#HERDSA2015 – 9 July 2015

I’ve Storified tweets from the final day of the annual conference for the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Melbourne, 9 July 2015:

New Role for Kristoffer Greaves starts in June 2015

Deakin2EFPIThings have been a bit quiet on this blog over the last few months while I worked through the final phase of my PhD candidature. Now I have two items of news regarding my research and a new professional role.

I completed and submitted my PhD thesis for examination on 31 March 2015. Examination usually takes some months and often involves amendments to the thesis. Followers of this blog might recall my research investigated Australian practical legal training practitioners’ engagements with scholarship of teaching and learning. The study produced a number of interesting findings that I hope to share, subject to the thesis passing examination.

My other news concerns a new professional role starting in June 2015. Earlier this week I accepted a position as Lecturer in Professional Education at Charles Sturt University’s Education for Practice Institute in Sydney (EFPI). This represents an advance for my work in the theory and practice of professional education and training. It is an opportunity to work with internationally recognised leaders, including Professor Joy Higgs and Associate Professor Franziska Trede, in the areas of professional education, practice-based education, and workplace-based learning, .

What does this mean for PleagleTrainer Blog? I will continue to study and write about teaching and learning in professional legal education and practical legal training. Naturally, the blog will begin to include insights gleaned during my new role at EFPI, and I look forward to sharing those with you in future.


My PhD candidature report card 2014

1416804548-kris-greaves211114It was a good year for my PhD candidature. I have learned a lot, and met dozens of interesting people online and through national and international conferences.

Here is my report card for 2014, with reference to my thesis, journal articles, conference presentations, awards, social media (status are cumulative) and other activities…

PhD Thesis

I am approaching the end-stage with my PhD Thesis, ‘Australian PLT Practitioners’ Engagements with Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’. The document is at near-final draft with 100,000 words written across twelve chapters and includes 40 figures. Proofing and editing continues, and subject to the comments of my supervisory panel, I anticipate I will notify my intention to submit the thesis for examination sometime before 30 March 2015.

Journal Articles

Greaves, K 2014, ‘Is Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Practical Legal Training a Professional Responsibility?’, The Law Teacher, forthcoming.

Greaves, K 2014, ‘Re-Imagining Practical Legal Training Practitioners – Soldiers for ‘Vocationalism’, or Double Agents?’, Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, vol. 7, no. 1/2, p. forthcoming.

Conference Presentations

Greaves, K 2014, ‘Conceptualising PLT Practice as a Community of Learning through Practice Research’, paper presented to Australasian Professional Legal Education Council Annual Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, November 2014.

Greaves, K 2014, ‘The Forks of Law: Structure and Agency in Australian Post-Graduate Pre- Admission Practical Legal Training’, paper presented to British Sociological Association Annual Conference – Changing Society, University of Leeds, UK, April 2014.

Greaves, K 2014, ‘‘O Where Are You Going? O Do You Imagine?’ Reproduction and Response – A Reflexive Sociology of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Practical Legal Training’, paper presented to Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference – Responding to Change, Leeds, UK, April 2014.

Greaves, K 2014, ‘Professional Turns: The Juridical Field, Australian Practical Legal Training Practitioners, and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning’, paper presented to ISSOTL14, Quebec City, Canada, October 2014.

Awards etc

Stan Marsh Bursary – Association of Law Teachers – Leeds, England, April 2014.

ISSOTL Award for Best Student Conference Verbal Presentation – International Society for Scholarship of Teaching and Learning – Quebec, Canada, October 2014.

Print Media

Whiteley, Claire, ‘Innovative Train of Thought’, Geelong Advertiser (Geelong, Australia), 21 November 2014.

Social Media (to date)

Academia.edu – Anon 2014, Kristoffer Greaves | Deakin University – Academia.edu, Academia.edu, retrieved 31 December 2014, KristofferGreaves> – 39 items, 463 views.

figshare – Anon 2014, figshare.com/authors/Kristoffer_Greaves/606543, figshare Digital Science, retrieved 31 December 2014, <http://figshare.com/authors/Kristoffer_Greaves/606543> – 42 items, 445 views.

PleagleTrainer Blog – Greaves, K 2014, PleagleTrainer Blog, Kristoffer Greaves, retrieved 31 December 2014, – 19,962 unique page views.

ResearchGate – Anon 2014, researchgate.net/profile/Kristoffer_Greaves/contributions, ResearchGate GmbH, retrieved 31 December 2014, – 23 items, 653 views.

SlideShare – Greaves, K 2014, My Presentations, Kristoffer Greaves, retrieved 31 December 2014, – 17 items, 17,823 views.

