Valuable Learning, Unwelcome Assessment: What LLB and JD Students Really Think About Group Work

Sydney Law Review, Forthcoming

UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2014-40

31 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2014 Last revised: 23 Nov 2014

See all articles by Alex Steel

Alex Steel

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law

Anna Huggins

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law

Julian Laurens

University of New South Wales (UNSW)

Date Written: June 31, 2014

Abstract

This article contributes to current debates about the appropriate role of group work in legal curricula by providing insights into the attitudes of Bachelor of Laws (‘LLB’) and Juris Doctor (‘JD’) students towards such tasks. It begins by reviewing arguments for incorporating group work in legal education, both as a result of the recognition of its educational benefits, and as a response to increasing regulatory expectations regarding student collaboration skills. The article then reports the findings of a UNSW Law School Student Assessment Survey designed to determine how law students perceive group work and its assessment in law. One of the most striking findings is that many of the law students surveyed recognise and appreciate the learning and skills development benefits of group tasks, but are resistant to summative assessment of group work. Moreover, there are marked differences in attitude between LLB and JD students, and across year cohorts within those degrees. These findings suggest that further thought needs to be directed towards the specific purposes underpinning the choice of group work as a pedagogical tool, and assessment that is congruent with those purposes, taking into account the varying needs and experiences of different cohorts of students. The article concludes by considering whether meaningful group work can exist without summative assessment.

Keywords: groupwork, law students, pedagogy, legal education, student survey, collaboration skills

JEL Classification: K10, I21

Suggested Citation

Steel, Alex and Huggins, Anna and Laurens, Julian, Valuable Learning, Unwelcome Assessment: What LLB and JD Students Really Think About Group Work (June 31, 2014). Sydney Law Review, Forthcoming, UNSW Law Research Paper No. 2014-40, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2484379

Alex Steel (Contact Author)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) - Faculty of Law ( email )

Kensington, New South Wales 2052
Australia

Anna Huggins

Queensland University of Technology - Faculty of Law ( email )

Level 4 C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Julian Laurens

University of New South Wales (UNSW) ( email )

Kensington
High St
Sydney, NSW 2052
Australia

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