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

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“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.

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Visualising Preston’s Ethical Decision-Making Model

I have posted about this before, but given public policy debates on issues such as inequality, refugees, climate change, etc, I thought it might be useful to post this simplified model of ethical decision-making again. I contend that decision-makers are obliged to make explicit the process by which a position is chosen. The notion of “accountability” implies that an account of a decision should be possible, before the decision is acted on. The same applies to subsequent reviews, i.e. “should we continue to act as we have done?” It seems to me many policy decisions prefer economics and utility, to values, ethics, consequences, dispositions, and character. Undoubtedly many policies involve complex considerations. As part of this we can use some simple tools to tease out the threads of difficult problems.

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I’m going to #issotl14 |Quebec City | October 22-25

issotl 2014 acceptanceI am excited to learn that my abstract is accepted for the International Society of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Annual Conference in Quebec City, Canada, later this year.

For me, this is an excellent opportunity to constructively confront my research with leading international scholars in the scholarship of teaching and learning (“SoTL”) field. I personally believe that we can raise the status of SoTL in legal education, and particularly practical legal training, by undertaking interdisciplinary work, so that we can learn from, and test our ideas with, scholars in other fields.

I’m very fortunate to have already presented at the British Sociological Association annual conference and the Association of Law Teachers annual conference (both in Leeds, England) earlier this year. That means I’ve already used up my institutional higher degree by research international conference allowance. If you have any tips about alternative sources, such as bursaries or scholarships, please let me know!

 

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Qualitative Data Analysis Strategies, in Concept Maps

I’m presenting a peer-to-peer session today on some NVivo techniques, and in the course of my preparations rediscovered these concept maps I made when reading Corbin, JM & Strauss, AL 2008, Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory, 3rd edn, Sage Publications, Inc, Thousand Oaks, California.

I’ve “SlideShared” the maps and posted them here, because I think they’re quite useful when thinking about qualitative data analysis.

Let me know what you think?

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Using Scrivener with NVivo

Scrivener is a very lovely app for drafting lengthy or complex documents. I’ll be honest – I love it. Regular followers of this blog will know that I also work with NVivo, computer-aided qualitative data analysis software.

I’ve made a short presentation about using Scrivener and NVivo together:

Let me know what you think.

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Paper plug: ‘Gatecrashing the Research Paradigm…’

MonashNice to see Monash University Library directing law students to our co-authored article ‘Gatecrashing the Research Paradigm: Effective Integration of Online Technologies in Maximising Research Impact and Engagement in Legal Education’*

* Kate Galloway, Kristoffer Greaves and Melissa Castan, ‘Gatecrashing The Research Paradigm: Effective Integration Of Online Technologies In Maximising Research Impact And Engagement In Legal Education’ (2013) 6 (1/2) Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association 83.

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Quick Look – Submissions re PLT to Productivity Commission’s Access to Justice Inquiry

Access to Justice Arrangements Productivity Commission Draft RepIn my previous post I referred to the Australian Productivity Commission’s overview of its Draft Report regarding Access to Justice, released 8 April 2014.

The Commission received 190 submissions, of which 36 are post-draft report submissions.

As far as I can tell, about 8 submissions are from either a law school, or an academic connected to a law school. There does not appear to be any submissions from a PLT provider, which is surprising given the terms of of the report and the recommendations referred to in my previous post.

I have quickly examined the 190 submissions in relation to the topic of practical legal training (PLT). Just 11 submissions mention PLT at all, and of these about one third might be substantive submissions. I provide the following summary of these submissions, with the caveat that this is the product of a quick perusal and errors and omissions should not be imputed to those cited.

