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Developing Effective Study Groups. Working Collaboratively. The Purposes of a Study Group Are:. To clarify information To apply legal knowledge and reasoning to factual situations To test understanding through discussion and debate within the group.

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Developing effective study groups

Developing Effective Study Groups

Working Collaboratively


The purposes of a study group are
The Purposes of a Study Group Are:

  • To clarify information

  • To apply legal knowledge and reasoning to factual situations

  • To test understanding through discussion and debate within the group.

  • To practice writing exam questions.

  • To give and receive feedback on practice exam answers.


The purpose of a study group is not
The Purpose of a Study Group Is NOT:

  • To do the kind of internal review and processing that is best done independently

  • To assign an outline to one member of the group for each class.

  • To avoid work by talking about it rather than doing it!


How to form a study group
How to Form a Study Group

  • Seek 2 or 3 others

    • Clarify goals about study groups activities

    • Clarify time commitments

    • Choose members on the basis of common goals and commitment to those goals.

  • Do NOT form study groups primarily on the basis of friendship, similarity of thinking, or political conviction.

  • All forms of diversity benefit the whole study group


Guidelines for forming study groups
Guidelines for Forming Study Groups:

  • Rotate leadership

    • Role of leader is to involve all participants in discussion

  • Set purpose and goals for the group.

    • What types of activities does the group find most helpful?

    • What do we expect the group to accomplish?

  • At the end of each meeting set an agenda for the next meeting to help members focus and prepare


Timing issues
Timing Issues

  • Establish set meeting times and expectations.

  • Stick to a set time schedule.

    • Make ending times clear.

    • Schedule follow-up meetings, but don’t exceed time limits.


Natural learning cycles input process output
Natural Learning Cycles:Input – Process - Output

  • Input:

    • Gather information by:

      • Reading, listening, discussing, reviewing, etc.

  • Process:

    • Internal:

      • Contexting, organizing, and storing information for future use

  • Output:

    • Apply to new situations

      • Plan, talk, write

  • Feedback/Revisions


Hypo jane steve and the 60 tickets
Hypo:Jane, Steve, and the $60 Tickets

Jane, a huge Hawkeye fan, was tailgating before the big Iowa-Michigan game and began complaining that she didn’t have a ticket.  Her friend Steve said he knew a guy, “Sam the Scalper,” who might sell Jane a decent seat for $50.  Jane told Steve that it sounded like a good deal, but said it might be hard to find her among the 80,000 people wandering around Kinnick.  Steve said, “Nah, that’s no problem; I can try to find Sam.” Jane laughed as she said, “Well, I guess if that all worked out, I would owe you a turkey leg.” Steve disappeared into the crowd and Jane returned to discussing the merits of the Hawkeyes’ special teams.

A few minutes later, Jane was wandering around on Melrose Ave looking to buy a turkey leg for herself and  ran into a scalper offering to sell a ticket for a seat on the 50 yard line, 10 rows up, for $45. Jane could hardly pass up this deal, so she bought the ticket and a turkey leg.  When Jane got back to the tailgate, Steve was there with a ticket that he had bought from his scalper friend, but unfortunately it had cost him $60 instead of $50.  After explaining this to Jane, he held out the ticket and reached for the turkey leg. Jane jerked the leg away. In the heated conversation that followed, Jane refused to hand over the turkey leg and refused to pay Steve for the ticket, saying that she had never agreed to buy a ticket from Sam; she had only commented that buying a ticket from Sam “sounded like a good deal.”  Jane also claimed that Steve told her the ticket would be $50 and not $60, so she never actually agreed to buying a ticket at that price. 

  • From the perspective of contract law, who is in the right, Jane or Steve?


Make a study group
Make a study group:

  • Please count off!

  • 1

  • 2

  • 3

  • 4

  • 5

  • . . .


Questions to guide analysis
Questions to Guide Analysis

  • Should this problem be analyzed under the UCC or the common law?

  • If Jane and Steve had a contract, was it a bilateral contract or a unilateral contract? If the facts leave this question open, how would a court resolve it?

  • If it was a bilateral contract, what was the offer and what was the acceptance? (Could Jane’s silent acquiescence as Steve left constitute her acceptance?)

  • If it was a unilateral contract, did Steve’s looking for Sam constitute partial performance? If so, how does that matter?

  • What were the terms of the contract? Were they clear enough to be enforceable? Might Jane and Steve have had a (“Type II”) “agreement to agree”? If so, with what consequences?

  • Could Jane make a R2d § 16 argument?

  • Could Jane make an argument about the duration of her (alleged) offer?

  • Could Jane argue that Steve merely offered to do her a favor, and she joked about a favor in return? Or can people discuss an exchange of favors without creating a K?

  • Advanced question: If there was no K, what other arguments could Steve make to recover all or part of the $60?

  • Advanced question: If there was a K, what arguments could Jane make to minimize or eliminate her damages?


Agenda choices
Agenda Choices

  • Focus in meeting – Make conscious choices:

    • One subject or more than one each meeting

    • Stick to set subject or jump to course that provides current confusion

  • Type of Focus

    • Oral discussion

    • Writing problems

      • Remember that you get good at skills you practice and the exam is a written exercise!

      • Try individually writing answers to a hypo and then trading answers.

      • Construct a group answer pulling the best from each answer.

      • Creating hypos is an excellent exercise for groups and for individuals to bring to the group.

  • Take turns explaining and questioning


Tasks change over the semester
Tasks Change Over the Semester

  • Beginning groups commonly clarify class notes, and quickly move to applying what they are learning to test their understanding.

  • Don’t put off planning and writing practice problems

    • Easier to understand material by using concrete examples

    • Try to create hypos in your group – then vary the facts and see if or how that changes your analysis

  • Organize materials individually, but:

    • Test your organizing by using your system in writing answers to hypos

    • Trade answers, read, critique, discuss, and improve

  • Before exams groups often meet frequently to do practice questions.


Study groups
Study Groups

Try them!