Incorporating a Creative Component in First-Year Law
(2015) The Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 6:2 (SoTL through the Lenses of the Arts and Humanities), Article 8
17 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2017
Date Written: 2015
For some students, law school leads to a perception of legal education as favouring technical proficiency and structural similarity over innovation and creativity, leading to disengagement in learning. To address this, we offered a creative option in two first-year law courses, worth 20% of the grade. Students who chose this option created a diversity of artistic works, including short stories, visual arts, literary criticism, culinary art, music and lyric composition, film, a blog, a video game, and a board game. Some of these works were of startling originality; all engaged in law in unconventional ways.
We assessed the work using a rubric with descriptors relating both to artistic merit and legal knowledge or law studies. Later, we surveyed all 30 students who had submitted a creative project. The survey instrument used both open-ended questions and a set of statements that students rated on a 1-5 Likert scale. When asked to rank whether the project positively contributed to their law school experience, the response was overwhelmingly in agreement. The students said that completing a creative project developed their understanding of property or tort law, the two subjects in which the option was offered; that it helped them to develop practical legal skills; and that, for some, it contributed to a sense of belonging and community, thereby assisting with overcoming some of the alienation associated with law school.
Based on our experience, we enthusiastically encourage other law schools to try offering a creative option to their students, particularly in first year.
Keywords: legal education, law, creativity
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