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Two birds, one stone: combining student assessment and socio-legal research

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Law Teacher
Issue number1
Volume41
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)1-18
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Assessing students is an essential part of any university law course.
Traditional forms of assessment, predominantly examinations and essay type
coursework, can be an uninspiring experience for students, who
often sit many modules at the same time in a course and who face
similar forms of assessment in their modules, again often at the same
time. The "strategic learner" may well engage more with the idea of
passing the assessment—ticking the boxes for essay writing or exam
technique—than the actual subject matter. The social context of the law,
the views and experiences of the public, may rarely get a look-in in the
learning and assessment process. At the same time marking coursework
can be tedious with little or no benefit to the assessor other than again
ticking the necessary boxes and getting the students, production line
fashion, through the course and qualification. This article examines one
way in which student projects can be harnessed both by the academic,
for socio-legal research, and be used to enhance the student learning
experience. Using recent examples from the authors' own teaching
(assessing) experience it aims to demonstrate how setting projects for law
students can be a valuable form of learning and assessment, and also a
useful and valid tool for the academic researcher exploring socio-legal
issues. The article is somewhat descriptive in approach, deliberately so.
The aims are to introduce some ideas as to how assessment in law
teaching can be made more interesting and more useful for both students
and teachers, and also to explore new ways in which teaching,
assessment and research can feed off each other allowing academics to
maximise the utility of resources. Research funding is increasingly tight,
yet the potential resource of student researchers is somewhat under used.
We would welcome some debate as to how the method described can be
refined.