The use of Learning journals in legal education as a means of fostering integrative learning through pedagogy and assessment

Kilcommins, Shane (2011) The use of Learning journals in legal education as a means of fostering integrative learning through pedagogy and assessment. [Conference Proceedings]

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Abstract

In the late nineteenth century, Christopher Columbus Langdell, Dean of Harvard Law School, introduced a new pedagogy in law that was designed around Socratic teaching. It involved a case-dialogue method, where students are called upon to recount facts, argue legal principles and explain their reasoning in the lecture hall before an authoritarian lecturer. Rigorous logical reasoning was honed at the expense of other legal skills. The library rather than the courtroom was the appropriate workshop. Social, cultural, moral or political considerations were abandoned in pursuing legal principles. The case method became the ‘signature pedagogy’ of legal education, and is still viewed as important in training students in the basic skills of law.There are however weaknesses in the approach which undermine its epistemological and pedagogical contribution. It cannot account for the interpretive leeways of language, or that facts are elusive and will need to be constructed, or that judges are not asocial or apolitical operators, or that law employs principles and standards that are malleable, and that ruptures in social, economic or cultural conditions require ways of legal thinking which will not be found in previous judicial decisions. Langdellianism does not address such complex, interdisciplinary issues, and consequently students do not have to contend with them.The current research shows how learning journals on an LLM programme in Criminal Justice in the Law Department in UCC facilitated integrative learning in legal education, making it more inclusionary, with greater interdisciplinarity. The course offers students the opportunity to pursue a theoretical inquiry while experiencing the reality of the criminal justice system in practice. Results show that students are stepping beyond the boundaries of doctrinal legal rationality, and insights gained show the use of learning journals must be managed by the entire teaching community on the programme to optimise pedagogical and assessment outcomes.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2015 21:00
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2015 21:44
URI: http://eprints.teachingandlearning.ie/id/eprint/2684

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