Teaching and Learning Forum

Ms Julie Clarke

Ms Julie Clarke



Position:
Lecturer

Faculty: Business and Law
School: School of Law
Discipline: Law

Campus: Waurn Ponds, Geelong
Phone: +61 3 522 72742
Email: julie.clarke@deakin.edu.au

 

 

"I have a passion for the areas of law I teach. Passing that on to others is what motivates me."

A Unit Chair and Lecturer in the School of Law, Ms Julie Clarke joined Deakin in 2001 after working as a researcher at the Victorian Court of Appeal and completing her articles of clerkship with a major Melbourne law firm.

Motivation

Julie’s motivation as an educator is to pass on her passion for her subject to future legal practitioners. She enjoys the opportunity to immerse herself in her interests through a combination of research and teaching. As a teacher, her goal is to provide students with a learning experience that is challenging but enjoyable and which is responsive to individual needs. To achieve this, she focuses on giving materials clarity and structure and enthusiastically approaches lectures and interaction with students.

Approaches and methods

Responsiveness, relevance and flexibility are the key to Julie’s approach. These, in her experience, drive innovation. To engage students, Julie provides an interactive lecture and tutorial environment and an eager approach to student queries, both in person and on Deakin Studies Online (DSO).

In a professional program such as law, content relevance is critical. As future practitioners, students need to be able to place legal principles into a real-world context. Julie adopts a Socratic method which stimulates students to think about and discuss material in a simulated legal environment. She links current news items to course materials, where possible, and uses realistic hypotheticals to which students can readily relate.

Julie teaches students from a range of backgrounds at first year and senior levels, in face to face and wholly online modes. In responding to differing student educational needs and backgrounds as well as variations in content delivery, Julie has developed a flexible and adaptive approach to her teaching practice. She recognises the special needs of first year students unfamiliar with legal analysis and the much greater experience—both educationally and often through practical experience in a legal environment—of senior students, and customises her approach accordingly. Julie is also increasingly tailoring her approach to teaching off-campus students, customising audio recordings and taking into account the variety of experiences they bring to their studies.

In a wholly online unit, Competition Law and Policy, Julie adopts a range of measures to convey information and enthusiasm for the subject matter, including:

  • highly responsive use of DSO discussion forums (checking discussions daily)
  • providing materials in a range of formats to cater for different learning techniques and levels of internet access
  • self-tests which enable students to assess their understanding of material at their own pace
  • a ‘news items’ bulletin which informs students of current developments in the field and provides examples of real life application of the relevant law.

Students have responded well to these measures. The unit was the highest Student Evaluation of Teaching and Unit (SETU) rated unit within the School of Law in semester 2, 2007.

While flexibility is critical in terms of teaching practice, Julie has found that students respond positively to structure and predictability in relation to course materials, as this helps planning for study time. She makes sure that DSO discussion areas are carefully structured from the outset and that material is available at agreed times.

Audio Icon Audio clip: Julie Clarke on teaching a wholly online unit

Enhancing teaching

Passion for her subject has led Julie’s teaching to improve over time. A desire to share her enthusiasm with her students has seen her increasingly cater for different learning styles, use real life examples and experiment with new ways to deliver resources using emerging technology.

To continue to enhance her teaching, Julie responds to student feedback and has found that SETU evaluations have evolved with her teaching over time. A number of past students retain contact, sharing their experiences in practice and often recounting how their studies have assisted them in their working lives.

Julie also enhances her teaching by speaking to other academics about their teaching experiences.

Research and teaching

For Julie, the teaching and research nexus largely lies in the constant discipline research that informs her teaching. Review of literature about different teaching methodologies also informs her practice. Julie has used the teaching award money she received in 2008 to fund conference attendance to develop knowledge of her discipline and to meet with academics from other institutions to discuss teaching practices.

Leadership

Areas of teaching and learning in which Julie is taking a leadership role include:

  • curriculum development. She was instrumental in modernisation of the practical legal skills component of the Bachelor of Laws program.
  • wholly online unit policy development
  • first year interactive teaching and online teaching of law.

Qualifications

  • BA LLB (Hons) [Deakin]

Awards/fellowships

2008

  • Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching
  • Deakin University Award for Teaching ExcellencePublications

Publications

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29th July 2010