SEMIVIRTUAL SIMULATION METHODOLOGY APPLIED TO A LAW SUBJECT
Universitat Rovira i Virgili (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN09 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Conference name: 1st International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2009
Location: Barcelona ,Spain
Abstract:The present paper analyses our experience of using a simulation methodology in the subject Practicum II which is part of the training for specialization in Business and Contract Law, which is studied during the first semester of the final year of the degree programme in Law at the Faculty of Legal Sciences, Rovira i Virgili University. Specifically, this subject incorporates the integrated application of the knowledge the students have acquired after studying civil, procedural and private international law.
This means that the subject is taught by three different lecturers each belonging to one of these areas of knowledge. As soon as the Practicum II had been assigned to the three lecturers, they met to draw up the teaching plan for the subject, and asked themselves what would be the best teaching methodology for achieving the subject’s learning aims. The experience of other lecturers who had taught this subject in previous years showed that an innovative teaching method would be most appropriate, specifically a simulation methodology.
It was therefore decided to simulate a judicial proceeding. To do so, three cases were designed, each one focusing on different theoretical aspects, but at the same time combining material from civil, procedural and international and interregional law. The students were put into groups of three so that they held a different position in each one: solicitor for the plaintiff and for the defendant or judge. The planning and the timing, as far as possible, were determined by the procedural rules applicable to each proceeding.
In order to give greater realism to the simulation, the papers were presented and registered at the Secretary’s Office of the Department of Private Law, which was asked to collaborate by acting as the Court’s Office. Likewise, each of the preliminary hearings and oral proceedings followed all the prescribed formalities such as, among others, the use of gowns that had been kindly lent by the College of Solicitors of Tarragona. The participants were also recorded, just as they would have been in a real judicial proceeding.
All the materials that would serve as a guide for carrying out the activity, that is, the cases, the roles assigned to each student, the work plan and, in particular, the evaluation criteria were available on the university’s virtual teaching platform.
Each student could ask for a tutorial with each lecturer and for each case to resolve any questions he or she might have regarding the simulation. This option improves the autonomy and personal responsibility that the student should have regarding their own learning, these being precisely the qualities that this kind of teaching methodology encourages. To obtain these tutorials, the students first had to write an email in which they had to indicate briefly the aspects they wished to discuss. The involvement of the lecturers, therefore, was very much reduced to merely accompanying the students rather than helping them to resolve questions regarding the contents of the cases. The reason is that to do so would be to favour a particular student in detriment to another, because the lecturer would be favouring a particular student if he or she were to comment on that student’s papers. For the same reason, although each lecturer corrected a copy of each of the students papers to determine the level of their work and to have a better handle on the subsequent oral proceedings, these corrections were not returned to the students.