By Lisa Elliott, Cengage Business Law Subject Matter Expert and Adjunct Instructor
As adjunct instructors, we often face a number of hurdles in preparing course materials. While students may enjoy the “war stories” of our daily lives practicing law (and most of us enjoy telling them), the actual course preparation and assessment questions must adhere to academic standards—and for those of us teaching at more than one school, we are often doubling the preparation effort.
Because I wear the hats of an adjunct instructor, lawyer, and internal subject matter expert at Cengage, I have unique insight into instructors’ need to find academically rigorous course material, the desire to bring the “real world” into the classroom, and the challenges of developing Business Law activities that will fit those expectations. It is with all those needs in mind that I created the Master Business Case.
Master Business Cases
Master Business Cases combine a robust fact pattern with five different activity types that can be implemented in the classroom—be it traditional, online, or hybrid. Right now, there are about 25 cases to choose from, each covering a different topic, but more are being added continually. Sign in to MindTap to look at a Master Business Case in MindTapv2 Business Law: Text and Exercises, 15e. The case on Negligence in part 1 is a favorite.
Included with the Master Business Cases are the following activities:
Five multiple-choice questions probe a student to review the facts, dig into their understanding of the law, and perform an analysis that demonstrates they not only understand the concepts presented but have mastered them. As a bonus to the instructor, these questions provide written feedback to the student explaining where they may have gone wrong in their analysis. (Seat time: 10 minutes)
Three to five open-ended questions designed to get a student engaged with the content that don’t require any advanced preparation (because let’s be honest, many times pre-class preparation falls short), but nonetheless create an investment of sorts in the storyline and the legal outcomes. Improve engagement remarkably by taking just a couple minutes off class time to introduce the scenario through these questions. (Seat time: 10 minutes)
Role Play/Group Work
This activity type is perfect for utilizing class time in a way that encourages active participation, developing communications skills and understanding how to plan and manage time. Through cooperative learning either in the classroom or using technology like Zoom rooms, students take on the position of various business roles and make complex decisions after evaluating all the potential legal, business, and ethical ramifications of that decision. (Seat time: 20 minutes)
Short Answer Essay
This is IRAC at its finest. Think of it as a shortened version of a law school exam. Although it only asks a student to write less than ten sentences (because grading a four-page essay for every student is the nightmare of all adjuncts), there will be no hiding when it comes to concept mastery. Students must reevaluate and synthesize all the information from the larger scenario and make their argument in an articulate and concise manner. (Seat time: 15 minutes)
Many universities require some component of ethics to be taught as part of coursework. This activity is designed to continually reinforce the idea that ethics is not simply one chapter in a textbook, but that ethical decisions are ever present in the business world. Whether studying intellectual property or administrative law, there are always ethical challenges to navigate. Through this shorter scenario (often building on the larger fact pattern), the open-ended question presented can be deployed either as an in-class discussion or as an independent writing assignment. (Seat time: 10 minutes)
The Master Business Case readings are found within MindTap. Because the cases are modularized, it is easy to adopt any number of them simply by turning each one “on” or “off.” Plus, except for the Multiple-Choice Questions that appear with the case in MindTap, the remaining activity types live in the Instructor Manual—allowing instructors to customize their discussions as desired without needing to make time-consuming technological changes.
Replicating the Real World
Perhaps the best thing I can say about using the Master Business Cases in a course, from the perspective of an adjunct, is that they are a ready-made solution. I can use the same business case in multiple ways to reinforce various concepts, and it allows students who have different learning styles to achieve at the highest level. The variety keeps learning fun, and the scenarios reflect the “real world” experience that draw in the students.
Want more tips for teaching Business Law? Read Max Chao’s blog post: 4 Tips for Making Business Law Relevant to Students.