COLLABORATIVE CRITICAL THINKING EXERCISES FOR BUSINESS LAW

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COLLABORATIVE CRITICAL THINKING EXERCISES FOR BUSINESS LAW
STUDENTS
by
Lynn M. Forsythe, Ida M. Jones, and Deborah J. Kemp1
I. INTRODUCTION
Three business law/legal environment professors have taken a collaborative approach to
developing common assignments for introductory level business law courses.2
Our premise is
two-fold: case problem analysis promotes critical thinking and critical thinking is best developed
through collaborative activities. Many AACSB accredited schools and U.S. universities in
general make critical thinking a primary learning outcome or objective. Also, many extol the
advantages of team based or collaborative learning. The value of collaborative learning was
illustrated in the scene from the Apollo 13 movie that captured the NASA engineers and
scientists being told to build an oxygen delivery system from the odds and ends on the
spacecraft, which they did successfully.3
While business schools do not train NASA engineers,
they train people to make crucial and well informed business decisions, often using the same
critical thinking and collaborative problem solving approaches used by engineers. In the legal
discipline, case problems are commonly used to teach both the substantive or topical area and to
help students engage in critical thinking through legal reasoning. “Case studies are often used in
business law classes … to help students identify and analyze real business problems.”4
Many business schools that offer multiple sections of the required introductory courses are
increasingly utilizing practicing attorneys as part time instructors to teach them.5
These
practicing attorneys generally have little time or incentive to learn how to instill critical thinking
© Lynn M. Forsythe, Ida M. Jones, Deborah J. Kemp, 2013. The authors grant permission to use the case problems
with proper attribution.
1 The authors are professors of Business Law, Craig School of Business, California State University, Fresno. Dr.
Jones is Director, Center for the Scholarly Advancement of Learning and Teaching; Verna Mae and Wayne D.
Brooks Professor of Business Law. Dr. Kemp is Craig Faculty Fellow 2011-2013. 2 For purposes of this article, the distinctions between business law and legal environment courses and faculty are
not significant. Hereafter the authors will use business law in its generic sense, e.g., to refer to faculty who teach
legal concepts to business students. See Carol J. Miller & Susan J. Crane, Legal Environment v. Business Law
Course: A Distinction Without a Difference?, 28 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 149, 151-62, 100-203 (2011) for an in-depth
discussion of the differences between the two approaches. Miller and Crane also discuss the fact that the label for a
given course may not accurately reflect the type of course or the approach taken in teaching the course. 3 See Square Peg in a Round Hole (1995), Apollo 13 (7/11) MOVIECLIP, YOUTUBE (published Jan. 16, 2011), at
(last visited Apr. 17, 2013). 4 Tammy W. Cowart & Wade M. Chumney, I Phone, You Phone, We All Phone with iPhone: Trademark Law and
Ethics from an International and Domestic Perspective, 28 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 331, 332 (2011). 5 See Deploying Professionally Qualified Faculty: An Interpretation of AACSB Standards, AN AACSB WHITE
PAPER ISSUED BY AACSB INTERNATIONAL ACCREDITATION COORDINATING COMMITTEE AACSB INTERNATIONAL
ACCREDITATION QUALITY COMMITTEE, 1 (January 2006), revised February 2008 & March 2009, at
http://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/papers/DeployingProfessionallyQualifiedFaculty.pdf (last visited Apr. 17, 2013)
(“the growing importance of professionally qualified faculty in light of the pending shortage of doctorally qualified
faculty….”)
1
skills in business students on their own.
6
As discussed later, our collaborative approach to
course design provides an opportunity for full and part time faculty to work together to promote
critical thinking. Through this collaborative design, we can assure that all the students in the
introductory course are exposed to some critical thinking and collaborative learning activities.
Collaborative design has the additional benefit of minimizing any sacrifice of educational
freedom, especially since, as we’ve collaborated, we’ve found that, as with students, three minds
are better than one when writing and thinking about analytical problem solving generally.
Consequently, we developed common case problem assignments that, if adopted, assure that
students are experiencing some consistent critical thinking practice in all the sections of the
course. We want to ensure that no matter which of seven instructors the student takes the course
from, the student will experience similar academic rigor, consistency of performance evaluation,
and explicit development of critical thinking skills. In addition, we introduced problem solving
activities using humorous and simple problems so that students could feel motivated and
empowered to continue developing their critical thinking skills through successful experiences in
their introductory coursework.
