Examining Law-related Training in the School of Criminology

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Tamara O’Doherty, School of Criminology

Project team: David MacAlister, School of Criminology, and Victoria Harraway, research assistant

Timeframe: June 2019 to January 2021

Funding: $5998

Final report: View Tamara O'Doherty's final report and full findings (PDF)

Description: This project will canvas the experiences of our alumni and senior undergraduate students who complete practicum and other placements, with a particular focus on those who have completed the legal studies certificate, minor, or legal stream courses (Crim 135, 230, 330, 335, 338) and those who have pursued law-related further education or careers.

We want to know how students feel their law-related classes prepared them for, or benefitted them in, their subsequent work or educational paths. While we want to know how the law-related courses and instruction have been useful to students who are not employed in law-related careers or educational experiences, our particular focus will be on students who pursue careers or education related to law. In addition to surveying all of our alumni who have graduated in the past five years, those currently or about to graduate, and those who gained practicum and/or co-op experience, we would like to hold informal conversations with alumni who pursued their Juris Doctorates or other legal careers to gain more insight about the level of preparation our courses gave these students. We would like to know their perspectives on the courses we offer, the specific skills that they received from our program, and the type of legal skills that they feel undergraduate students ought to have in order to succeed in law school today or in other legally-oriented careers. The underlying purpose of this project is to determine how we can best prepare our students for the current demands of legal education and law-related careers.

Questions addressed:

  • How are the required law-related courses useful for subsequent careers or further education?
  • What skills do our students learn in their law-related courses? Which courses or activities do alumni find the most beneficial in their subsequent careers or education?
  • What skills should students develop in undergraduate courses that will assist them in their subsequent careers? Which of the tools or resources that we provide regularly are useful or effective and should we alter or revise the tools in any way?
  • Do our alumni have any other recommendations about law-related courses, the legal studies minor or legal studies certificate?

Knowledge sharing: We have discussed the findings informally with our colleagues on several occasions, and with the new members of our faculty. We hope to connect with the full complement of law-related faculty at the School of Criminology and term lecturers to discuss the findings and to make recommendations about any changes to the course offerings and to the courses that currently give students credit for the legal studies minor, certificate, and post-baccalaureate degree. We will then present our findings and the recommendations to the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

Keywords: Legal Studies, Alumni Perspectives, Curriculum Development, Legal Undergraduate Pedagogy, Applied Skills, Evidence-based Teaching Practices