Learning Objectives for Law Firm Research Training

With the annual Edmonton Law Libraries Association Head Start program coming up in a few of weeks, and the start date of our incoming articling students just around the corner, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about learning objectives.

For Head Start, the two day legal research seminar that local law librarian volunteers have been offering in Edmonton since 2002, the learning objectives are pretty clear. By the end of the two day session students should be able to:

  • Identify whether legislation on a topic exists provicially or federally using primary and secondary sources
  • Identify in force dates for legislation
  • Note up legislation for history and judicial consideration
  • Identify and use appropriate texts, journals, and other secondary research sources and apply those tools to answer specific legal research questions
  • Be familiar with a variety of legal research sources (CanLII, LexisNexis Quicklaw, Maritime Law Book’s National Reporter System, Westlaw Canada, and others)
  • Be aware of the facility and services offered by the Alberta Law Libraries

In our specific firm environment, knowing that our Field students attend Head Start and that they are all smart and will achieve the above learning objectives, what is left?

At present our in house learning objectives for legal research are specific to the tools we offer. For example:

Labour Spectrum – Students at Field should know:

  • What research sources are encompassed within Labour Spectrum
  • The types of questions using this tool will help to answer
  • How to search, download, and print efficiently
  • Cost/time effective use of the product
  • Other sources in our collection that should be used in addition to Labour Spectrum
  • When not to use Labour Spectrum

This learning objective approach to legal research training program planning feels very pedagogical, but it also allows for some reflection and measurement of the research training offerings. For instance, does the resource choosing Jeopardy game we have developed meet the criteria of the learning objectives for one or more sources? Is it more appropriate to bring in a vendor trainer for a particular product, and if so, what learning objectives will the library staff have to cover or reinforce?

I am very curious to see if other organizations use learning objective criteria as explicilty as I describe to define their research training programs. I look forward to your comments.

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