The case problems with accompanying teaching notes are included in the Appendix. The format
of the case problems accommodates our various methods for introducing structured critical
thinking to the introductory students, including using the IRAC method and briefing cases to see
how judges problem solve. Each of us use different techniques to help students learn, including
use of case briefing assignments, the use of the IRAC method of case problem analysis, research
projects, and more. Through our collaborative efforts we have made progress toward our goals
of increased rigor, consistency and creating cases that explicitly require students to engage in
critical thinking activities. We have done so in a way that preserves academic freedom and
individuality in course design and implementation.
In the next section we have identified the key components of critical thinking and problem
solving analysis. We also reviewed some common sense and observational data as well as some
law and education scholarship on the benefits of collaborative learning. In addition, through this
effort, we have experienced the benefits of our own collaborative work. This paper presents the
results of our collaborative work in writing and sharing case problems for our classrooms. Part
II summarizes and compares some scholarship on critical thinking and collaborative learning in
the business law field. Part III summarizes the collaborative nature of the course redesign
process. In the Appendix we share the case problems, teaching notes, and advice on how to
utilize them.
II. CRITICAL THINKING AND COLLABORATIVE LEARNING
A. Critical Thinking
6 Most of these practitioners experienced the socratic method with varying degrees of success when they were law
students. The question has been raised whether law schools do an adequate job of teaching critical thinking. See,
e.g, Christine M. Venter, “Analyze this: Using Taxonomies to Scaffold Students’ Legal Thinking and Writing
Skills,” Working Paper, Berkeley Electronic Press (bepress) Legal Series, Year 2005, Paper 757,
http://law.bepress.com/expresso/eps/757 (last visited Feb. 22, 2013).
2
Critical thinking is a common learning outcome or learning goal embraced by many universities.
While many are acknowledging and even mandating that our schools concentrate more on
teaching critical thinking, the advice or mandate is not always accompanied with an explanation
of just what is critical thinking. Clearly it is not the same across all disciplines, but there is a
core definition that is fairly universal. First we explore what critical thinking means in the law
and business context. Second, we analyze how the case problems we have agreed to use in our
introductory business law course provide critical thinking practice for business students.
1. What is Critical Thinking?
“Critical thinking is the process of reacting with systematic evaluation to what one reads and
hears; this system for conducting evaluation consists of a set of interrelated questions that critical
thinkers should be able and eager to ask and answer at appropriate times.”7
“[An] important aspect of our work is to help students learn how to acquire knowledge that
ultimately may exceed our own, to apply it in efficient and reasonable ways, and to adjust and
grow when knowledge becomes outmoded and new needs for application emerge.”8
As previously noted, although there is nearly unanimous agreement in higher education that
critical thinking is a key learning outcome,9 it is not always clear just what is meant by critical
thinking. Additionally, the concept may vary from one discipline to another. Many AACSB
accredited business programs, including the Craig School of Business at California State
University, Fresno, identify students engaging in critical thinking as a learning goal or learning.10
Numerous business law/legal environment scholars have discussed critical thinking, two of
which we review and compare, then later analyze to illustrate how the case problems from the
appendix promote qualities of critical thinking identified by the scholars.
Business law professors usually have law degrees, so have usually taken the Law School
Admission Test (LSAT).11 That test actually introduces what business law/legal environment
professors identify as critical thinking and higher order thinking, types of thinking that promote
good business decision making.
7 Nancy Kubasek & M. Neil Browne, Integrating Critical Thinking into the Legal Environment of Business
Classroom, 14 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 35, 37 (1996). 8 J. David Reitzel, Critical Thinking and the Business Law Curriculum, 9 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 471, 471 (1991). 9 Roger J. Johns, The Logic Doctor is In: Using Structure Training and Metacognitive Monitoring to Cultivate the
Ability to Self-Diagnose Legal Analysis Skills, 26 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 357 (2009). 10 The critical thinking learning outcome for the Craig School is expressed as “the successful undergraduate student
in the CSB will be able to…[p]rocess information and express complex ideas to address business problems.”
http://www.fresnostate.edu/academics/oie/documents/SOAP/Craig_School_of_Business/craigschoolofbusiness2013.pdf.
