Methods of Teaching and Evaluating Graduate Students in Law: Towards the Building of skills and Experiences
Prof. Fawzi Bin Ahmad Belkinani
Professor of Civil Law
College of Law – University of Qatar
This paper addresses the chronic crisis that most law faculties, especially in the Arab world, suffer from when it comes to the teaching curricula for postgraduate students in law. Until this day, lecturing or indoctrination is widely used in Arab law schools, and very little effort is made to open up to teaching methods that are constantly evolving and to manage the abundance of information found on search engines and networks; long time ago, teaching was directed at managing information scarcity due to lack of references. This study utilizes theoretical and investigative research conducted in the USA, France and in some Arab countries, the practical experiences accumulated by the researcher, and an inductive and comparative approach, to provide an integrated concept tailored to the specifics of postgraduate studies in law, which includes both methods of teaching and evaluating postgraduate students. This conceptualization is based on ability-building methods, given that the personal and cognitive abilities of postgraduate students should constitute output for postgraduate courses.
The paper demonstrates some mechanisms for teaching postgraduate students, mainly in Law, which include practicing learning through legal issues, collaborative learning that decentralizes access to knowledge, and learning through research projects. Another mechanism is the division of classroom teaching for each course into a general lesson and a special lesson based on student presentations that aim at deepening knowledge, respecting scientific integrity, using scientific research methods in the field of law, and training students to analyze ideas and provide criticism based on legal and logical justifications.
The paper also explains the necessity of adopting formative assessment, i.e. focusing the assessment on ensuring that postgraduate students in the law acquire the required abilities, namely evaluation, an element of the process of training and acquiring the required cognitive and behavioral skills. The researcher explains that this requires clear evaluation methods that are relevant to the learning outcomes, in addition to using different mechanisms in both assignments and research projects on the one hand and tests on the other. The paper emphasizes that teaching and evaluating postgraduate students should aim at providing postgraduate students with abilities and skills taken from their practical reality, inserting them into the students’ cognitive structure and then reconfiguring and using them in an innovative way so that the task of the teacher is primarily to provide the cognitive units that will constitute the building of knowledge and monitoring the progress of its construction, and finally ensuring that students acquire the abilities and cognitive and behavioral skills associated with the learning outcomes.
Keywords: Legal methodology, teaching postgraduate courses, assessment and evaluation, the building of abilities and skills, research projects.