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An Evaluation of the Use of On-Line Systems in the Development of IT-Enabled Student Research & Research-Related Skills

PUTTICK, Keith, HARRISON, Christine, TILLSON, Judith and POPE, Alison (2015) An Evaluation of the Use of On-Line Systems in the Development of IT-Enabled Student Research & Research-Related Skills. In: 50 Years of Legal Education: Annual Conference of the Association of Law Teachers (50th Anniversary), 29-31 March 2015, Cardiff, St Davids Convention Centre. (Unpublished)

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The presentation was an opportunity for the SU Law School Research Informed teaching team to update delegates at the Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference - the 50th anniversary conference entitled 50 Years of Law Teaching - about their research. This took the form of an interim report, given that Year 2 results are still not completed. The project is coming to the end of Year 2 of a three year project which is due to end in mid-2016.Further information about the project, the team, and work to date is on the team's blog at
About the Project

Introduction & Project Rationale

As in other academic disciplines, Law lecturers research, write and publish books and journal articles, and produce and present conference papers. As well as adding to the body of knowledge in the discipline, those works are also resources that support students’ teaching and learning – whether in their original form, or when adapted and incorporated into other media including on-line data bases, e-books, and commentaries used to support ‘current awareness’ and provide a learning resource.

The conventional wisdom in Higher Education is that students benefit from being taught by lecturers who are research active in the subjects they teach and who produce publications which are then used as a teaching and learning resource. Such research-informed teaching approaches, and the Research-Teaching nexus, is long-standing, and underpins much of the focus of HEIs’ strategies for developing Scholarship, Enterprise, and Research (SER).

In practice, much of the value of that work is now increasingly delivered or incorporated into more readily accessible on-line systems, apps, and other web-based media which students and practitioners are then able to utilise. However, this is predicated on the assumption, that the necessary skills to make use of IT-enabled sources are sufficiently developed. It also assumes that the lecturers who expect students to make use of such systems, and to develop work-ready skills, are themselves competent users of the systems. Furthermore, it assumes that the programmes they deliver incorporate the kinds of design features, and tasks and assessments, and opportunities in tasks and assessments.

The Project

The project started in 2013, and is due to finish in mid-2016.

Building on earlier project work, and outputs of earlier Enquiring Minds projects (see ‘Enquiring Minds’: the team is evaluating the use of such systems and additional works as a teaching and learning resource. A central research question is whether, and to what extent, a more structured approach to incorporating the use of on-line systems into Law programmes, coupled with improved training, opportunities to deploy skills, and to be assessed effectively, will improve the quality of students’ work, and enhance their research and other skills. Closely linked to the skills agenda, as it relates to the student experience while they are studying, is employability, work readiness, and the need for students to be self-organised learners.

Rather than simply being ‘familiar’ with on-line systems and technologies, the project team believes it is becoming increasingly necessary for students to be able to use systems effectively.

On-Line Systems & Providers

The project team is particularly interested in the systems and tools now available from leading providers like Lexis Nexis (including Lexis Library and Lexis PSL), Pearson (including teaching and learning packages for students such as ‘MyLawChamber’, ‘Virtual Lawyer’), and Thomson-Reuter (which among other things offers Westlaw, Insight, and PLC On-Line, as well as a range of e-books), and Jordans Family On-Line.

The research is being is being informed by the experiences, feedback, and contributions of key stakeholders, including:-
* Level 6 students in a number of pilot modules, including Commercial and Consumer Protection Law, Employment and Equality, and Social Welfare Law and Practice
* LLM and CIPD Employment Law students
* Author lecturers
* Law publishers, including staff and tutor/trainers who have experience of supporting the skills development of staff and students in HEIs like Staffordshire University
* Law practitioners and employers, especially those who make use of on-line systems
◾External examiners, moderators, and those in the Law professional bodies (Bar Standards Board and Solicitors Regulation Authority) who have key responsibilities for the delivery of programmes, quality assurance, and programme approvals
* Quality Assurance Agency
* Higher Education Authority

The project's findings will, it is expected, help to inform the forthcoming revised Quality Assurance Law Benchmark Statement (currently in draft), and forthcoming reviews of the requirements of Law professional bodies.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Faculty: Previous Faculty of Business, Education and Law > Law
Event Title: 50 Years of Legal Education: Annual Conference of the Association of Law Teachers (50th Anniversary)
Event Location: Cardiff, St Davids Convention Centre
Event Dates: 29-31 March 2015
Depositing User: Keith PUTTICK
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2015 11:31
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 13:41

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