Skip to main content
Article
‘Works Well With Others’: Examining The Different Types Of Small Group Learning Approaches And Their Implications For Law Student Learning Outcomes
Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association (2013)
  • Julian Laurens, University of New South Wales
  • Alex Steel, University of New South Wales
  • Anna Huggins, University of New South Wales
Abstract
In the current regulatory climate, there is increasing expectation that law schools will be able to demonstrate students’ acquisition of learning outcomes regarding collaboration skills. We argue that this is best achieved through a stepped and structured whole-of-curriculum approach to small group learning. ‘Group work’ provides deep learning and opportunities to develop professional skills, but these benefits are not always realised for law students. An issue is that what is meant by ‘group work’ is not always clear, resulting in a learning regime that may not support the attainment of desired outcomes. This paper describes different types of ‘group work’, each associated with distinct learning outcomes. It suggests that ‘group work’ as an umbrella term to describe these types is confusing, as it provides little indication to students and teachers of the type of learning that is valued and is expected to take place. ‘Small group learning’ is a preferable general descriptor. Identifying different types of small group learning allows law schools to develop and demonstrate a scaffolded, sequential and incremental approach to fostering law students’ collaboration skills. To support learning and the acquisition of higher order skills, different types of small group learning are more appropriate at certain stages of the program. This structured approach is consistent with social cognitive theory, which suggests that with the guidance of a supportive teacher, students can develop skills and confidence in one type of activity which then enhances motivation to participate in another.
Keywords
  • group work,
  • assessment,
  • legal education
Publication Date
2013
Citation Information
Julian Laurens, Alex Steel and Anna Huggins. "‘Works Well With Others’: Examining The Different Types Of Small Group Learning Approaches And Their Implications For Law Student Learning Outcomes" Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association Vol. 6 (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/alex_steel/42/