Tina McKee and Rachel Nir’s trip to the SLS conference, September 201
The SLS conference was at Queen Mary’s University in East London this year. One of the themes was ‘Law in Troubled Times’ and there was a lot of debate about BREXIT understandably. There was even an interactive drama session focussing on legal problem solving, ranging from air pollution to teenagers being sent to prison on the basis of joint enterprise. It was a sight to behold, gaggles of self-conscious legal academics channelling their inner lovies (fortunately no photographic or video evidence remains from that session) in the middle of a massive Victorian octagonal library.
We delivered our paper on ‘The Participation Puzzle: Students, why don’t they come?’. We were exploring why many LLS students don’t attend as well as we want them too, and how that affects their learning and assessment results. Following a 2 year project, conducted with the help of our hard-working and imaginative student research interns, Jonathan Holmes, Declan Kenyon and Iana Morova, we had discovered for instance, that students who attend less than 60% of their classes, normally have to take resits to pass the year. Our findings also suggest that we need to rethink our use of BlackBoard because students are failing to attend because they think that they can learn effectively from the materials online. Student stress levels are far higher than anticipated, with 50% of those who returned surveys saying that they found their studies ‘stressful’. These are issues that we need to tackle directly and we are drawing up plans about how to do this. Part of this will involve talking to students for their input.
Our presentation was well received and generated lots of discussion. Other Law Schools across the sector are also experiencing the same issue with attendance. We’ve been invited to get involved with other Law Schools in joint project work and to visit other Universities to present our findings.