This is just a short update on how the HEA project (Legal Education – academic or practical? The use of flexible learning to compare undergraduate students observing professional practice with those learning in a traditional academic setting) I am leading has been going.
Thus far, as suspected, of the participants there have been a few students who have been inconsistent in terms of attendance, but on the other hand at each of the two locations (Paisley and Hamilton) there have been a core group that have attended either all sessions, or indeed missed a maximum of one. The students that have missed sessions have all indicated that they will (or in some cases have) voluntarily attend an additional court session to ensure that the total number of hours spent in court will reach the minimum threshold to ensure fair comparison across all participants.
As of the end of today (Friday 7th December) there will have been ten court visits in total, to a large range of court types including:
– Solemn trial (Trial with judge and jury)
– Summary trial (Trial with judge alone)
– Custody court
– Summary court (where accused has pled guilty)
– High Court of Justiciary (Trial with judge and jury)
At both Paisley and Hamilton there have been cases with witnesses giving oral testimony, and also physical evidence presented. In at least two sessions there have been objections lodged by one of the counsel based on the evidence being presented.
From my own observations, it would be possible to have answered a number of the questions the students have been asked to attempt to answer, whilst there have been other areas that a limited amount of information might have provided an indication, for which a student may be able to find the answer with a little investigation. There are other questions which I would not expect the students to have been able to answer yet unless they have taken the initiative to source answers elsewhere.
There has been some adaptation to the original research plan as initially there were seperate days scheduled for feedback sessions, however due to time constraints this was restructured to instead seek feedback and ask questions directly after each court visit. In many cases there have been questions to clarify what has been observed, or probing questions to lead on from questions raised during the course of the session.
The final court visits will be next week (week beginning 10th December) with a final focus group (to be filmed) thereafter. It is expected that an interim publication will be possible in January following the observation of the focus group and analysis of student responses to set questions. A further update will be made on this site prior to the end of January.