‘Works well with others’ : examining the different types of small group learning approaches and their implications for law student learning outcomes

Laurens, Julian, Steel, Alex, & Huggins, Anna (2013) ‘Works well with others’ : examining the different types of small group learning approaches and their implications for law student learning outcomes. Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers’ Association, 6(1), pp. 101-112.

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In the current regulatory climate, there is increasing expectation that law schools will be able to demonstrate students’ acquisition of learning outcomes regarding collaboration skills. We argue that this is best achieved through a stepped and structured whole-of-curriculum approach to small group learning. ‘Group work’ provides deep learning and opportunities to develop professional skills, but these benefits are not always realised for law students. An issue is that what is meant by ‘group work’ is not always clear, resulting in a learning regime that may not support the attainment of desired outcomes. This paper describes different types of ‘group work', each associated with distinct learning outcomes. It suggests that ‘group work’ as an umbrella term to describe these types is confusing, as it provides little indication to students and teachers of the type of learning that is valued and is expected to take place. ‘Small group learning’ is a preferable general descriptor. Identifying different types of small group learning allows law schools to develop and demonstrate a scaffolded, sequential and incremental approach to fostering law students’ collaboration skills. To support learning and the acquisition of higherorder skills, different types of small group learning are more appropriate at certain stages of the program. This structured approach is consistent with social cognitive theory, which suggests that with the guidance of a supportive teacher, students can develop skills and confidence in one type of activity which then enhances motivation to participate in another.

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ID Code: 81722
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: legal studies, small group learning, law student learning outcomes, HERN
ISSN: 1836-5612
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 22:56
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2015 02:11

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