Teaching Methods

Most of your learning will happen outside of the classroom and independently of me or any other professor. In fact, many professors, (me included) will test you on significantly more than can ever be covered in class. My role is to structure my course in such a way as to facilitate your self-directed learning and to help you excel. I do that through the following: detailed syllabus, assigned readings, problems and classroom instruction.


A. Detailed Syllabus

The syllabus for this course consists of this webpage and connected webpages. The syllabus is an important study tool. It provides you with specific guidelines as to my expectations regarding what you should learn, what skills and understanding I value and how I organize the content of the course. However, the syllabus is not a contract and I retain the right to modify it at my discretion.


B. Assignments

Assignments consist of both readings and films. The assigned reading provides you with the opportunity to obtain rule and process information. It is my expectation that you will be thoroughly familiar with the assignment and completely prepared for class participation.

In general, the class will not cover the reading material directly. Most of your learning is expected to be achieved through reading, discussion and online activities. Of course, If you have questions or comments about the reading you should raise them during the class discussion or you may come to my office.


C. Reflective Learning

What is the role of reflection in the learning process?

Students sometimes view reflective writing as an annoying interruption to the serious business of developing content knowledge in their subject area. However, there are sound reasons why reflective writing is included in student assessment. Reflective writing tasks are given to students to help students learn through reflection, precisely because of the established link between reflection and deeper learning. As well as facilitating learning and monitoring learning, the intention is to produce graduates who have acquired the habit of reflection as a means of continuing to learn and grow in their professions. Reflection can lead to:

personal growth
professional growth
meaningful change.

Reflection can help you to:

better understand your strengths and weaknesses>
identify and question your underlying values and beliefs>
acknowledge and challenge possible assumptions on which you base your ideas, feelings and actions>
recognize areas of potential bias or discrimination>
acknowledge your fears, and>
Identify possible inadequacies or areas for improvement.

Reflection can lead to greater self-awareness, which in turn is a first step to positive change – it is a necessary stage in identifying areas for improvement and growth in both personal and professional contexts. Taking time to reflect can help you identify approaches that have worked well, and in that way reinforce good practice.


D. Classroom Instruction Using Cooperative Learning

The primary teaching technique in this class is cooperative discussion. In this class, cooperative learning will be used to:

teach specific content,
ensure active cognitive processing during class and
provide long-term support and assistance for academic progress.

During the past 90 years more than 600 research studies have been conducted comparing the effectiveness of cooperative, competitive and individualistic efforts. These studies have been conducted by a wide variety of researchers in different decades with different age subjects, in different subject areas and in different settings. More is known about the efficacy of cooperative learning than about the so-called "Socratic method" or lecturing.

From this research you may expect that the more you work in cooperative learning groups the more you will learn, the better you will understand what you are learning, the easier it will be to remember what you learn, and the better you will feel about yourself, the class, and your classmates.


E. Peer and Self Assessment

Peer and self assessment is an essential lawyering skill. Lawyers participate in the assessment process through evaluation and critique of the work of lawyers, judges, paralegals and other. Furthermore, engaging in peer and self-assessment contributes to the development of critical thinking and communication skills. Peer assessment assess some generic skills such as communication and teamwork. Such peer assessment takes a variety of forms, including providing feedback on the written work or oral presentations of their peers. In this course, peer assessment tasks encourage and enable you to develop the skill of critical review. You consider specified assessment criteria distinguish between different levels of achievement, or standards; and, provide specific recommendations on how the critiqued work could be improved.

Essentially, peer assessment develops the skills necessary for effective self-assessment. Self-assessment is fundamental to your learning, including their ability to benefit from the feedback received from others. Using tools and quizzes, you test your own knowledge or skills. You make evaluative judgements about their work.