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The Research Informed Teaching Project at Staffordshire University 2013-2016: Conference Paper: Enhancing Students’ Skills Development in Contract Law through an Online Simulation (MLX)

TILLSON, Judith and HARRISON, Christina and GOMEZ, Stephen and PUTTICK, Keith and GEORGE, Kerry (2016) The Research Informed Teaching Project at Staffordshire University 2013-2016: Conference Paper: Enhancing Students’ Skills Development in Contract Law through an Online Simulation (MLX). In: Annual Conference of the Association of Law Teachers (20th March 2016) Promoting Collaboration, 20th March 2016, Northumbria University. (Unpublished)

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Description of Session & Abstract. In this session at the Association of Law Teachers (ALT) annual conference 2016, members of the RiT project team and colleagues from Pearson Education, notably Kerry George and Prof. Stephen Gomez - who have been working with the SU RiT team - presented preliminary finding from a collaborative study of the use of a new digital, online learning resource called MyLegalExperience (MLX) to assist student learning in Contract Law. The presentation drew on the work of Judith Tillson, lead researcher for the work being done with Pearson on MLX, and Prof Stephen Gomez. The session started with some background, describing the challenges faced with traditional teaching methods of applying Contract Law to practical advice needs for clients; and then explaining the use of an online system to address these challenges. Emphasis was placed on how collaboration between tutor, student and content provider can be facilitated through technology. As well as a demonstration, questions from delegates were taken by the presenters.
Abstract. The RiT project has been interested in a range of issues since it started in 2013, including the support that Law students get from on-line systems and services which support their research, teaching, and learning, and the application of knowledge. Previous presentations by the team at ALT conferences, including those at Nottingham and Cardiff, have been concerned with the use of on-lines systems and the development and deployment of research and research-related skills, and assessment aspects.
The MLX project focuses on the problems students can have with putting their knowledge into practice, for instance when advising clients about legal matters. The context is that students are requesting more opportunities to practice and to obtain greater feedback, including more individual, personalised comments from tutors. With the increase in student numbers, all these requirements have an impact on tutor workload. New internet technologies have the potential for addressing these issues but lecturers either do not have the time or web skills to produce sophisticated online systems at a standard expected by their students who are used to professional software on the internet.
The RiT project team, notably Judith Tillson, have teamed up with Pearson, the education publishers, to consider these challenges, and to trial MLX. The MLX system provides an online simulation designed to support students’ engagement and skills development in Contract Law across 6 topics. However, only two topics have been used in this particular trial, as it has been managed by Judith.
In each topic, students play a legal advisory role, and complete practical tasks in response to the issues raised by a fictional client. Each topic consists of four scaffolded activities that build up in complexity as students work through them. The activities are:
1. Issue spotting - students answer a series of self-assessed MCQs (multiple choice questions) to identify the legal issues and legal principles from the facts related to Contract Law.
2. Analysing the Law - students fill in the blanks to identify the legal issues and legal principles from the facts.
3. Applying legal advice – this involves a practical task designed to put knowledge into practice by students uploading a piece of work which is then marked by the lecturer who gives feedback to be used to feed forward as assessment for learning as the basis of the fourth activity below.
4. Reflection- model answer and reflective MCQs to compare work completed in activity 3 to the model answer to facilitate self-assessment as a link to self-organised learning.
Judith and the team have been exploring the effectiveness or efficacy of MLX in supporting learning through a simulation in the manner described above. Though we are using a specific learning resource (i.e. MLX) in the study, it is intended that we will establish a pedagogy that can be applied in other contexts.
The project has been run by Judith in a live module in 2015-16 using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods to assess students’ attitudes and perspectives, as well as data analytics to measure student engagement and performance both in MLX and in summative module assignments. Judith has also been using an innovative Twitter approach to charting student attitudes throughout their usage of MLX.
Project Findings. Preliminary findings were provided in the course of the presentation. Further work is being undertaken by Judith and Christine, and it is hoped the results will feature in an article in The Law Teacher in 2017-18 and in other outputs.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty: Faculty of Business, Education and Law > Business
Depositing User: Keith PUTTICK
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2016 12:36
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2016 12:03
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/2905

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