Social Science Research Network – Anon 2014, Greaves, Kristoffer Scholarly Papers, retrieved 31 December 2014, <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=1850376> – 7 items, 3,501 views.

Twitter (PleagleTrainer) – Greaves, K 2014, PleagleTrainer, retrieved 31 December 2014, <https://twitter.com/PleagleTrainer> – 987 followers, 100,987 impressions since 4 December 2013.

YouTube – Greaves, K 2014, kglawyer Channel, retrieved 31 December 2014, < https://www.youtube.com/user/kglawyer> – 38 items, 4,723 views.

Other Activities

Presenter – ‘Working with NVivo’ – Methodology on Fridays – Deakin University, Waurn Ponds – 7 March 2014.

Presenter – ‘Advanced Techniques with NVivo’ – Deakin University Warrnambool Collective – Warrnambool, 21 June 2014.

Presenter – HDR Workshop on NVivo – Deakin University Burwood Campus – 19 August 2014.

Presenter – HDR Workshop on NVivo – Deakin University City Prime – 20 August 2014.

Independent Consultant: Invited to independently consult to the Australasian Professional Legal Education Council (APLEC) to rejuvenate their website and institute a digital research repository for scholarship of teaching and learning – November 2014 (details to be confirmed).

Consulting Editor: Joined editorial committee of the Legal Education Review as consulting editor – December 2014.

Peer reviewer: the Alternative Law Journal (AltJ), Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association (JALTA), Legal Education Review, and the Tasmanian Law Review – 2013 to 2014.

Participant: the Warrnambool Collective, Deakin University, Warrnambool – 2013 to 2015.

Curator: Social Media in Legal Education Blog – since July 2014.

Curator: LinkedIn Group – Practical Legal Training Educators Australasia – since 2012.


#APLEC2014 – Impressions from Day Two

Gift to presenters at #APLEC2014
Gift to presenters at #APLEC2014

The second day of the Australasian Professional Legal Education Council conference on 15 November (Auckland)  was a half-day with a keynote followed by two sessions of parallel streams. This was consistent with recent conferences, but I believe a case can be made for two full days given the increasing number of good quality presentations.

Regrettably I missed the first keynote because a fire alarm incident at my hotel.  This was a pity because I was looking forward to the presentation by Leah de Wijze,  a Senior Educational Designer (Open Polytechnic, New Zealand
). Leah has a background in international education, and her leadership role involves responsibility for design and development of materials for open and flexible learning for professions and vocations. What follows is extracted from Leah’s slides – kindly shared with the conference. Leah spoke to ‘Do Distance Students Experience Community? {And does it even matter?’ Leah’s discussion touched on the concepts of gemeinshaft (community – ‘group has priority’) and gessellschat (society – ‘individual has priority’) – I note these concepts are also of interest in sociology of law – e.g.  Tomasic (1983). I am interested to see Leah drew on the Community of Inquiry framework – which models ‘educational experience’ as an intersection between social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence – Garrison & Archer (2007) is a good introduction to the COI framework. I think the COI framework is a useful approach in the flexible, online and distance education contexts and have discussed this elsewhere (Greaves & Lynch 2012). Leah notes there are ‘different audiences with different orientations’ and in that context we should aim for ‘different types of learning communities’ involving ‘different levels of interaction’. As to this last point – I tend to think of this in linguistic terms, where the concept of multiplexity recognises that people might connect or relate to each other in a multitude of ways – for example, they might share physical proximity, philosophical propinquity, or speak in different registers depending on the role they’re playing at a given time or in a given context. I am especially sorry to miss Leah’s discussion of heuristics and theory as ‘help or hindrance’, because I think this dynamic is especially relevant in practical legal training and scholarship of teaching and learning.  I am also intrigued by the penultimate slide in Leah’s presentation, ‘It’s all about T.R.U.S.T – teach; reward; unconditionally support; short bursts of information; and trustworthiness.’ Hopefully Leah will share the presentation more widely via SlideShare or similar.

The first parallel session I attended was a presentation by Katherine Mulcahy and Eleny Tzioumis (leaders in program development at College of Law NSW). Katherine and Eleny spoke to ‘Preparing New Lawyers to Use Knowledge Resources. What is the value of content in the PLT curriculum?‘ – which involved a fascinating review of one institution’s approach to PLT instructional design and content since the 1970s. This necessarily encompassed the evolution of technology used to deliver content, e.g. the use of practice papers as loose sheets in manila folders,  ring binders, text books, CD-Rom materials, online materials, e-Books and paperbacks, etc.  The technological evolution is contextualised by factors such as the dominant teaching and learning paradigm, the complexity and costs associated with certain media, and student satisfaction and practices. It was interesting to hear that student uptake of e-books was not as widespread as anticipated, and that many students continue to prefer the hands-on convenience of print materials, with many referring back to those materials during the early years of post-admission practice. I know that was true for me – I recall retaining my binders of Leo Cussen materials for the first 2-3 years of practice. One of the main themes I took away from Katherine and Eleny’s presentation is how the production, format, and delivery of learning content is a BIG task complicated by so many considerations, and doing it well takes insight, expertise underscored by research.

