Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Game: A Business Law Class Competition

Academic journal article Academy of Educational Leadership Journal

The Game: A Business Law Class Competition

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

In recent years, business law and legal environment instructors have left the comforts of the traditional lecture-based style of teaching to explore a variety of innovative teaching techniques that emphasize student experiential learning. These include writing exercises in which students take a few minutes before the end of class to jot down reflections about what they have learned in class that day (Sparrow, 2001), simulations in which students use role playing to understand the relationship between legal concepts and procedures (Corrada, 1996), and games in which students answer substantive law questions in an activity modeled after a popular game show (Rosato, 1995).

There are several reasons for this pedagogical transition from purely lecture-based teaching. Studies have shown that certain students are more motivated to learn when they are active participants in the educational process. (Rosato, 1995) The students attend class more frequently when there are course activities that must be done in class. (Friedman, Rodriguez & McComb, 2001) Perhaps, most importantly, through learner-centered activities, students can practice such necessary business skills as resource management, interpersonal communication, information management, systems management, and the use of technology. (Kendall, 1999) "Practical learning enables young people to enter the world of work with the confidence to tackle everyday problems." (Powell, 2005) Given the positive response of students to these alternative student-centered teaching methods, it should come as no surprise that students categorize teachers as "best" or "worst" based in part on whether the professor utilizes a variety of teaching methods. (Brown & Tomlin, 1996)

One way to think (and teach) outside of the traditional teaching box is to incorporate into business law and legal environment courses (referred to hereinafter as legal studies courses) a content-based, semester-long learning activity called THE GAME. Similar to a board game or quiz show in which participants must perform various tasks and answer questions in order to outsmart each other and be declared the winner, THE GAME motivates students to seek knowledge, document their work, strategize, and cooperate as a team in a way that reflects real life business challenges. And, as in real life, THE GAME also teaches that, despite a person's best efforts, the results may not be as anticipated, and the expected rewards may not materialize.

The instructor's goals of THE GAME are to encourage students to (1) read their textbooks and supplemental materials in preparation for class; (2) work together as accountable team players within an organized structure; (3) use web-based technology to research assigned problems and communicate among the team members to formulate solutions; (4) follow the technical rules of THE GAME as carefully as businesses are required to follow statutes and agency regulations; and (5) keep a detailed record of their activities by means of a LOGBOOK.

THE GAME is designed so that its implementation and administration will not suffer from the negative aspects of most experiential learning activities, such as the sacrifice of substantive learning time, administrative headaches, and unrealistic teacher preparation requirements. (Dallas, 1995) In fact, experience gained over several years with both undergraduates and graduates showed that THE GAME worked best when the instructor allowed the teams to manage themselves and develop their own style of learning.

DESCRIPTION OF THE GAME

An Overview

Student teams will draw at random a card which will assign a task to be performed. This is accomplished by the instructor's preparation of five playing-card-sized index cards which either assign a legal research project, or require the team to create or to answer questions regarding assigned reading materials, or present other options. …

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