This workshop was funded as part of one of HEA Social Science’s strategic priorities 2013 – 14 ‘Active and experiential learning in the Social Sciences’.
This blog post was compiled by Becky Huxley-Binns, Nottingham Trent University (Rebecca.firstname.lastname@example.org).
During academic year 2012-2013, senior managers from Nottingham Trent University visited various universities in North America and discovered some innovative teaching and learning practices that they brought back across the pond. So, Nottingham Trent University became the first UK higher education institution to adopt the SCALE UP model. SCALE UP (Student-Centred Active Learning Environment with Upside-down Pedagogies) is an institutional, multi-disciplinary project. The approach is an enquiry-based learning style shown to improve students' conceptual understanding, problem-solving, achievement, attendance and satisfaction.
SCALE UP learning at NTU takes place in two flexible spaces, one at City site and one at Clifton campus, which are technology-rich and furnished specifically to support team working. Each group of three students is provided with a laptop to share, and the rooms have Apple TV and multiple screens allowing students to project and view each other's work. In the law school, we have merged SCALE-UP with flipped and problem based learning in one half-year first year (Legal Method) and two half-year second year modules (Criminal Law and Trusts) and built a town to house them – Lexport. Flipped learning is where the ‘knowledge’ aspects are delivered through a digital platform (such as a video or podcast, or voiced-over PowerPoint available on the VLE) which extends the teacher’s role as facilitator of the students’ learning, so that face to face contact time is spend with the tutor facilitating student centred active collaborative learning. Lexport is a fictitious coastal town, purportedly located in the North East of England, with a daily newspaper, two football teams, various law firms and accountants, schools, local cultural and recreational amenities, a hospital and a whole bunch of criminals. It is not Hull.
The event on the 25 February was designed to promote sharing of good practice across institutions by enabling delegates to visualise the innovative learning space, ‘SCALE UP’, by visiting it and taking part in a law workshop. We also aimed to contribute to the knowledge exchange of innovative learning practices in the context of simulation, experiential learning and problem based learning, and actively use information technology to solve factual problems in a legal setting to embrace student behaviours in an educational setting.
The event started with an introduction to the learning styles (flipped, Lexport, problem-based and SCALED-UP, above) and then the delegates were taken to the City SCALE UP room to do two, one hour learning sessions. In Trusts, they had to navigate themselves through the paperwork associated with the creation of a trust. In Criminal Law they had to determine the charge(s) in an assault/theft/robbery case. For each learning experience, the delegates had started to gain the ‘knowledge’ in advance by watching the YouTube mini lectures or the lecture nuggets on PowerPoint which would give them enough information, and therefore some confidence to tackle the problems. In Criminal Law, they listened to the recording of a police interview (a fictitious story involving members of the notorious ‘Lexport’ Mitchell family of bandits, rogues and villains) to determine the charge they thought the prosecution could bring (and prove). By playing the role of students, the delegates were able to experience the flipped, problem based learning for themselves, and perhaps start to picture how they could develop that learning style at their home institution.
After lunch, the Nottingham Trent hosts (Jo Ann Boylan-Kemp, Pamela Henderson and Becky Huxley-Binns) led a Q and A session sharing the experience of this blended style of learning from the perspectives of the school, the tutors and the students. Representatives from the University were also able to contribute to the experience with an institutional perspective.
Becky, Pamela and Jo are joined by Professor Paul Maharg (of Australian National University and Nottingham Trent) to present a panel discussion “Laminated Learning” at the 9th Global Legal Skills conference in Verona, Italy, in May 2014. This paper, which we are writing for publication, will show how a successful synthesis of theory and practice in legal education can be implemented, including (although not limited to) the SCALE UP model. By harnessing a variety of tried and tested pedagogical initiatives, student learning experiences can be enhanced by the construction of innovative, stronger pedagogical approaches, which appreciably impact upon student motivation and ownership of learning.
How would you turn learning upside down?
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