Staff profiles

Project lead
Dr Natalie Skead
Position
Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching)
School/area
Law
Faculty/area
FABLE
Team members
Tracey Atkins, Dr Renae Barker, Penny Carruthers, Dr Jill Howieson, Asst/Prof Kate Offer

Project outline

This is a project to transform the teaching of critical thinking, analysis and communication skills in Law at UWA, by using a filmed narrative as the basis for law teaching throughout the core 3 year Juris Doctor (JD) program. The project team will create a visual hypothetical fact scenario, drawing on different areas of law. The film will be used as the basis for problem-solving, role-plays, case studies and assessments throughout the degree. It will be developed incrementally and will be tailored for use in the core units of the degree, gradually incorporating different elements of substantive law as well as a range of moral, ethical, professional and personal challenges that commonly arise in legal practice. This will result in an integrated and comprehensive 'capstone experience' across the 3 years of the JD program.

The film will result in a more cohesive and integrated learning experience for students, breaching the traditional silos of 24 separate and often unrelated units. JD students at all year levels will be experiencing the same journey and sharing greater engagement with each other and the JD teachers. This in turn will enhance the sense of belonging and connectedness that the research indicates is so crucial to student wellbeing. Furthermore, the visual representation of factual legal problems via film will facilitate the development of critical thinking, analytical legal problem-solving skills and broader communication skills, skills that are essential for legal practice.

Project findings

The film was created in October 2016 using students and staff from the Law School with the script written with input from the Unit Coordinators of the core units in the JD. It has been shown to all staff and Unit Coordinators of the first year core units of the JD who will be incorporating the film into their teaching as the basis of problem-solving for tutorials and assessments. The project has been a great success on many levels such as increased teamwork and collaboration amongst students and staff. It is anticipated to continue to be a success as the filmed scenario is further used in later year units as the basis for teaching.
The benefits will commence on the first day of semester in the very first class for the incoming JD students in 2017. The first area for discussion will revolve around the film and the issues raised by the film. The film is short; it is very easy to watch and has some humorous aspects. The students will be immediately engaged and apart from its numerous other benefits, the film will act as an icebreaker and stimulate student discussion and participation. Other disciplines could certainly benefit from using filmed scenarios as an interactive basis for teaching.

Disseminations

  • Presented as panel member at the 7th Wave July Conference, UWA, Perth July 2016.
  • Presented at the Teaching & Learning Forum Conference, Curtin University Perth 2016.
  • Featured in the Blackstone (Law Student Society) Onyx Journal - http://www.blackstone.asn.au/the-onyx-journal/

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