Chapter 12, 'Ill-structured' Simulations in Two American Law Classes: Labour Law and Administrative Law
Legal Education, Simulation in Theory and Practice, Chapter 12 (2014)
20 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2019
Date Written: January 1, 2014
In Legal Education, Simulation in Theory and Practice (2014) Professor Richard Grimes introduces Roberto Corrada’s chapter, Chapter 12. He explains, “Corrada suggests, perhaps slightly at odds with those who maintain that experiential learning cannot come too soon, that using the Socratic approach to instruction works reasonably well for novice law students in most American law schools. He says that whilst there may be ways to improve learning and teaching in the early stages of legal education, for the most part the more traditional methods appear to deliver what is needed, judging by student and law professor responses. However, he notes that by the time these same students enter the third year of law school, their motivation and energy are mostly gone and that teaching often suffers as a result.
Corrada suggests that as the students’ learning trajectory progresses, more active and collaborative strategies for effective learning are called for. He then demonstrates, in two disparate ‘upper-level’ law classes – labor and administrative law – how simulation can be used to revitalize student engagement. In one of the classes described, students organize a student union to bargain with the professor about the terms and conditions of the class. The benefits of this approach have been documented extensively elsewhere. In the other, the Michael Crichton novel Jurassic Park, serves as a factual platform for the student creation of a ‘biotech’ regulatory scheme. The students work in teams to draft legislation creating various mechanisms to control development and address the scenario that unfolds in the novel as if it were a real-world problem.
In this chapter, it is suggested that the specific active and collaborative learning interventions into the predominant lecture-style teaching models used in upper-level law school courses have met with measurable success. Indeed, Corrada says that research in the education field has shown the promise of such interactive learning methods. Drawing analogies from everyday learning, he suggests that knowledge is contextualized; that is, learners construct knowledge by solving complex problems in situations in which they use cognitive tools, multiple sources of information and other individuals as resources. The success of the educational constructivist model for complex decision making and problem solving makes it easily adaptable to law school, as demonstrated by the simulations discuss in this chapter.”
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