Session 5C | Paper 1 Groupwork in MS teams channels: supporting socialised learning for legal skills in the covid-19 pandemic classroom

Professor Elaine Fahey


Existing literature on groupwork predates COVID-19 and focusses much upon group management and interaction and its benefits (Bennet and Dunne, 1992; Astin, 1997; Tinto, 1998; National Survey of Student Engagement, 2006). Much literature focuses upon the social advantages of groupwork skills for professionalisation but less so those socially disadvantaged and the use of technology to mitigate the disadvantage (Caruso & Woolley, 2008; Mannix & Neale, 2005). The COVID-19 pandemic operated to place all learning fully online and fully digitised. The fully online pedagogic model evolved existing distance learning practices and normalised the development of legal skills education online.  Existing literature on social disadvantage in pedagogy and higher education has focussed little upon legal education where the development of soft skills and practical competence based social skills e.g. advocacy or group advocacy, can operate as a significant barrier to development through a lack of confidence or capacity. COVID-19 as a pandemic has equalised society on a superficial level placing education fully online and fully digitised mostly. However, evidence suggests technological barriers, inadequate supports and a lack of education space at home have inhibited learning and the theoretical sameness of the all-digital environment. The paper focuses upon legal education at City in its context as the 6th largest law school in the UK, with one of the highest BAME demographics of the London University of London Law Schools, with above average entry tariffs but a significant cohort of socio-economic disadvantage. The casestudy considers the use of MS teams channels as a platform for students to engage in socialised interactions and to develop their soft skills in group work. It considers the place of exclusion in the digital environment and focusses upon legal education the place of advocacy skills and barriers to their development and means to support channel interactions.

Slides from the session

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Recording of the session:


Astin, A. (1993). What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bennet N., Dunne E. (1992).Managing Classroom Groups. Hemel Hempstead: Simon & Schuster Education

Blatchford P., Kutnick P., Baines E., Galton M. (2003).Toward a social pedagogy of classroom group work.  J. Educ. Res. 39 153–172

Caruso, H.M., & Wooley, A.W. (2008). Harnessing the power of emergent interdependence to promote diverse team collaboration. Diversity and Groups. 11, 245-266.

Mannix, E., & Neale, M.A. (2005). What differences make a difference? The promise and reality of diverse teams in organizations. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 6(2), 31-55.

National Survey of Student Engagement Report. (2006).

Tinto, V. (1987). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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