Class participation as a learning and assessment strategy in law : facilitating students’ engagement, skills development and deep learning

Steel, Alex, Laurens, Julian, & Huggins, Anna (2013) Class participation as a learning and assessment strategy in law : facilitating students’ engagement, skills development and deep learning. University of New South Wales Law Journal, 36(1), pp. 30-55.

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Assessment has widely been described as being ‘at the centre of the student experience’. It would be difficult to conceive of the modern teaching university without it. Assessment is accepted as one of the most important tools that an educator can deploy to influence both what and how students learn. Evidence suggests that how students allocate time and effort to tasks and to developing an understanding of the syllabus is affected by the method of assessment utilised and the weighting it is given. This is particularly significant in law schools where law students may be more preoccupied with achieving high grades in all courses than their counterparts from other disciplines. However, well-designed assessment can be seen as more than this. It can be a vehicle for encouraging students to learn and engage more broadly than with the minimums required to complete the assessment activity. In that sense assessment need not merely ‘drive’ learning, but can instead act as a catalyst for further learning beyond what a student had anticipated. In this article we reconsider the potential roles and benefits in legal education of a form of interactive classroom learning we term assessable class participation (‘ACP’), both as part of a pedagogy grounded in assessment and learning theory, and as a platform for developing broader autonomous approaches to learning amongst students. We also consider some of the barriers students can face in ACP and the ways in which teacher approaches to ACP can positively affect the socio-emotional climates in classrooms and thus reduce those barriers. We argue that the way in which a teacher facilitates ACP is critical to the ability to develop positive emotional and learning outcomes for law students, and for teachers themselves.

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ID Code: 81721
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: legal studies, assessment, law student angagement, assessment design, HERN
ISSN: 0313-0096
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Deposited On: 10 Feb 2015 23:05
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2015 02:12

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