Tools for the Clinical Professor: Applying Group Development Theory to Collaborative Learning in Law School Mediation Clinics
69 Dispute Resolution Journal 3 (2014)
26 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 29, 2014
This article examines the theory of group development and collaborative learning as applied to the small group law school mediation clinic. In contrast to the large group traditional law school experience, a clinical legal education, composed of smaller groups, embraces collaborative learning that fosters professional and emotional growth among students. Group development often involves four stages: inclusion, control, affection, and termination. By drawing on the author's pedagogical experiences as a clinical law professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School Mediation Clinic, the author applies the four stages of group development to clinical legal education. The article finds that through an understanding and application of group development theory, clinical law school professors, especially ones who teach in small groups, can better support their students' legal and emotional learning. "The concept of group development is quite compelling. The idea that a group is more than the sum of its human parts and that group's move through predictable phases or stages is at once fascinating and a bit threatening."
Keywords: Clinical Teaching, Mediation, Collaborative Learning, Group Development Theory, Legal Pedagogy, Dispute Resolution, Mediation Clinic
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