TLSS - Teaching and Learning Support Service

Dispute Resolution - Law / Conflict Resolution - Medicine

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Dispute Resolution – Law
Conflict Resolution – Medicine


CML 1106 is a required, first-year law course in a three-year law degree program offered in both French and English. There are approximately 210 students and 45 TAs in English and 55 students and 15 TAs in French. The course teaches law students how to work with clients to resolve disputes using non-litigation approaches. Because the underlying communication, problem-solving and negotiation skills are highly context-driven, they have been traditionally taught through highly experiential face-to-face interactive classroom activities. Students have very little previous knowledge or experience with alternative dispute resolution and the role of a lawyer and needed greater practice to be able to effectively apply the underlying skills in the classroom exercises. Integrating Web-based instruction supports the preferred traditional approach by using the Web-based activities for student preparation, experimentation, reinforcement and formative feedback both before and after classroom activities.

The design for the Faculty of Law was replicated for a project in the Faculty of Medicine. The French and English medical Web sites were produced to complement the two-day face-to-face conflict resolution workshops being taught collaboratively by faculty from both Law and Medicine to undergraduate medical students, residents, faculty, and administrative staff in the Faculty of Medicine. It is difficult for time-pressured medical professionals to schedule and attend lengthy, face-to-face training sessions. The two-day workshop provides an introduction to skills that mature over years of practice. The Web site was designed to increase access to training and improve the theory-practice transfer of knowledge and skills by providing additional application and reinforcement as well as a resource that could be consulted any time.

Screenshot of the course home page.

Instructional Challenge/Approach:

Instructional Challenge: The theoretical content consisted of page upon page of text. How could the pages of text that were required reading for the learner be adapted to a more interactive approach that would get the students engaged in the material while reinforcing the targeted skills?

Approach: A socio-constructivist approach is at the heart of this project which uses modular teaching in the online environment. The learner selects the order in which he/she completes the modules, which consist of targeted competencies, a theoretical section (content was broken up into short chunks of theory immediately followed by an application exercise and formative feedback), activity (application), further reflection and application sections. The Web-based materials can be used to either prepare learners to apply their online learning to interactive classroom activities or as a follow-up to reinforce and practice skills introduced in the classroom or through clinical experiences. Active learning like demonstrations, role plays, small-group work and discussions now make the best use of limited classroom time.

Budget (low/medium/high):

  • low - medium

Utilization of Multimedia (low/medium/high):

  • medium

Materials and Media Selected:

  • Concept maps
  • Case studies target multiple learning styles and, through the use of images, audio and video clips, add a human element and real-life perspective to the otherwise dry, theoretical aspects of the course. These clips also enable the learner to identify the body language and emotions that are not verbalized, but are crucial to identifying the positions and interests of the person involved in the conflict – the underlying theory used in this approach to alternative dispute resolution and conflict resolution.
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