Crowley-Cyr, Lynda (2008) Reflexive professionals or disempowered technicians? A case study of the risks of McLearning in a regional law school. Journal of the Australasian Law Teachers Association, 1 (1/2). pp. 299-311. ISSN 1836-5612
A guiding thought for me, as a legal ethics teacher in a tertiary institution in the 21st century, is that ethics is like a slow release fertiliser; it must be introduced slowly. Too much too fast can be harmful. If introduced slowly and consistently, however, its nourishing benefits can be lasting and visible.
In 2006, at the James Cook University Vice Chancellor's Teaching and Learning Symposium on Assessment and Feedback, keynote speaker Richard James from the Centre for Studies in Higher Education at the University of Melbourne and principal author of the influential book Assessing Learning in Universities spoke of the disempowerment of students in assessment in university courses. The message was clear. While assessment is a highly influential force on students’ choice in terms of which subjects to undertake as part of their university learning experience, student input in terms of setting and developing assessment is generally excluded. This paper offers a case study of a trial, in a professional legal ethics subject, to use assessment as a vehicle for student empowerment in order to enhance and promote reflexive professionalism. The response by students was surprising. The experience stimulated some observations about changes in higher education within present-day modernity.
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