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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sponsored Post: Evidence in Practice

The following post is by Deborah Jones Merritt & Ric Simmons (both of The Ohio State University-Moritz College of Law) and is sponsored by West Academic.

Law professors try to generate active, rather than passive, knowledge in students. We want our students to do more than simply recite legal rules—or even choose the correct answer to a multiple choice question. To work effectively as lawyers, our students must be able to seize relevant facts from an unfolding situation, recognize the legal implications of those facts, and craft solutions.

Classroom hypotheticals, writing exercises, and problem sets help develop active knowledge, but we wanted to go further for our Evidence students. The fourth edition of our book, Learning Evidence: From the Federal Rules to the Courtroom (West Academic Publishing), will include seven online courtroom interactives to aid active learning.

Students will play the role of a courtroom lawyer or judge in each interactive, raising or ruling on objections to testimony that they hear in real time. Five of the interactives focus on subsets of rules (such as character evidence or hearsay); the other two are meant for semester-end review and combine rules from all parts of the course.

Students playing these interactives must know when not to object, as well as when to object. They lose points when they object to admissible evidence, mirroring the impatience that a judge might demonstrate in the courtroom. They also lose points when they fail to object to inadmissible evidence. To gain points, students must object at the proper time and cite appropriate grounds for their objection. The interactives require students to type in the rule number or common designation (“irrelevant,” “leading,” “hearsay”) to support their objection; they must recall that ground on their own, not choose it from a list of possible objections.

The interactives offer continuous feedback, sustaining proper objections and explaining the flaws in improper ones. Students may play as many times as they wish, trying different grounds for their objections. When they are done, they can view and print a full transcript of the trial scene, which explains both proper and improper objections.

We have tested the interactives with current students, who uniformly offer two reactions: “This is fun!” And, “this is hard!” We hoped for both of those reactions. Objecting to inadmissible evidence in real time, while listening to courtroom dialogue, is hard. It is much more difficult than spotting issues in a multiple-choice question or on an essay exam. But this is what actual attorneys have to do during a trial. We believe that if students can master these interactives, they will increase their ability to analyze evidence issues in other settings. The “fun” part of the simulated trial experience, meanwhile, will keep them working.

The interactives, labeled “Evidence in Practice,” will be available to all students who purchase our Learning Evidence book. We will also provide information for both professors and students about how to use these interactives most effectively. These are learning tools, not graded quizzes. Most students will struggle to gain points the first time they play an interactive. But if they replay several times, and then study the trial transcript available at the end of the exercise, they will learn evidentiary concepts more deeply.

Going forward, we hope to create more interactive exercises of different types. Some exercises might put a student in the middle of a settlement discussion; others might embody a brainstorming session among lawyers preparing for trial. Students will learn to apply evidentiary rules in diverse settings.

We intend these interactives to complement—not replace—classroom discussions, live simulations, and writing exercises. All of those experiences foster active learning. But by providing additional opportunities for practice and feedback, we hope our “Evidence in Practice” series will enhance outcomes for students.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on November 28, 2017 at 09:31 AM in Sponsored Announcements | Permalink

Comments

And how much will the one-time license cost?

Posted by: John | Nov 28, 2017 1:18:14 PM

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