Workshop on “How students learn and how we can help them learn”
11th to 15th of December, 2017

A Teaching Learning workshop for undergraduate and postgraduate teachers was conducted by St. Joseph’s College of Law, Bangalore, in collaboration with Seattle University, from the 11th through the 15th of December, 2017. The workshop was simply yet effectively titled “How students learn and how we can help them learn”. Professors Laurel Oates and Mimi Samuel, Professors at the School of Law, Seattle University were the facilitators of the workshop and brought to the table rich experiences from their association with the Legal writing program at Seattle University, a program that has been consistently ranked number 1 in the US. Professor Oates, besides her vast experience in teaching and practicing law, is also the co-author of multiple textbooks and also has training in Educational Psychology. Prof Samuel is the associate director of the Lawyering skills program at Seattle University and both of them have taught courses and workshops for judges, attorneys, teachers and students across the US, Asia and Africa. Participants of the workshops were drawn from government and private law colleges across Bangalore and faculty members from other disciplines in Jesuit institutions in South India.

A brief inaugural session marked the beginning of the workshop. Fr. Swebert D’Silva, Director of St. Joseph’s College of Law welcomed the audience and spoke about Jesuit institutions aiming to provide reflective teaching learning experiences and how pedagogy should enable this. Prof. Babu Mathew, Senior founding member of NLSIU and Country Director of Action Aid was the key note speaker of the inaugural session. Prof Mathew shared his thoughts on the approaches for more effective teaching-learning. His talk was peppered with examples and anecdotes from his long and illustrious teaching career and was engaging and thought provoking. Dr. Cheriyan Alexander, Head of the Department of English at St. Joseph’s College proposed the vote of thanks.

Over the five days, the workshop focused on the following: what is the research on effective teaching-learning, demonstrations and discussions about different teaching methods, and the opportunity for participants to examine course/class objectives and experience different teaching techniques.

The workshop progressed through different types of mindsets and how that affects how we teach and students learn, ‘teaching for transfer’: how we can teach so that students can apply their learning, establishing both course objectives, class objectives and how to draft course objectives in line with Bloom’s taxonomy. The various sessions of the five day workshop were primarily centered around the themes, “The least and the most effective learning strategies, assessment of student learning, passive and active learning, effective teaching methods”. The workshop also dealt with questions regarding teaching professionalism, values and ethics to students. At the end of the workshop participants were given an opportunity to design and present a sample class.

Participants were exposed to various teaching techniques: lectures, small group discussions, structured discussions, unstructured discussions, reading assignments and modeling. Discussions on all topics were very engaging and served the purpose of reinforcing effective teaching learning methods, but also often challenged our understanding of what effective teaching learning entails. The workshop gave participants the opportunity to reflect on their learning.

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