11 See Law School Admission Council’s (LSAC) webpage, About the LSAT (describing the exam questions) at
http://www.lsac.org/jd/lsat/about-the-lsat.asp (last visited Apr. 21, 2013). Unlike the Collegiate Learning
Assessment (CLA), the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) is multiple choice. Yet it measures the test taker’s
reading skill, logical reasoning skills, and analytical reasoning skills. Also, unlike the CLA, sample LSAT tests are
readily available. While there is not an obvious link between logical and analytical reasoning and business
learning, understanding and being able to use those types of thinking skills serve business executives in business
decision making. The case problem format adopted by the authors requires students to utilize basic forms of logical
and analytical thinking while problem solving.
3
The business law/legal environment course is a natural point at which students can develop
critical thinking skills. In the book RETHINKING UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS EDUCATION:
LIBERAL LEARNING FOR THE PROFESSION,
12 the authors posit that narrowly focused and
discipline specific content based business courses limit the students’ ability to analyze issues
from multiple perspectives. Two book reviewers note that business education should be revised
to incorporate more methods of analysis.13 Business law courses already usually require more
than focusing on the direct financial impact of decisions, or on purely content memorization.
Since law school education requires engaging in critical thinking from inception of the legal
education process, that of preparing for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), and
continuing throughout law school itself, where analytical and logical reasoning are key
components of the education, business law professors tend to encourage development of similar
thinking skills in their business students. Law school education requires that learners examine
issues from multiple perspectives, examine the policies underlying laws and regulations and to
take positions that may conflict with the individual learner’s perspective. Those are significant
elements of critical thinking. As such, business law/legal environment professors are especially
equipped to provide business students with better critical thinking skills.
In the authors’ business law courses, they have explored the meaning of critical thinking in the
business law discipline. In general education, critical thinking has been defined as the ability to
“think effectively, to communicate thought, to make relevant judgments, to discriminate among
values.”14 Emeritus business law professor Reitzel has summarized key elements of critical
thinking:
● Ability to distinguish fact from opinion
● Ability to reason logically and systematically
● Ability to choose or develop an effective problem-solving approach
● Ability to avoid decisional pitfalls15
Business law professors Giampetro-Meyer and Kubasek16 have defined key factors in critical
thinking in the business law course as:
● Identifying the issue and the conclusion
● Identifying the reasons
● Understanding deductive and inductive reasoning
12 ANNE COLBY, ET. AL, RETHINKING UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS EDUCATION: LIBERAL LEARNING FOR THE
PROFESSION (2011). 13 Joshua E. Perry & Jamie Darin Prenkert, Charting a Course to Effective Education: Lessons from Academically
Adrift and Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education (book review) 29 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC 127, 138 (2012).
Perry and Prenkert also argue that critical thinking in business involves articulating and applying efficient markets
theory and the mathematical bases of those theories.
14 This definition is quoted by J. David Reitzel, Critical Thinking and the Business Law Curriculum, 9 J. LEGAL
STUD. EDUC. 471, n.2 (1991) (referring to the Report of the Harvard Committee: General Education in a Free
Society).
15 Retizel, Id. at 486. 16Andrea Giampetro-Meyer & Nancy Kubasek, A Test of Critical Thinking Skills for Business Law and Legal
Environment Students, 9 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC 501, 503-507 (1991).
4
● Identifying value conflicts and assumptions
● Considering the relevance of analogies
● Identifying errors in reasoning
● Determining what significant information is omitted
● Identifying alternate conclusions
Both examples identify key elements of critical thinking for business law courses. The factors
overlap, as indicated in Table 1-Critical Thinking Factors and Examples from Case Questions in
the next section. The table also identifies how questions from the case problems ask students to
perform the identified types of critical thinking.
The case problem analyses law faculty regularly assign students to use in their writing have been
embraced by textbook publishers and authors, referred to as IRAC or FIRAC method. They are
excellent formats for developing critical thinking skills in law and business. The IRAC method
requires that learners identify the issue, rule of law, application, and conclusion. FIRAC
includes a summary of relevant facts at the beginning of the analysis.17 The organized format of
these methods provides tools so that business people can thrive as they develop broad-based
decision-making skills beyond purely financial concerns. Law professors in business schools are
uniquely situated to help students master critical thinking skills that involve logical and
analytical thinking.
