Experiential Learning Partners

By now, most law professors know the phrase “experiential learning.” But the responses to integrating experiential learning in a given course still run the gamut. In this post, I want to share with you a few examples of how you can invite experiential learning partners into the classroom to both help the professor create an engaging experience and simultaneously expand the impact of experiential learning beyond that professor’s course.

One method is to invite upper-level students to participate in the simulation. This can be either via students the professor knows (a research assistant, someone the professor coached for moot court or trial team, etc.) or it could be a partnership with a full upper-level class. For example, the professor doing a simulated mediation exercise in a 1L course could invite students from an upper-level Mediation course to offer feedback. Or invite members of the moot court team to serve as judges in a simulated appellate oral argument in Torts or Legal Research and Writing.

Potential partners are not limited to upper-level students—some professors use multiple sections of the same course. Professor Jones might have her Civil Procedure students collectively draft and serve a discovery request (or a motion, or a complaint, etc.) on Professor Anderson’s Civil Procedure course, which could then collectively craft a response. Students in separate Contracts courses could do the same thing with drafts of a contract. The idea is easily adaptable to a variety of course topics beyond the 1L year.

Some professors take it a step further and draw alumni or community volunteers into the classroom to serve as potential jurors in a voir dire that Criminal Law students select from, or partner with local drama schools to recruit fictional plaintiffs for simulated attorney-client meetings. If the mock trial or other event is detailed and engaging enough, you could even invite local K-12 students to come observe the simulated proceeding as a safe introduction to the justice system (and a nice way to offer something to the community at minimal cost to the school).

Experiential learning has value to students and professors, as many now have shown, but through these and other methods, it also has value to other individuals that partner with the performance. So try it out if you haven’t already! Your students will thank you.

You can read more about ways to add experiential learning to your course in this list of ideas and resources: goo.gl/59KlUP

3 Responses

  1. Brian, thanks so much for sharing your very concrete ideas which can be executed in a variety of ways. Thanks also for the link to your materials on the web, which can be of very high value to law professors in any context.

  2. Experiential education is when learners actively engage in activities or experiences. Students learn better when they are actively engaged in the learning process. Experiential education is a philosophy of education that describes the process that occurs between a teacher and student that infuses direct experience with the learning environment and content. The term is not interchangeable with experiential learning; however experiential learning is a sub-field and operates under the methodologies of experiential education. Experimental career education thus plays crucial role in students life. Mr Chris Salamone formerly served as a faculty member at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and the National Institute of Trial Advocacy, and served as a leadership curriculum adviser at The University of Central Oklahoma. Chris Salamone works to improve the lives of young people around the world through his many philanthropic endeavors. To this end, he functions as chairman of the Lead America Foundation and extends a considerable amount of financial support to fund the education of 300 children in Haiti.

  3. Thanks Chris, though we aren’t using the terms interchangeably. Experiential learning is specifically described by ABA Standards 303(a)(3) and 304, and the broader definition used by probably most law schools encompasses everything in the post.

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