Lessons Learnt from Curriculum Revision Strategy at Uganda Christian University

Paper presented at the 2015 CLEA Conference in Glasgow

David Dennison and Anthony
Uganda Christian University

In September of 2014 the Faculty of Law at Uganda Christian University launched a revised curriculum. The utilisation and leverage of teaching assistants is at the centre of its change strategy. This paper will describe and assess the initial implementation of the curriculum review strategy. The paper will be of interest and value to law schools in emerging Commonwealth states facing the challenge of large class sizes and limited resources.

Uganda Christian University hosts a four-year LLB Programme with approximately 900 students. Class sizes typically range from 90 to 130 students. The standard classroom environment is a good one in terms of finances. However, the Faculty of Law observed that this environment is not ideal for facilitating improvements in student writing and oral presentation skills. Large classes limit student-lecturer interaction making feedback-intensive marking difficult.

In order to address these concerns, the Faculty of Law conceived a curriculum revision strategy that targets the weaknesses of its standard content deliver model. The Faculty of Law turned to enthusiastic and relatively affordable tutorial assistants to address its perceived gaps in its educational offerings. Many of these tutorial assistants were recent graduates with a genuine commitment to the Faculty of Law.

The tutorial assistants identified for the task of implementing curriculum review were assigned small class environments in two categories of class settings. For each semester of study the Faculty of Law has designated one class as a writing intensive class and one class as a Socratic/oral advocacy intensive class. Each of these classes are broken down into smaller tutorial sections in order to facilitate more interactive classroom environments and lower marking loads for increased feedback and a higher number of course work assignments.

The curriculum revision was implemented in September Semester of 2014. At the conclusion of the semester, the Faculty conducted surveys of the tutorial assistants and the students in the new small tutorial class settings.

This paper will offer initial data and insight on the lessons learned from this curriculum revision. It will offer useful lessons learnt to law schools and faculties facing similar challenges as they explore ways to improve the quality of legal education in high-volume low-resource settings.

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