ADVANCING GRADUATE EMPLOYABILITY THROUGH SIMULATION-BASED LEGAL LEARNING AND TRAINING: THE CASE OF SAUDI ARABIA
Prince Muhammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) (SAUDI ARABIA)
The aim of this study is twofold: First, it provides a cutting-edge conceptual analysis of the design, development, implementation and evaluation of Simulation-Based Legal Learning and Training (SBLLT) for a dual language undergraduate law program within the context of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Second, it reports on a mixed methods empirical research conducted within the same context to measure the extent to which the integration of SBLLT increases graduate employability. The first component of the study shows that, theoretically, SBLLT holds a great potential to the advancement of graduate employability. Yet to date, a critical review of relevant literature indicates that no empirical research exists within the context of the KSA that addresses and assesses the effectiveness of integrating SBLLT on graduate employability. The study addresses this gap in the literature. A mixed methods case study approach with a validating quantitative data model is used to investigate to what extent and in what way – from the perspectives of law students – Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) in the KSA, through the integration of SBLLT into the legal curriculum, prepares its graduates to meet the skill demands of a society that is witnessing a transition from oil-based to knowledge-based economy. In this study, surveys are collected from 60 senior law students to measure their perceptions on the extent to which the development of a set of lifelong learning and lawyering competences and skills, through SBLLT, increases their future employability. The survey includes a few open-ended qualitative questions as add-on items to the quantitative component aiming at identifying important quotes that validate findings from the survey. For the sake of methodological triangulation and to increase the validity of the findings, document analysis of selected course syllabi of the law program at PMU are conducted to identify the extent and the way through which course syllabi emphasize SBLLT activities and assignments that advance graduate employability. The analysis of the syllabi aimed at identifying: the activities, assignments, and modes of teaching, learning, and assessment that enable students to develop employability lifelong learning and lawyering competences and skills within a simulated conceptual framework. The study used the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) to analyse quantitative data and a qualitative data analysis software package (NVivo) to analyse qualitative data. The findings indicate that there is a statistically significant impact of integrating SBLLT on graduate employability. Although, the sample is limited to 60 participants in a limited geographical area in the KSA which could jeopardize the generalizability of the results, the study provides insights, via a methodological triangulation of data collection and interpretation, into the value of integrating simulated activities into the legal education of the case institution as a way for improving student development of lifelong learning and lawyering skills. The findings suggest that, in designing undergraduate legal education, it is essential for higher education decision makers, curriculum designers and educators to emphasize the integration of simulated course activities and assignments into the curriculum. Designing and implementing SBLLT, as such, has a great potential to increase graduate employability.