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The value of using education research to enhance the curriculum in legal education

Brooman, S (2019) The value of using education research to enhance the curriculum in legal education. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Abstract

Abstract This submission for PhD brings together five publications that illustrate how my work has had an impact on legal education at Liverpool John Moores University, and further impact on the external higher education landscape. It demonstrates how extrinsic evidence and action research methods were used to develop aspects of the curriculum and overall academic experience of law students. The impact of these innovations was analysed with qualitative and quantitative education research methods, which are rarely used in legal education. The development of this research is traced from 2001 and details how it grew from a desire to improve the law student experience, into a body of education research that has had impact both in law and other higher education disciplines. The articles in this submission are published in high quality higher education journals, an achievement which is still relatively unusual in legal education. Four of the five are published in journals ranked in the top twenty for higher education research by Googlescholar and academics (Tight, 2017). They form a coherent body of education research with demonstrable results for legal education and beyond. The first indication of impact is that, together, these publications have been cited 180 times. The original findings in these publications are discussed such as the discovery that self-awareness literature and diary-keeping can help students in their transition to university. Other discoveries include findings that: reflective practice has intrinsic value in higher education regardless of whether students become ‘good’ reflectors; the importance of a long transition process rather than a traditional induction process and; the benefits of student voice and participatory action research for legal and other higher education disciplines. This submission discusses how this body of research has impacted on students, law staff at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), colleagues in other disciplines and outside LJMU. The impact of these innovations in bringing reflective practice, self-awareness literature, and the use of diaries to legal education for the purposes of helping to improve retention rates and student performance is demonstrated (Publications 1 and 2). Analysis was undertaken using qualitative education research techniques, particularly the use of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), which is uncommon in legal education. Publication 3 highlights the value of a longer transition process and the value of quantitative education research techniques in legal education. Publications 4 and 5 take legal education development into the emerging area of student voice by employing participatory action research with students. This type of research is also rare in legal education. The potential of this approach to gathering data, analysis and publication, which might influence on-going conversations about the development of legal education, including testing learning environments that prepare students for the Solicitor’s Qualifying Examination is discussed. The methodological reasoning for using the chosen methods of research is also discussed, as is the general need to test innovations in law curricula. In summary, these publications illustrate the use of education research methodology and methods that are seldom employed in legal education. The sustainability of this approach, the value of communicating with students and potential further research that could be informed by these publications is deliberated. A final conclusion drawn is that there should be more engagement from legal scholars with the external education research community.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Education Research; Legal Education; Qualitative research; Quantitative research
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Divisions: School of Law
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2019 10:43
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2019 10:43
DOI or Identification number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00010827
Supervisors: Carey, P
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10827

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