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Speaking in the classroom: the impact of gender and affective responses on oral participation

Russell, Roseanne and Cahill-O'callaghan, Rachel ORCID: 2015. Speaking in the classroom: the impact of gender and affective responses on oral participation. The Law Teacher 49 (1) , pp. 60-72. 10.1080/03069400.2014.988459

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The Legal Education and Training Review (LETR) Report highlights development of oral communication skills as essential to a legal undergraduate education and one of the top 25 skills and attributes required by all legal service providers. One area in which these skills may be developed within the law school setting is group discussions, which form part of the small class tutorial. A significant body of literature (primarily drawn from the US experience) has, however, identified that female undergraduate students participate in law school class discussions less than male students, and respond to law school by experiencing greater feelings of alienation and loss of confidence than their male peers. Drawing on the themes identified in the US literature, this paper presents the findings of a small-scale empirical study into issues of oral participation in the small class setting involving final year undergraduate students in a UK law school. It reports two key findings. First, the most significant barrier to participation is a lack of confidence. Second, female students are more likely than male students to report considerable anxiety at participating orally in a tutorial setting. The paper posits that female students are more likely to experience a negative affective response to oral communication in a small group setting. Disconnecting the typical tutorial function of “knowledge-checking” from oral communication skills development may serve to encourage increased oral engagement in classroom discussions by every student.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Law
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 0306-9400
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2024 02:09

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