Students’ emotions in clinical legal education: a study of the Helsinki Law Clinic

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Abstract

This article studies emotions of students in light of the concept of clinical legal education and its pedagogy. It takes as its case study the Helsinki Law Clinic. The study shows that emotions constitute an important aspect of academic learning and they often guide students through the learning experience. The design of the course and the scope of the teachers’ involvement have a significant impact on emotions experienced by students and, through these emotions, on students’ motivation. The study showed that students who struggle with group work most and have negative emotions towards the collaborative setting of the course exhibited a perfectionist attitude. Students who express a more positive attitude towards group work expressed greater emotional satisfaction with both the course and their own performance, and received better grades. Those students who have indicated orientation towards performance and stressed the importance of passing examinations were most dissatisfied with group work. These findings show the importance of the role of teachers in regulating students’ emotions through guiding their work and continuously explaining the purpose of clinical education as more oriented towards collaborative problem-solving and learning by doing rather than as an exam to be passed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)
JournalThe Law Teacher
Publication statusPublished - 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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