Dr Rachel Horton, School of Law
The PLaNT project involved the co-creation, with students, of a series and podcasts and other materials for Contract Law (LW1CON). Student leaders consulted with their peers to decide what materials students felt would most enhance learning on the module and then created these together with the Module Convenor.
This project aimed to engage current law students as co-creators of course learning material.
Contract Law is a large compulsory first year module – in an average year between 250 and 300 students take the module – taught using a traditional combination of lectures and small group teaching. Module staff were keen to develop additional resources for students to access, in their own time, through Blackboard and wanted to engage students in developing these.
Staff met with selected students to introduce a student curated Blackboard space, in which the students had authoring permissions to generate podcast feeds, which would be accessible to all students enrolled on the module. These students were then asked to consult with their peers to generate ideas for use of the space/topics for the podcasts.
The student leaders then created a series of podcasts, largely focusing on revision materials and assessment and exam technique by interviewing lecturers on the module. The students also devised and created a series of written materials, in a variety of formats, and lecturers provided feedback on these (chiefly to ensure accuracy) before they were uploaded onto Blackboard.
The student leaders were highly engaged and enthusiastic and went well beyond their original remit in devising course content. They fed back, informally, that they had found the experience immensely beneficial to their own learning, as well as giving them the opportunity to develop a range of leadership, technical and communication skills.
Statistics on Blackboard showed that the materials were well used by the rest of the cohort, particularly in the immediate run up to the exams. While it proved difficult to recruit students for a focus group after the project had finished, in order to gain more structured feedback, student representatives commented at the Staff Student Liaison Committee that they had received very positive feedback from students about the additional materials created through the project.
The success of the activity was largely a result of the enthusiasm, imagination and commitment of the students involved. We were lucky to recruit students who were able to work very well together, and with their peers, to create resources to genuinely enhance learning, and to fill gaps in course materials that may otherwise have gone unnoticed by staff.
The project also offered an opportunity for the teaching staff on the module to reflect on the content and format of materials students want. Even after the funded project has finished this proved very helpful in enabling us to continue to produce similar materials, particularly once teaching had to move online in the wake of COVID-19.
The project and funding began in the Spring term and with hindsight it would have been beneficial to start the project earlier in the course. In particular this would have provided opportunity for gathering more structured feedback from the whole cohort (it was difficult to secure a meaningful student response to feedback once the summer exams were over.)
The materials produced by the students remain relevant for future cohorts and will continue to be made available. New materials will be developed along similar lines, with student input wherever possible, particularly next year as lectures move wholly online.