Submission 169 – Law Admissions Consultative Committee (LACC):

p. 2 at 2.6 – criticises the draft report for failing to ‘either to acknowledge, or in formulating its Recommendation 7.1 to take account of, the further significant roles of the Academic Requirements as referents for determining the adequacy of the training of overseas lawyers and the additional training they require before becoming eligible for admission in Australia; as constituting the common threshold for sequential PLT training in Australian PLT courses’.

p. 3 at 2.12 –  observes, ‘the Draft Report incorrectly asserts that, in the current education and training of lawyers “there is no requirement for the study of alternative dispute resolution (ADR)”‘, pointing out that early dispute resolution is included in the National Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers.

p. 6 at 3.4(a) – notes the ‘aspiration’ of the academic and PLT requirements for admission, ‘is to develop threshold competence, appropriate to someone beginning a life in the law, rather than sophisticated or advanced knowledge or expertise’.

p. 6 at 3.4(b) – states  ‘the 11 Academic Requirements and PLT Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers are national referents for determining what additional training must be undertaken by overseas applicants who wish to prepare for admission to the legal profession in Australia’.

p. 7 at 3.4(c) – states ‘The national PLT Competency Standards for Entry-Level Lawyers assume that all those proceeding to undertake sequential PLT courses have attained threshold and common understanding in each of the areas of knowledge comprised in the 11 Academic Requirements. Given the limited duration of such PLT courses, it is impractical for them either to offer remedial training to some students who are not adequately prepared in some of these common areas of knowledge, or to extend their courses to cater to those who are not appropriately prepared. Further, to do so would increase the costs of the practical legal training stage of legal education unnecessarily.’

p. 8 at 4.1 – ‘In evaluating the ALRC’s [Australian Law Reform Commission] suggestions about the need for training in broad generic professional skills development, it is important to note that the ALRC Report predated the introduction of the comprehensive and explicit national PLT Competency Standards for Entry-level Lawyers which were not endorsed by all Admitting Authorities until 2002. Since that time, all PLT courses have been required to ensure that every person presenting for admission has received practical legal training in, and acquired and demonstrated entry-level competence in, many matters relevant to modern legal practice – including ADR.’

pp. 11-12 at 5 – ‘…when a person is seeking admission, it may be relevant to enquire whether the person has the relevant academic and PLT qualifications and whether the person has been disciplined by an academic institution for, say, plagiarism or cheating.’
‘It is, however, true that many law graduates proceed to undertake PLT and seek admission to the legal profession, but do not thereafter seek to practise law…’
‘The suggestion that there is a need to consider what legal tasks can appropriately be performed by legal graduates without practising certificates fails to recognise the large numbers of lawyers who are already employed in legal capacities on legal tasks in business or government and who do not require practising certificates. This has happened for many years. Indeed, Admitting Authorities have recently had to grapple with the problem of stale qualifications because of law graduates seeking admission to the legal profession many years after they have obtained legal academic and PLT qualifications, who are now employed as lawyers in senior government positions.’

p. 12 at 7 – ‘The Commission is apparently unaware of the requirement of item 5.3 of the national PLT Competency Standards for Entry-level Lawyers, which every applicant for admission since 2003 is required to acquire and to demonstrate before becoming eligible for admission to the legal profession.’ Item 5.3 of the PLT competency standards effective January 2015 refers to the Civil Litigation Practice competency.

Submission 10 – Christopher Enright (proprietor of Maitland Press):

p. 93 – ‘Chapter 14: Internship for Trainee Lawyers. Make working in legal aid for a period, say of two or three months, part of the practical legal training (PLT) for novice lawyers. Deploy the novices in preparing documented cases for clients. There are two benefits from this – the novices would be on a relatively low wage, which keeps costs down, and at the same time these novices receive intensive and supervised training and experience in the basic tasks for litigation.’
p. 95 – ‘Newly graduated lawyers. One possibility is to incorporate into their practical legal training a period of say three months where they are an intern in a legal aid office.’
p. 100 ‘Indeed, it would be possible to include a placement in a legal aid office as an optional or even compulsory part of practical legal training. This could involve instruction and supervised practice in the following matters:
1. Office management. 2. File management.
3. Interviewing a client.
4. Advising a client.
5. Interviewing a witness.
6. Writing a statement of evidence of a witness. 7. Preparing documents for a client’s case.
8. Ethics, with special emphasis on litigation.’

