Flipping the Constitutional Law Classroom: Engaging First Year Law Students in Active Learning

Flipping the Constitutional Law Classroom: Engaging First Year Law Students in Active Learning

Julia L. Ernst (University of North Dakota, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4987-3.ch015
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Abstract

This chapter explores the initial methods used in developing a flipped classroom model for a first-year Constitutional Law course in a law school setting. It explores this topic from a very preliminary perspective, revealing the thought process and creation of the newly revamped class at the beginning stages, before the model has been implemented in the classroom. This work arises out of a successful proposal that the author submitted to the University of North Dakota’s Office of Instructional Development seeking a Summer Instructional Development Project (SIDP) grant. The SIDP award has enabled the author to begin the endeavor of flipping the classroom in Constitutional Law, which will be implemented when the course is offered in the spring semester of 2014.
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Impetus And Rationale For Flipping Constitutional Law

As noted above, I received a Summer Instructional Development Project grant to overhaul my Constitutional Law course that law students take during the first year of their legal education. This transformation coincides with other major changes within the legal program of study at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Law. The law school is currently undertaking a significant restructuring of our first year law school curriculum, in order to make the experience more relevant and meaningful for our students. Like many other law schools across the country, all law students at UND take the same set of courses throughout their first year, with Lawyering Skills taught in three smaller sections with about 28 students each, and the rest of the courses taught in one large section with about 85 students. Through the spring of 2013, the first year courses included Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, Property I & II, Torts I & II, Contracts I & II, and Constitutional Law I & II. The faculty at the law school is developing a revamped first year curriculum, in part by adding an innovative new spring semester course called Professional Foundations, and by condensing Property into a one-semester course taught in the fall. Also as part of this restructuring, we are moving Constitutional Law I from the fall semester to the spring semester of the first year, and moving Constitutional Law II from the spring semester of the first year to the fall semester of the second year. Moreover, we are changing Constitutional Law I from a two-credit course to a three-credit course.

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