LOYOLA UNIVERSITY CHICAGO SCHOOL of LAW (2016 Winter Magazine) - page 12-13

Even for students who don’t
necessarily want to become
mediators, Dadourian adds,
“These skills prepare you to be
a much more well-rounded
attorney for your clients.”
Creating online
As more of Loyola’s law
courses and degrees are offered
online, School of Law professors
find themselves thinking carefully
about how to incorporate critical
cultural and relationship
components in courses that take
place largely on-screen.
“Used properly, technology
is a tool that can really assist learning;
it’s an opportunity to be very
intentional with your instruction
and to assess whether students have
achieved certain outcomes,” says
Kaufman. “But research suggests
that neither online learning nor in-
class learning is as good as blended
learning,” so the law school works
hard to incorporate face time into
online degree programs through
immersion weekends and other
on-campus experiences, he says.
“Online learning does require an
adjustment from faculty and students
to make it a full experience,” Geraghty
says. “You have to build very active,
regular feedback into the system and
design learning in smaller bites. We
just moved over to a new system that
permits more face-to-face contact
through web cameras.
“Not everyone is enthusiastic
about that, since some students are in
PJs,” she adds, laughing. “I try to start
my courses on-camera so people can
remember and relate to each other,
and then switch the cameras off.”
Singer notes that incorporating
online material can give students a leg
up on course concepts even before
classes begin. “Loyola is playing a real
leadership role in online and blended
learning; no one else is as good at this
as we are. So we’re always thinking
ahead about how to engage students
before they hit the classroom,” he says.
Immersion in new ideas
Immersion experiences, in
which students spend a few days or
a week plunged into a new culture,
legal system, or otherwise new
experience, can be powerful tools
for learning. The School of Law offers
weekend immersion workshops in
topics like special education law
and collaborative justice, but
several professors also teach full-
length courses with weeklong
immersion components.
Singer’s Access to Health Care
course, designed to provide a hands-
on experience for mostly first-year
students, caps classroom study on
a particular health care access topic
with an immersive spring break
trip that includes a service project.
Previous years’ courses have taken
students to Appalachia, Detroit,
Puerto Rico, and New Orleans.
This year, students will study
mental health care in prison,
traveling to Los Angeles to meet
with physicians, corrections and
law enforcement officers, social
workers, and others focused on
mental health in the penal system.
“It’s four solid days of meeting,
investigating, and learning, and
students really see what the less
fortunate among us face in obtaining
health care,” Singer says.
In her Global Law Seminar,
Geraghty built on Loyola’s strong
study-abroad tradition and adjusted
the model so her students take
primary responsibility for their own
learning. The course, offered most
spring semesters, takes students to
a different global locale over spring
break (past countries have included
Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, and
Cambodia) to work in two- or three-
person research teams on topics of
their choosing.
“Students handle most of the
course administration and logistics:
we have a curriculum committee that
presents background information
about the country, a travel committee
that makes transportation and
accommodation arrangements, and
so on,” Geraghty says. “Students are
also responsible for picking their
research topics and choosing
individuals to interview while abroad.
The end goal is having a publishable
research paper. Every trip we’ve taken
has resulted in at least one paper
published in a law review.”
Owning their learning can be
uncomfortable at first for students
used to more structure and guidance,
Geraghty says, but “the general
feedback is always that it’s been a
fantastic experience. It’s a self-selected
group, and students keep coming back.”
With so many instructors retooling
their teaching strategies to reflect
emerging brain science, the School
of Law won’t stop looking for ways to
engage students more fully.
“The changes in the way
we teach are all based on our
understanding that effective learning
requires active learners—the opposite
of an authoritative instructor who
delivers information received passively,”
says Kaufman. “We’ll continue
finding ways to make legal education
interactive, engaged, and vibrant.
That’s profound learning.”
Advances in neuroscience and educational
psychology reveal that a mix of learning styles—
with an emphasis on active participation—helps
students process and retain information better
than traditional lecturing mode. Loyola law profs
take an array of approaches:
Team up
Students learn more when working in pairs or groups.
Own it
When learners take a significant role in shaping their own
learning, whether it’s helping to plan coursework, choosing
their own presentation topics, or taking optional quizzes to
measure what they’ve learned, they tend to engage more
deeply with the material.
Capture creativity
Students remember concepts better when they’re presented
in ways that spark their imagination, so role-playing, drama,
games, videos, art, and other creative approaches are useful.
Feature face time
Online study is integral to the future of education—but
keeping the element of human interaction is essential to
effective learning.
Take the plunge
Immersion into new cultures, legal systems, or legal problems
means students soak up substantive information in a short time.
Professor Teresa Frisbie (JD ’86, left) and students Jackie Ross, Taylor Leahy, and Melissa Turk practice mediation role playing.
Associate Dean Michael Kaufman
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