The First-Semester Student: The Legal-Problem-Solving Apprentice

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractResearch


Students are asked to answer hypothetical legal problems very early in their studies. They are typically introduced to legal-problem-solving processes (eg IRAC, FILAC, MIRAT andCLEO) very early in their first- semester subjects. An ability to answer hypothetical legal problems is critical to the student’s success at law school. In my role as a teacher in a first semester subject (Principles of Contractual Liability), I observe that some students remain confused about the process that they adopt to answer hypothetical legal problems well into their first semester. Further, many students fail to understand that the process they adopt can be applied with varying levels of sophistication. I am part way through developing a legal-problem-solving “apprenticeship” program. The program treats the student as a legal problem-solving apprentice. The legal-problem-solving apprentice is a “cognitive apprentice” (Collins, Brown, and Newman, 1989). The legal-problem solving apprentice will be provided with: (1) instruction; (2) demonstration; (3) student and teacher examples; (4)self-guided practice; (5) teacher-guided practice; (6) opportunities to revise and reflect; and(7) individualised online feedback.I shall present a high-level explanation of the program. Moving forward, I intend to develop the program into an online program. I am interested in exploring (in a brainstorming session) how to best preserve the benefits of a cognitive apprenticeship (such as cognitive transparency) in an online learning and teaching environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pagesp. 4 of the Symposium Program
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015
EventOne Day Symposium on Teaching Legal Analysis and Writing Skills - University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 10 Dec 201510 Dec 2015


ConferenceOne Day Symposium on Teaching Legal Analysis and Writing Skills
Internet address


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