Reimagining Introduction to Criminal Procedure and Evidence as Case Based Learning

Helene Love

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Helene Love, School of Criminology

Project team: Daniel Derksen and Angela Wilson, research assistants

Timeframe: January 2019 to July 2020

Funding: $6000

Course addressed: CRIM 330 – Criminal Procedure and Evidence

Description: This project investigates if the students in CRIM 330 gain the conceptual knowledge and ability to apply the concepts more effectively through case-based learning (CBL) or through the traditional lecture method of delivery.

Anecdotally, criminal procedure and evidence is a notoriously difficult, mandatory course in the criminology program. I am concerned with two aspects of student learning. First, I am concerned with student’s attitudes about the course, their own meta-cognition about how difficult learning CRIM 330 will be before they even try the course. My goal is to make this topic, one that I am passionate about, more approachable to students to open their minds to learning criminal procedure and evidence in the first place. In this project, I will measure student attitudes about CRIM 330 by administering a survey at the end of the Spring 2019 term that asks them about their thoughts on taking CRIM 330 prior to the start of term, and now that they have completed the term. The purpose of this measurement is to first see whether the anecdotal evidence is true. It also provides information that will provide a control to see if changing the way the course materials are delivered can make the topic seem more approachable to students.

My second concern is students’ ability to understand, apply, and retain the information conveyed in CRIM 330. Traditionally delivered as a lecture, I worry that students completing this course will study for exams and not gain the opportunity for applied learning that will help them succeed in careers in criminal justice. In this project, I will research best practices in relation to using CBL in law and then develop course materials in a way that aligns with best practices. I will then administer a quiz that tests students’  ability to understand the materials in the short term, and another quiz that tests their applied knowledge of longer term knowledge, to see if either of these outcomes has improved.

Questions addressed:

  • Do students perceive the study of evidence and criminal procedure as more approachable through CBL?
  • Does presenting the substantive materials through CBL enhance student learning of the concepts in the short term?
  • Does presenting the materials through CBL enhance student learning of the concepts in the longer term?

Knowledge sharing: I plan to share my project findings with colleagues who teach the law courses in my department, as well as with law teachers more broadly through a conference presentation once I have analyzed my data.