from LexisNexis in the US, but I’ve been unable so far to get past the geo-block that seems to be in place (despite LexisNexis providing the e-book free in the broader interests of legal education).  Despite that setback, all the chapters of the book have been posted to SSRN and so the manuscript can be easily downloaded:

PART ONE BUILDING AN EFFECTIVE LAW SCHOOL: MISSION AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Chapter 1 CREATING AN EFFECTIVE LAW SCHOOL MISSION is available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637068

Chapter 2 ASSURING ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH MISSION: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637100

PART TWO BUILDING A PROGRAM OF INSTRUCTION THAT MEETS THE MISSION

Chapter 3 RETHINKING THE CURRICULUM: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637102

Chapter 4 REVISITING THE CHARACTERISTICS OF EFFECTIVE EDUCATION : http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637490

Chapter 5 IMPLEMENTING EFFECTIVE EDUCATION IN SPECIFIC CONTEXTS: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637495

Chapter 6 TEACHING THE NEWLY ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS, AND VALUES IN A CHANGING WORLD: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637499

PART THREE BUILDING AND MAINTAINING AN EFFECTIVE INSTITUTION

Chapter 7 CREATING AN INSTITUTIONAL CULTURE OF ASSESSMENT: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637541

Chapter 8 TRANSFORMING LEGAL EDUCATION AS AN IMPERATIVE IN TODAY’S WORLD: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2637544

Just the chapter titles alone underscore how influential this book will also be in the current educational climate.  Happy reading!

Alex Steel

Cheating at University

4732885512_9bf97a8838Photo Credit

Justine Rogers

Last week I was asking students in my ethics class to discuss legal values and what ones they’d picked up from law school. They raised a range of things, from compassion to competition. But one student said, “No plagiarising, no cheating, being honest in your work!”. “It’s drummed into us from Day 1”, one added.

I was rather chuffed to hear this, but I am not sure I can or should be too pleased. The research shows that these are problems affecting all Australian universities, though unevenly across them and within the disciplines. Sydney University has just released part 1 of report, ‘an approach to minimising academic misconduct and plagiarism at the University of Sydney. Its focus is detection and prevention. The Report shows that most instances of misconduct were categories of negligence (lack of understanding or carelessness about how to cite and reference). The rest, the active fraud, is where it gets disturbing.

There’s the less-straight-forward (as far as severity of categorisation goes) collusion and recycling, but most of it is outright dishonest plagiarism and ghost writing, or getting someone else to do the work and submitting it as your own. Ghost writing, in particular, is becoming more prevalent and difficult to regulate. Students are taking advantage of sophisticated and therefore hard-to-detect online services, marketed to them, ones like MyMaster. These fraudster strategies affect most directly take-home assessments, but now students are adapting the technology available to cheat in exams. They are using their phones and watches to bring in material, using loo breaks to quickly check the internet, taking photos of confidential papers, and one I hadn’t thought of in my old cheating (paper-based) days:* paying impersonators to come and take the exam on their behalf. Other categories found in the report were fraudulent medical certificates or other bad faith uses of special consideration.

A summary of the Report’s recommendations (produced by the Academic Misconduct and Plagiarism Taskforce, Sydney University, 2015: 2): Continue reading “Cheating at University”

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