For the second parallel session I attended Morton Herschderfer (College of Law South Australia) and Shelley Dunstone’s (Legal Circles) presentation on ‘Collaborative Teaching (2 teachers in the classroom)‘. This was a thoughtful and well-research presentation involving historical context, recent developments, and case studies about collaborative- or team-teaching. The historical context and recent developments section was well-researched (I took copious notes!) with several useful citations and quotations – I really hope they advance this work to publication so it can be shared with the PLT and legal education community. Unfortunately this meant there was not as much time spent on the case studies – based on Morton and Shelley’s experiences of being teamed to teach together without previous experience of doing so. There was some great anecdotal material and two or three short role plays in which they described different approaches to planning and performing face-to-face PLT work, and the use of post-teaching events to debrief and reflect on their processes. The main take-home message for me was Morton’s description of Shelley constructively confronting his autonomous and loosely structured style, and pushing him to give an account of his assumptions and practices. Morton credits this process with improving his teaching work. I think that in legal education so many of us prefer to work independently but there are real advantages in taking time to collaborate with others. Good presentation and work that deserves to be advanced further.

That completed the sessions for this year’s APLEC annual conference – and there were many I wish I could have attended but for the ‘tyranny’ of the parallel session!

Finally Lewis Patrick, current chair of APLEC wrapped up the proceedings. I agree with Lewis that the standard of presentations is constantly improving and lengthening the conference to two full days is warranted. Lewis also indicated that APLEC will be commissioning research about a number of issues of concern in the near future. Lewis also announced my agreement to consult to APLEC  about establishing a research repository as part of a refreshed APLEC website – subject to details yet to be worked out. I left this conference buoyed by the presenters’ energy and insights – to quote Terri Mottershead – it seems this could be the ‘coming of age’ for PLT.



D. Randy Garrison and Walter Archer, ‘A Theory of Community of Inquiry’ in Michael G Moore (ed), Handbook of Distance Education (2nd ed, 2007) 77.
Kristoffer Greaves and Julianne Lynch, ‘Is The Lecturer In The Room? A Study Of Student Satisfaction With Online Discussion Within Practical Legal Training’ (2012) 22(1&2) Legal Education Review 147.
Roman Tomasic, ‘Social Organisation Amongst Australian Lawyers’ (1983) 19(3) Journal of Sociology 447.


Concept Mapping Lave & Wenger’s ‘Legitimate Peripheral Participation’

I recently revisited Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s canonical work, Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (1991, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). I am glad I did, because I had forgotten how Lave and Wenger’s theory of “legitimate peripheral participation” might intersect with the sociological dimensions of my research regarding PLT practitioners’ engagement with scholarship of teaching and learning.

For now, I might let the “exhibit speak for itself”. Click on the image for an enlarged view of the concept map. Click here, for a dynamic Prezi version.

Lave and Wenger Legitimate Peripheral Participation


Research in Australian PLT – Has Much Changed?

Here’s John Nelson,* writing in 1988:
nelson 1988Has much changed since those comments?

It is not always easy to know what current research is undertaken in PLT, because little is published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, and few practitioners in the field share their work by other means, e.g. social media. There was briefly a dedicated journal for Australian PLT and clinical education, The Journal of Professional Legal Education, which ceased publication in 1998.

There are few articles focused on PLT, particularly scholarship of teaching and learning in PLT, in Australian legal education journals such as the Legal Education Review, and the Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association. Of those that are published, few are cited elsewhere, save where the research is the result of collaborations with non-law disciplines, e.g. behavioural sciences.

I’ve nearly completed a bibliometric analysis of 10 journal articles published in scholarly journals since 2006, regarding PLT and relating to scholarship of teaching and learning concepts. My preliminary observations:

The ten articles do not have citation counts on Web of Science, or Scopus, so I was unable to able to do automated citation analysis there. Two articles have citation counts on Google Scholar.

The group of ten articles cited 186 sources:
Articles – 133
Books – 29
Conf Papers – 13
Research Papers – 6
Reports – 5

Google Scholar listed 166 of the sources, with citation counts ranging from nil to 8982 (median = 15) (June 2014). Sources with high citation counts were usually in behavioural sciences.

