Mock Trial Provides Foundational Learning Experience, High Point of Academic Experience at Ohio State

A mock trial is a dynamic learning exercise that utilizes interactive role play to engage students in collaborative, active learning.

Experiential learning is a critical component of sport management education, which was lacking within KNSISM 4607: Legal Aspects of Sport - a core course within the Sport Industry major. In 2018, the KNSISM instructors received a University Institute for Teaching and Learning (UITL) Research and Implementation Grant that provided them the motivation, resources, and support to integrate mock trials into the curriculum within the Sport Industry program.

"Developing our application for the UITL Research and Implementation Grant helped us approach the course design intentionally," says Leeann M. Lower-Hoppe, Drake Institute affiliate and assistant professor. "It allowed us to consider the targeted outcomes for the mock trial project and create a plan to assess the learning outcomes, project logistics, and students' affective experience."

Piloted in 2018 and successfully implemented in the spring and fall of 2019, grant funds were used to support data collection and analysis and the presentation of their findings at an international teaching and learning conference.

"Throughout the grant process, we were able to consult a UITL mentor who helped us refine our project idea, address issues with our project implementation, learn from our assessment data, and brainstorm future iterations of the project," Lower-Hoppe says.

The most exciting result was students reporting the application of the law to their daily lives, both in their present-day and future careers, as a learning outcome of participating in the mock trial project.

One student expressed a connection between their mock trial experience and their current on-campus job, saying, "All the knowledge that I learned definitely makes me less frustrated at work because I understand their entire point with the liability and the negligence stuff now. I first saw it as a nuisance, like why are they caring so much about something that's never going to happen, but now I'm scared of it too, so I'm more likely to take precautions."

This finding demonstrates the utility of mock trials to enhance students' translation of legal research and theory to practice.