jurisprudence-newsletter2008-02-2.pdf - Jurisprudence February 2008 newsletter(2 Wayne Morrison A hint on examination preparation and is there any

jurisprudence-newsletter2008-02-2.pdf - Jurisprudence...

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Jurisprudence February 2008 newsletter (2) Wayne Morrison A hint on examination preparation: and is there any benefit in ‘model answers’, or ‘examplers’? We can not stress enough that one of the aims of university education is the development of argumentative skills. The examinations provide a time for performance, ideally a time where you engage with, and present arguments around, the issues underlying the key words of the questions set. In part examinations assess the ability to read and assimilate a range of complex material; the ability to distil ideas, concepts and lines of argument from that material, and the ability to create arguments addressed to examination questions under the stressful conditions of the examination room. University education in law does not encourage the memory testing of rote learning or the recital of prepared or model answers. But that does not mean that you would not gain from doing substantial essay assignments on the sorts of questions posed, structuring your material and perhaps using it in the examination. There is a role for memory work and for strategic planning. You know from the syllabus, the subject guide and from past years’ examination papers the topics and the sorts of questions that can be asked: you need to prepare a body of knowledge that you can use as ammunition in the battle of the examination. One key principle: examiners want to feel that the answer you give is yours, that you control the answer. Of course you are using the material of others, but how you blend that material, highlight the areas you take to be crucial is important. So let us look at the issue of ‘model answers’. Students sometimes ask us for more ‘model answers’ (this was asked in the 2006 students experience survey for example), but they misunderstand the role of model answers if they think that they should ‘copy’ out sections etc, instead we would prefer to provide ‘examplers’, that is real examples of essays or examination answers that displayed some of the characteristics that we are looking for. Take a past examination question: “Analyzing the content of John Austin’s theory of law can proceed without locating it within the historical and social conditions which give rise to it but appreciating the meaning of the theory cannot”. Discuss. The following is a real term essay that was part of the assessment process in one of the Colleges. The student began by quoting from a recommended text and then weaved an answer out of the limited range of recommended texts that showed the students essential control of the answer. Essay Answer: “[H]is ‘timeless’ concepts …. Are not formulated in isolation… Like most elements of normative legal theory they are conceptual reflections Of a particular time and place, transformed in a way that gives them the Potential to speak to other generations in other legal conditions.” 1 John Austin was born in a time and place that illuminated and informed his theory of jurisprudence.
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