Collaborative and Cooperative Learning in Legal Education – the Case of Hong Kong

Paper presented at the 2017 CLEA Conference in Melbourne

Jenny Chan
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

This paper explores the potential benefits of collaborative or cooperative learning exercises in legal education in Hong Kong. Legal educators increasingly adopt a variety of innovative in-class assessment methods to replace or supplement conventional examination types. One of the most widely documented innovative assessment methods is the group exercise model in the form of e.g. group discussions, role-plays, simulations or group presentations. These activities are often referred to by inconsistent terminology, such as “collaborative learning”, “student collaboration”, “cooperative work”, “group work” or “cooperative peer learning”. Furthermore, there is little hard evidence of the pedagogical value of these models. This paper is designed as a “desk research” to establish a framework to assess the collaborative or cooperative learning exercises in legal education. It introduces their common features, discusses their differences and actual and potential pedagogical values. Against this background the paper then explores if and how group exercises can improve the learning experience of law students in Hong Kong.

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