G. Data Needs and Ongoing Research

AuthorRebecca Purdom - Greg Brandes - Karen Westwood
Appendix G
Data Needs and Ongoing Research
Report of Working Group’s Research Committee as of May, 2015
During the inaugural meeting of the Working Group, participants generated a range of practical and
theoretical questions. In subsequent meetings, a subcommittee identified three themes on which to
Learning Outcomes
The first theme, evident in several of the original questions, concerns the outcome variables that should be
measured to determine the effectiveness of distance learning. Although this question is of practical
concern for any educator it is also a towering theoretical challenge. Are we interested in retention,
knowledge of rules, problem-solving ability, or critical thinking? Are there aspects of legal education that
make this question more difficult to answer? Are there moderating variables that influence any outcome
variables (i.e., engagement; attention; sociality)? What is the best method to identify the outcome
variables from the outset (i.e., current academic literature; consensus; Delphi; guidelines)?
Best Practices
The second theme concerns more practical issues: How can we identify distance learning experts in legal
education? What do those experts identify as "best practices"? How can we survey those experts to
develop criteria, gain consensus, and identify points of convergence and divergence? What challenges do
they experience? What are the barriers that key stakeholders (i.e. gatekeepers) identify in the use of
distance learning?
Survey of Distance Learning Activity in Legal Education
The third theme is concerned with creating a "census" of distance learning activities in legal education
and describing their characteristics. In order to develop best practices and facilitate research, those closely
involved in distance learning in legal education need to be able to recognize each other. Which schools
are offering distance learning programs and courses? What are the characteristics of those distance
learning activities? Are some subjects and topics offered via distance learning programs more frequently
than others? What factors facilitate or inhibit the development of distance learning programs?

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