However, Law can be a dry subject; an ‘ill structured domain’ requiring ‘flexible instruction’ on behalf of the educators and ‘cognitive flexibility’ from the learners (Spiro et al., 1992), who ‘…must be flexible in their understanding of a topic to apply important concepts’ (Godshalk et al., 2004). Traditionally, it has been taught through classroom lectures with the occasional scenario discussion. Yet, this approach was lacking in underlining the reality of the law within contemporary midwifery practice.
To address this, we designed a novel learning activity based around the Coroner’s Court; to empower our students, equipping them to become confident, professional practitioners. This approach integrated different technologies into a flipped model of learning, drawing on Cognitive Flexibility Theory (Spiro et al., 1992). This activity consisted of 3 varied components.
- Virtual: interactive online activities enabled students to learn basic concepts about the Coroner’s Court and legal precedence at their own pace in preparation for, rather than as part of, classroom time.
- Virtual/Physical: In classroom time, students experienced an enactment of the Coroner’s Court. Video resources created in-house supplied immersive experiences of witness interviews that enriched learning about the court process.
- Physical: students role-played the Jury, discussed the case in groups and delivered an evidence-based verdict. They were actors in the story, responding emotionally to the evidence.
The deployment of high quality audiovisual technology was central in enabling students to become emotionally engaged with the ‘stories’ of the family and professionals involved, which in turn challenged their attitudes. By immersing them into the formal Court setting, students gained empathetic experience of the case, drawing on Cognitive Emotional Pedagogy “…providing relevant emotional experiences and promoting sharing of created knowledge.” (Mäkivirta, 2002). Students exercised critical reasoning skills to reach their verdict resulting in subtler, more thoughtful consideration of the evidence.
The learning activity was evaluated in a number of ways including standard formal evaluation, but also through short video feedback and reflections collected from students/teachers throughout the learning process.
We will demonstrate the learning activities, discuss our experiences of the development and deployment processes and share evaluations of the learner/tutors’ experiences as well as lessons learnt and application to other areas of immersive learning experience.
Griffith, R., Tengnah, C.A., Patel, C. and Ivonne, P. (2010) Law and professional issues in Midwifery (transforming Midwifery practice). Exeter: Learning Matters.
Kirkup, B. (2015) The Report of the Morecambe Bay Investigation.
Spiro, Rand J., et al “Cognitive Flexibility, Constructivism, And Hypertext: Random Access Instruction For Advanced Knowledge Acquisition In Ill-Structured Domains.”. Educational Technology 31p (1991): 24-34.
Godshalk, Veronica M., et al (2004). The Role of Learning Tasks on Attitude Change Using Cognitive Flexibility Hypertext Systems, Journal of the Learning Sciences, 13 (4) 507-526.
Mäkivirta Joni (2002): ‘Cognitive Emotional Learning.’ Journal of Cognitive Pedagogy, 1, 12 – 40.