2. Engaging students in critical thinking
Examination of how and whether education encourages and promotes critical thinking has
become increasingly important as scholars of business education have conducted assessments of
learning of identified learning goals and learning outcomes. While measurement of learning
outcomes is being conducted throughout universities, AACSB accredited business schools have
included learning assessment in their programs since the 1990’s, with a mandate for direct
measurement of identified learning outcomes since 2003.18 The most recently publicized
learning assessment, the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA)19 has been administered and
17 Kubasek & Browne, supra note 7, at 38. These scholars have suggested that the IRAC method should also include
an evaluation of the ethical implications of decisions. Id. 18 Dennis Zocco, A Recursive Process Model for AACSB Assurance of Learning, 15:4 ACADEMY OF EDUCATIONAL
LEADERSHIP JOURNAL 67, 67 (2011), at http://www.questia.com/library/1G1-263157468/a-recursive-processmodel-for-aacsb-assurance-of-learning
(last visited Apr. 21, 2013). According to Zocco,
As a historical perspective, prior to 1991, AACSB learning standards were based on a “Common
Body of Knowledge” requirement of all undergraduate and graduate business majors. These
standards were based on discipline (e.g., finance and accounting) as well as more specific subdisciplines
which were evaluated based on contact hours within the program. In 1991, AACSB
adopted mission-linked, outcome-oriented AoL standards and the peer-review process. The
measurement of outcomes was broadly defined, with surveys of students, alumni, or employers
allowed. The latest conceptual change in AoL standards for initial accreditation and
reaccreditation occurred in April, 2003, with the most recent revision to the 2003 standards
occurring in Jan. 2010. The 2003 standards called for a more direct measure of learning
achievement for each degree program as a natural extension of the concept of “outcomes
assessment” introduced in the 1991 standards. 19 Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA): Returning to Learning, Council for Aid to Education website at
http://www.collegiatelearningassessment.org/ (last visited April 21, 2013). “The CLA helps institutions improve
undergraduate education through assessment, professional development, best practices and collaboration.”
5
some educators have concluded that four years of undergraduate education has resulted in little
to no significant improvement in learning.20 The CLA is a test designed to assess problemsolving
and analytical thinking skills, in contrast to measuring knowledge of content, through
requiring test-takers to respond in writing to a variety of complex scenarios.21 At California
State University, Fresno, for instance, student performance on the CLA was mixed and indicated
need for improvement. According to the test, performance levels improved from freshmen to
seniors on the performance and critique-an-argument tasks, but decreased on the analytic and
make-an-argument tasks.22 Overall, however, the estimated improvement was at or above
expected percentile rank.23 Although the test is not without its critics, its results are consistent
with commonly made faculty claims that our students learn content without improving analytic
skills. The organized format of the case problem method provides tools so that business people
can thrive as they develop broad-based decision-making skills beyond purely financial concerns.
Law professors in business schools are uniquely situated to help students master critical thinking
skills that involve logical and analytical thinking.24
Although there is nearly universal agreement that students can learn to critically analyze through
case analysis in our business law courses, the authors have sought a systematic way to analyze
and measure whether and how that occurs. Business law professor Roger Johns has
recommended a systematic approach to encourage critical thinking in business law courses.25
The key component of his recommended teaching method is to provide students immediate
feedback (whether their answer matches the teacher’s answer) and explanation of the teacher’s
answer, to encourage students to analyze and revise their thought processes based on the
additional information.26 Johns’ method is supported by research that it is through self-reflection
about how one’s thoughts work (meta-cognition) that analytical reasoning can be improved.27
The next section, explaining using collaborative learning techniques, might serve this purpose.
As noted above, the authors developed cases followed by questions designed to foster selfreflection
and critical thinking. Self-reflection can be fostered through students evaluating their
responses after they have participated in collaborative exercises. Critical thinking is embedded in
the authors’ case questions. The following table outlines the factors identified by Reitzel and
Giampetro-Meyer and Kubasek and explains how the case question(s) provide examples that
20 This is the conclusion reached by RICHARD ARUM & JOSIPA ROKSA, ACADEMICALLY ADRIFT: LIMITED LEARNING
ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES 35 (2011). 21 Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA): Returning to Learning, Council for Aid to Education website at
http://www.collegiatelearningassessment.org/ (last visited Apr. 21, 2013). “To gauge summative
performance authentically, the CLA presents realistic problems that require students to analyze complex materials
and determine the relevance to the task and credibility. Students’ written responses to the tasks are evaluated to
assess their abilities to think critically, reason analytically, solve problems and communicate clearly and cogently.”