Submission 92 – Dr Liz Curran (ANU):

p. 2 – refers to own teaching experience in ANU Legal Workshop’s GDLP.
p. 12 – ‘Clinical and some Practical Legal Training Programs at universities do great work engaging students in supervised service delivery to community members experiencing disadvantage.’
p. 15 – ‘Is the current regulatory framework for legal practitioners appropriate? The National Legal Profession Reform process is taking a long time. There are sometimes, among the various admitting authorities and others examining admission to practice, in some states and territories, arbitrary decisions taken with little or no evidence or a level of sophistication about developments in practical legal education and effective learning for practice in the current world. There is much national and international work in the practical legal training and legal education spheres that could inform such conversations.’

Submission 181 – UNSW Law School:

p. 1 – ‘Lawyers need first-class black-letter skills, but that is not enough. Equally, we should not be a trade school providing practical legal training.’
p. 2 – “The steps of legal training  – Your report describes the steps as being university education, PLT, and obtaining a practising certificate. The last of these is not training, but recognition that the first 2 steps have been completed. In its place, it would be more appropriate to include the on-the-job training that young lawyers get when they join law firms or other employers.’
Attachment to Submission 181 – Themes of law school curricula: ‘A third is skills and capabilities (not in terms of detailed practical legal training, but rather in communication, critical-thinking and problem-solving).’

Submission 114 – Adrian Evans (Monash University):

p. 1 – ‘There is little general morality or even general legal ethics education during law school and certainly none post law school in the PLT phase of legal education.’

Submission 171 – Adrian Evans (post-draft submission):

p. 1 – proposes consideration of ‘the relative merits of increased clinical legal education [CLE] at the university or practical training stages of education’. CLE methods can work in a PLT environment, but these are time-pressured and increasingly online environments where the ability to interact face-to-face with a number of (real) clients over many weeks, is considered to be impractical and/or uneconomic.’

Submissions that mention PLT in passing:

Submissions 34 (NSW Bar Association), 91 (National Association of Community Legal Centres), 96 (Law Council of Australia), 139 (Law Society of South Australia), 174 (Law Society of NSW) each mention PLT in passing, usually with reference to admission requirements.

Public Hearings

The Productivity Commission will hold public hearings commencing in Canberra on 2 June, and in other capital cities.

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“Forks of Law” at #britsoc14 BSA annual conference

I will present at Roundtable Session 29 (Sports Hall 2) on Friday 25 April at the British Sociological Association annual conference at Leeds University. The images below are from my introductory handout.

BSA handout p. 1
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BSA handout p. 2
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BSA handout p. 3
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BSA handout p. 4
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10 Reasons Why Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Matters in PLT

10 Reasons(1) ‘Teaching makes learning possible’, whereas scholarship of teaching and learning (“SoTL”) shows how ‘learning is made possible’.[1]

(2) SoTL raises ’the status of teaching’, (3) supports practitioners ‘to teach more knowledgeably’, (4) enables assessment of ‘quality of teaching’, (5) improves learning experiences of lawyers-to-be.[2]

(6) Professionalism – a sense of professionalism and responsibility. This involves a PLT practitioner’s profession, both as a lawyer and educator.[4]

(7) Pragmatism – recognition that SoTL informs teaching and learning work in a way that is ‘transparent’ to external scrutiny, and informs individual practice.[5]

(8) Policy – recognition of ‘national, state and local policy’, including policies of legal regulators, admission boards, and higher education regulators.[6] Earn a seat at the policy-making table.

(9) Legislative intent of mandatory PLT includes improvement of the protection of clients, improve the administration of justice, and assure quality legal services.

(10) Learning more about how teaching and learning works, using that knowledge, helps us to do PLT “better”, rewards our efforts as PLT practitioners (self-actualisation).


[1] Mick Healey, ‘Developing the scholarship of teaching in higher education: a discipline-based approach’ (2000) 19(2) Higher Education Research and Development 169 (italics added) 70-71.

[2] Keith Trigwell and Suzanne Shale, ‘Student learning and the scholarship of university teaching’ (2004) 29(4) Studies in Higher Education 523

[3] Lee S Shulman, ‘From Minsk to Pinsk: Why a scholarship of teaching and learning’ (2000) 1(1) Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 48

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 50.

[6] Ibid, 52.

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