Experiential Learning (10mins)

In Experiential Learning, Legal Education, Teacher resources by Peter Sankoff2 Comments

In this video blog, I turn my attention to the teaching experience and, in particular, how it is possible to integrate experiential learning into your law seminar.  I also talk about the benefits of doing so, drawing upon my experience teaching animals and the law.


  1. Danielle,

    Thanks so much for your comment and your positive thoughts. I wish I had easy answers. There are many impediments to getting change at law schools. Some professors don’t want to change the way they teach. Others do, but resist for a variety of reasons. The biggest commonality between these two factors is the lack of incentives for changing. Not only are most of us provided with no incentive to innovate our teaching methods, we are actually PUNISHED, at least indirectly, for doing so. Frankly, it’s a terrible system, but it is the university system we live in today. Most universities, and law schools especially, preach about the importance of teaching. But I can tell you that teaching is probably the lowest priority in advancement, promotion, hiring and receiving acclaim. Until this changes, innovations will be limited to a few innovators who care more about teaching than their own career prospects, and to senior people (like me) who no longer need to worry about promotion.

    Students play a role in this, unfortunately. Too many are themselves not supportive of innovation, finding that any departure from the “tried and true” method of instruction is something to be avoided. Just go look at some of the evaluations I’ve gotten on ratemyprofessor dot com. They are hardly representative of the overall results I’ve had, but nonetheless, they are LOUD! You are correct, however, that most students just don’t know any differently, which is a huge shame. I think students need to place real pressure on the institution and ask for more attention to be paid to learning models. Any way this can happen would be an improvement.

    I doubt that provides you with real answers, but it is worth a shot.

    Finally, I’ve been bugging some of my friends at TRU to get me over there so I can talk about the flipped classroom with the profs. It hasn’t happened, but I’m very eager to visit, so perhaps you can push for a visit so that I can explain how it works, and why it works.


  2. Hi Peter,

    Great video. I saw you speak in our Lawyering in the 21st Century class at TRU taught by Katie Sykes. I think your novel teaching strategy is innovative and is something that students would prefer over the typical structure. I think this based on the number one complaint that we don’t receive enough practical experience in law school.

    As you are aware, it is difficult to get professors to change their teaching methods. Our written class evaluations are riddled with these concerns but seem to go unaddressed. Furthermore, most students cannot imagine the lectures taught any other way. Many believe that this is just how law school goes.

    Is there anything we can do, in your opinion, as students to invoke this shift? Perhaps if the student body created capsules similar to those for your evidence class and held problem solving drills outside of class, the demand for this teaching style would increase?

    I’d appreciate your thoughts. This is something that I would love to see happen at TRU.

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