Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Follow-up on New Research Course

Back on December 10, I blogged about a new course that Pace Law Library was offering during the intersession between semesters. The two-credit course was entitled Advanced Research Skills for Health, Disability, and Elder Law, and was taught by Margaret Moreland, one of our reference librarians. We hope to use the format as a template for other two-credit intersession research courses in the future. I promised Betsy an update on how the course went.

The course concluded last week. Three students registered for the course, not bad considering that it was approved very late in the semester, and there was very little publicity for it. Margaret doesn't yet have final student evaluations, but offered the following impressions of the experience. The course ran for six days, which Margaret felt was probably too long. Next time, she would run the course for five days, with longer sessions each day. Leaving Saturday free for a make-up session if we got shut down by snow during the week would also be smart. Margaret used an online legal-research textbook, Legal Research: How to Find & Understand the Law , 14th ed., by Elias, Levinkind and Stim. She chose this because she didn't have time to order books for the course and because it was free. However, the students found the text to be overly simplified, and Margaret plans to create her own course pack in the future. This would probably be necessary with most subject-specific research courses. The students' computer skills varied widely, and Margaret is going to try to level the playing field next year by requiring that students do Lexis and Westlaw tutorials and quizzes before the first intersession class. She also wants to experient with Adobe Captivate to create a basic legal research review class for students to view before the first class; this would mean that less class time would need to be devoted to review of concepts students should have learned during the first year. Margaret found that whenever possible, her students chose to do the assignments online rather than in print sources, and that is certainly something that I see when I assign problems to my Advanced Legal Research students. All in all, she found the course to be a good, if tiring, experience, and reports that the students seemed to have found it a worthwhile use of their time.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Marie, Thank you and Margaret for the excellent and detailed report! What an interesting model!