SCimago SJR ranked journals for 43 citations (June 2014). Of these four were published in The Law Teacher, the only SJR ranked journal cited in the articles that specifically focused on legal education. Five were cross-disciplinary law journals (e.g. involving sciences, psychiatry, behavioural sciences, and politics), and six were law journals. The remaining journals focused on education (15, including cross-disciplinary journals involving technology), psychology (7), and other disciplines including psychiatry, medicine, and management.

JCR ranked journals for 32 citations (June 2014). Of these three were published in the Journal of Legal Education, the only JCR ranked journal cited specifically focused on legal education. Five were cross-disciplinary law journals, and four were law journals. The most numerous disciplines were education (7), and psychology (7). The remainder were comprised of other disciplines including psychiatry, medicine, and management.

Personally, I do not accord any particular magic to citation counts.  I am interested in how we can use bibliometric analysis to empower individual PLT practitioners to operate strategically inside and outside conventional metrics, to make cases, to garner institutional support and allocation of resources to SoTL work. I am also interested in the “Kardashian index” phenomenon, where a social media profile can acquire certain cultural and symbolic capitals, which might help practitioners to garner support and resources for research.

As I have said elsewhere, I think SoTL in PLT is important for many reasons. We need to work on building institutional support and resources for SoTL work. We can also empower PLT practitioners to undertake such work.

* John W Nelson, New directions for practical legal training in the nineties : an evaluation of the curriculum of the College of Law’s P.L.T. Course and its relevance to students’ work experiences in practice / a research project conducted on behalf of the College of Law by John W. Nelson, assisted by Pamela E. Stewart (1988).


“Reading” journal articles, texts, cases…

Those of us who mentor, teach, write, and research in legal professional education and training tend to read a lot. It may seem strange that I should post about “how” I “read” certain materials for study and research purposes.

The impetus for this post came from discussions I had with academics, teachers, and students, about how I take notes, and how I approach literature reviews. For example, one academic noticed I had over 2,000 journal articles in my Endnote library. Then she referred to my comment that technology does not substitute for one’s own intellectual and critical engagement with the texts. “How”, she asked, “did you manage to read all those articles?”

Well, I did read them. And I didn’t. At times I want to get through a lot of literature quickly, but effectively. This is what I do:

Before I start reading, I make a concept map of main headings (I’ve used Scapple for these examples). Headings can be extracted from a book’s table of contents, and most articles have headings;* if not, create your own:

reading1 Here, for example, I’m looking at Eric D Ragan et al, ‘Unregulated use of laptops over time in large lecture classes’ (2014) 78 Computers & Education 78.
DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.05.002.

I “skim” the article for sub-headings, topic sentences,  key quotes, and add these to the concept map:

reading2Ten minutes’ work gives me a single page “snapshot” of the text. I can save this figure to the record for this article in my Endnote library. I know that not everybody likes concept maps – it is possible to use the same approach in tabular or organisation chart format – use what works for you. The kinaesthesia, or “doing”, of the visualisation pays off for recall and synthesis of information.

In Scapple, I can export the text in the concept map to a “research notes” or “keywords” field in the Endnote record. This effectively “tags” the record with searchable keywords, making it possible to cross-reference articles with similar keywords. I use the Endnote “smart groups” tool to search for keywords and collate mini-libraries of references. This makes it easier to export them for more detailed analysis later, using tools like NVivo. In so doing, I make the “reading” pay off later, becoming a durable resource for study and research.

Producing the concept map helps me to recall the salient features of an article. I’ve used a similar approach when studying cases, legislation, text books, guides, manuals. etc.

The “skimming” technique takes a little practice. It gets easier as your knowledge of a topic improves. Rather than read the text line-by-line at first instance, train your eye to recognise key words and topic sentences. In essence, a good topic sentence expresses the controlling idea in a paragraph.** I find this is a much faster approach than reading a text line-by-line from beginning to end.

For later detailed analysis, you can read more closely. I find this easier when I’ve used the techniques described above. It is easier to apprehend and understand concepts on successive passes. If memory is your goal (“learning, association, retention, and reproduction”),*** creative repetition through skimming, mapping, “chunking”, organisation, and application, will assist you.

* A lot of research articles use the IMRAD structure (“introduction”, “methods”, “result”, “analysis”, “discussion/conclusion”), so you might make a template for these, ready to go.
** See: Randall L Popken, ‘A study of topic sentence use in academic writing’ (1987) 4(2) Written Communication 209.
*** Hermann Ebbinghaus, ‘1964’ (1885)  Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology. Also see: Fernand Gobet et al, ‘Chunking mechanisms in human learning’ (2001) 5(6) Trends in cognitive sciences 236; Eugène J. F. M. Custers and Olle T. J. ten Cate, ‘Very long-term retention of basic science knowledge in doctors after graduation’ (2011) 45(4) Medical Education 422.