Back to Table of Contents for the On Course I Workshop

1. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: Criminal Law

Educator: Catherine K. Eloranto, J.D., Faculty, Criminal Justice, Clinton Community College, NY

Implementation: I wanted to have my Criminal Law students gain a more in-depth understanding of the trial process. I divided each class into teams of four. These teams are the ones who would either prosecute of defend a criminal case. Each team decided amongst themselves who would become the group’s expert in opening statements, direct examination, cross-examination, and closing arguments. The students were then placed into their “expert” groups: Opening, Direct, Cross, and Closing. These groups were told that for a period of two weeks, they were individually to find as much information as they could about what makes a good opening statement, etc. I gave them several suggested sources in the library and on-line, but I encouraged them to look for other sources. At the end of two weeks, they had to turn in a short paper on what they had learned. Then I gave them a class period to meet with their expert groups to talk about what they had learned and compile what they considered the most important information. Most were well prepared for their expert group meetings. In the next class period, they returned to their home groups and spent a class period teaching their specialty to their team members. We spent parts of several classes preparing for the trials that were conducted later in the semester. Once the trials were completed, I had the students fill out an anonymous evaluation of the entire project. Overwhelmingly, students found the “expert” groups very helpful in learning about their role in the trial. Most found being the “expert” on one of the roles was a very positive learning experience. For overall comments, students said,

  • I liked this project. It was educational and fun.
  • I really enjoyed this project. It allowed us a hands-on experience.
  • I guarantee everyone learned something positive from this experience.

Students also gave me good suggestions on how to improve the project. Their biggest complaint was really positive: They want the project to be more in depth.

2. Strategy: Wise Choice Process and Choices of Successful/Struggling Students

Application: Probation and Parole

Educator: David Terry, Faculty, Administration of Justice, San Joaquin Delta College, CA

Implementation: At the start of the semester, I issue handouts for both the Wise Choice Process and the Choices of Successful/Struggling Students and have students include these documents as part of their required notebook. We have a discussion about how the documents relate to their lives as students and how they can apply them to achieve more learning and better grades. After about a month into the course, I begin to introduce students to the process used to evaluate and grant probation and parole to offenders. Then I ask students to incorporate both On Course documents into their evaluation and granting process, applying what they have learned to various case studies. I look for two outcomes: 1) the development of an evaluation/granting process for probation and parole and 2) collateral learning of how to construct and evaluate decisions/choices students make in their own lives.

3. Strategy: Jigsaw

Application: Criminal Law and Criminal Defenses

Educator: Jennifer Allen, Faculty, Criminal Justice and Paralegal, Davidson County Community College, NC

Implementation: Learning Outcome: Students will apply appropriate defenses to fact situations.
Day 1: Divide students into home groups of 4 and have the members choose one of the following criminal defenses on which they will be an expert: A) Duress, B) Entrapment C) Insanity (M’Naghten) and D) Diminished Capacity. Experts have until the next class to prepare by 1) Reading the text for statutes and cases in North Carolina, 2) finding at least one reputable site on the Internet that explains the defense, summarize the information, citing the source, and explaining reasons to believe the source is reputable, and 3) finding either an actual case or an article about a case where the defense was used, explaining the case and stating whether the defense was successful.
Day 2: Experts confer to compare information and write 5 multiple choice or true/false questions about the defense, which they submit to the instructor. Experts go back to home team and share what they learned on their own and from the other experts.
Day 3: Start the class by using clickers to let students answer the questions generated by the expert teams.

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