Business Law classes go high-tech

By Cecilia Anthony Das & Alice Urud

Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak)’s Business Law 100 unit is one of the compulsory units for Year One students in commerce programmes at the university’s School of Business.

Indeed, the unit is a necessity for students pursuing business qualifications as it equips them with the basic knowledge and skills to deal with legal issues which they may someday face in their working lives.

Through the years, the unit has undergone a number of enhancements, the most recent being a revamp of its delivery.

In a significant shift from the conventional modes of teaching and assessment, delivery now incorporates a 3-hour seminar mode and utilises the latest technologies to encourage the tech-savvy Y-Generation students to be more engaged in classes.

This semester, electronic keypads were introduced for the first time for students to answer revision questions during classes.

Students can now answer questions privately and confidently using the keypads without having to face the possible humiliation of answering incorrectly in front of their peers, and hence a marked increase in student participation in class.

This also ensures that all students participate, which traditionally was not possible as only a selected few would volunteer to answer questions.
Besides the usage of keypads during classes, the assessment of the unit has also invariably been changed to further motivate students to be more engaged and involved in their studies.

The students are given news articles on certain legal issues extracted from the media and they are required to do media report analyses on their articles of choice.

These exercises require the students to identify the legal issues involved, to think critically and demonstrate how the principles of law would apply to such real life situations. It makes the students realise the practicability of law in their day-to-day activities.

The exercises are contextualised based on Malaysian news to provide the students intrinsically Malaysian examples of legal issues.

In another form of assessment, students are required to do simulated case studies online. The software used for these assessments is provided by ALC and Michael Lambiris, authors of the Source Book and Computer Based Tutorials, the text used for the Business Law 100 unit.

The students are presented with questions related to short case studies and have to choose the best outcome from the multiple choice answers for each question. Such assessments provoke the students’ thoughts to a given situation and come up with the best solution instead of just memorising and parroting answers in the test.

This form of assessment has been found to be very effective in developing critical and creative thinking in the students. A similar form of assessment will be adopted for their final exams.

The new approach to the unit is aimed at encouraging greater student participation during class, which in turn is expected to result in better performance from the students.

Overall, it has been very well received by the students who see it as a very novel and motivating approach to teaching and learning, and they have had no problems adapting.

The new methodologies and technologies has not posed much of a challenge to the teaching staff either as they have all been extensively tested and used at Curtin’s parent campus at Bentley in Perth.

More information on the Business Law 100 unit and the commerce programmes at Curtin Sarawak can be obtained from its website at www.curtin.edu.my or by contacting the university’s Marketing Department at +60 85 443 939.

Cecilia Anthony Das is the Postgraduate Coordinator for Curtin Sarawak’s School of Business and a lecturer in its Department of Accounting. She can be contacted at +60 85 443860 or by e-mail to cecilia.das@curtin.edu.my.

Alice Urud is a Business Law Lecturer in the Department of Accounting at the School of Business. She can be contacted at +60 85 443939 or by e-mail to alice.urud@curtin.edu.my.

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