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Improving the Student Experience of Class Participation: A Study of Enablers and Inhibitors

Dr Bostock, Dr Rowe, Dr Gooi, Professor Vines, University of NSW


Susskind observes that despite substantial changes in the legal profession, particularly as a result of the impact of technology, there will always be a role for “the expert trusted advisor”, in other words, “intelligent, creative, innovative lawyers”1 who can develop and communicate “new solutions and strategies”.2 Communication, group and higher order thinking skills therefore assume particular importance in this rapidly changing environment. Assessable class participation (ACP) is an important tool for educators to develop these core skills in students, as it is well established that when assessed, class participation increases.3

At the Faculty of Law and Justice, UNSW, ACP underpins our approach to learning and teaching. Through an inter-disciplinary research study, student perspectives around ACP were examined through a survey across 2 nd and 3 rd year law students. This presentation will outline the preliminary findings from a current sample of 122 student responses, including factors that enable and inhibit class participation, student emotions associated with ACP and the role of instructors in creating optimum environments for class participation. The presentation will also describe outcomes from the comparison of survey responses between subsets of the student cohort (e.g., student gender, international vs domestic students and whether English is the primary language).The presentation will also discuss the implications of the findings in terms of student engagement, learning and wellbeing.4


  1. R Susskind, Tomorrow’s Lawyers (OUP, 2 nd ed, 2017), 133.
  2. Ibid, 134.
  3. A Steel, J Laurens and A Huggins, ‘Class Participation as a Learning and Assessment Strategy in Law: Facilitating Students' Engagement, Skills Development and Deep Learning’ (2013) 36 (1) University of New South Wales Law Journal 30.
  4. K Rocca, ‘Student Participation in the College Classroom: An Extended Multidisciplinary Literature Review’ (2010) 59(2) Communication Education 185, 187.