SLS PBL workshop, session 2: Refreshing PBL @ York

by Paul Maharg on 11/05/2017

Post-lunch, Scott Slorach presented two projects.  Project 1: York Pedagogy, a project on programme level outcomes, to be aligned with YLS curriculum refresh.  Scott in interested in Advanced PBL Case Studies: increased complexity of facts, issues and law, and the use of PBL ‘outputs as a stepping stone.  This would be an option as against a normal academic dissertation.  He also wanted to see more personalisation of the curriculum and its assessment, and he wanted to see Year 3 as a more unique flourishing in learning.  The learning cycle:

initial analysis of scenario > develop learning outcomes > interim period .full scenario analysis (in firms) > students submit individual analysis > perspectives and outputs.

The first three above are collaborative, the following two in the cycle are individualised outputs.

Outputs & project proposals – peer review > surgery > peer review of one output > conference: present one output for feedback > submit final versions of all outputs.

I like this model a lot — it’s a compulsory but very flexible .  It builds upon year 1 & 2 PBL cycles, will take around 3 weeks for a cycle and the close attention given to detail is so typical of Scott’s great design work.  He gave us examples of outputs:

  • opinion
  • essay
  • article
  • advice note
  • position paper
  • presentation
  • case analysis
  • annotated contract
  • legal document, eg statement of claim

Project 2 is a Professional Practice Masters, where PBL is developed for Masters level.  There will be a student law firm, max 6, with a single tutor who is facilitator, giving feedback, and a mentor.  There are professional working practices and standards with organised, archived communications.  There is personal development, teamwork and reflection, and support and feedback from the tutor throughout the programme.  In the final term there is an independent learning project on a chosen area of practice.

Scott gave examples of static modules transformed into a transactional model of learning, with the static outcomes embedded into forms of legal action in the world (draft this, do that).  See the model here, with the static modules on the left and the tasks on the right, referenced to the modules by the coloured blobs:

Evidence would be required throughout:

Very impressive projects, and shows the depth of thinking York is undertaking on the subjects.  As Scott said, there’s no reason why the Masters should not be a replacement for the LPC, for it actually goes well beyond it.  Indeed I don’t see why it can’t be tweaked to do much of what SQE Part 2 will (in its current form, which will no doubt undergo further change) ask of candidates, based upon the QLTS model of assessment of skills.

There was a further interactive session that wound up the day.  I have to say I really enjoyed the workshop.  We had a variety of sessions, lots of interesting experiential evidence, lots of research, eg from Herco, and the opportunity to explore the depth and varieties of PBL.  In the wrap-up Scott asked us what we wanted him to take forward from the session, and I said that we all needed an online space to store all the fine resources and approaches we’d discussed in the workshop.  In better times UKCLE provided that function, and there’s been nothing that has remotely stepped into that place.  Now, alas, it’s an archive site.  We argued in LETR for such a space, but the front-line regulators ignored our recommendation (Rec. 25).  As a body of academics, we urgently need to organise ourselves.  Who is interested in joining me?

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