22 2007-2008 CLA Institutional Report, at 3,
http://teachingcommons.cdl.edu/learningoutcomes/cla/documents/CSUFresnoCLAReport2007-2008_000.pdf (last
visited Apr. 21, 2013). 23 Id. 24 We should not only institute critical thinking in business programs, but we should also help instructors succeed at
getting students to engage in critical thinking by developing curriculum wide thinking activities and by assisting the
instructional faculty in use and assessment of critical thinking in business/legal environment courses. 25 Johns, supra note 9. 26 Id. at 360. 27 Id. at 360-362.
6
probe each of those factors and thereby promote critical thinking. Note that the questions are not
identical, but that they are consistent with the critical thinking factors outlined by authors Reitzel
and Giampetro-Meyer and Kubasek.
Table 1 Critical Thinking Factors and Examples from Case Questions
Reitzel Factors Giampetro-Meyer and
Kubasek Factors
Examples-Question (s) From the Cases in the
Appendix
Distinguishing fact from
opinion
Identifying the issue and
the conclusion
What happened here? Who did what to whom?
(From Appendix case: A Trip Out of This
World)
What is the issue or what are the issues? It
might help to start by writing, “The issue is
whether or not….” State it as specifically as
you can, identifying the causes of action and
referring to the story. (From Appendix case:
Inquiring Minds Want to Know)
Reasoning logically and
systematically
Identifying the reasons Beauty Queen and Howard Huge want to sue
both the interviewer Baba Wawa and the
magazine that published the story Star News.
You should explain the issue(s), the law, how
the law might be applied to this story, and your
conclusion in regards to suing the defendants.
Write your essay in IRAC format (Issue, Rule,
Application, Conclusion). (From Appendix
case: Inquiring Minds Want to Know)
Note that if students miss that they are supposed
to explain and apply the definition of
defamation, they can be prompted with question
as in the manslaughter story, or can be given a
sample answer. If the latter is done, then they
can be asked to perform the analysis for the
related invasion of privacy torts and the
affirmative defense of constitutional privilege.
Reasoning logically and
systematically;
Avoiding decisional
pitfalls
Understanding deductive
and inductive reasoning
The Inquiring Minds Want to Know problem
could be altered for the professor to identify the
tort as defamation and the prompt would be to
ask for the definition with each element
identified.
Choosing or developing
an effective problemsolving
approach;
Identifying value
conflicts and
assumptions
Discuss the types of claims that Jesse might use
if he brings suit. Be specific. Explain the
elements of each claim and which elements
7
Reitzel Factors Giampetro-Meyer and
Kubasek Factors
Examples-Question (s) From the Cases in the
Appendix
Avoiding decisional
pitfalls
might be missing in the evidence. (From
Appendix case: A Trip Out of This World)
Explain the elements of each claim and which
elements might not be shown by the evidence.
As you explain the elements of each tort,
identify how the facts satisfy or do not satisfy
each of the elements. A plaintiff can sue more
than one defendant and can make more than one
claim. (From Appendix case: Inquiring Minds
Want to Know)
Reasoning logically and
systematically;
Avoiding decisional
pitfalls
Considering the
relevance of analogies
The case of New York Times v. Sullivan is a
famous case you should use for comparison.
Summarize it and tell how it is similar and how
it is different. If you do not find the case in the
text, you may access a summary of the case it at
the following website.
http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/torts/tortskeyed-to-epstein/defamation/new-york-timesco-v-sullivan/
(From Appendix case: Inquiring
Minds Want to Know)
Reasoning logically and
systematically;
Avoiding decisional
pitfalls
Identifying errors in
reasoning
In your own words, explain when a federal court
would have jurisdiction. What page number in
the textbook is that explanation? If you used the
internet to find the explanation, provide the
URL and explain why you think this is a good
source of information. (From Appendix case:
Where in the World Do I Start Resolving These
Issues? A Matter of Jurisdiction)
Distinguishing fact from
opinion
Determining what
significant information
is omitted
What additional facts would you need to know
in order to determine whether the company,
Tom or Dick could be found guilty of
involuntary manslaughter? In other words, what
else do you need to know in order to make a
decision? (From Appendix case: Be a Manager
and Stay Out of Jail!)
Choosing or developing
an effective problemsolving
approach
Identifying alternate
conclusions
Explore with students whether the result would
be the same if Jesse had ordered the jacket or
sunglasses. (From Appendix case: A Trip Out
of This World)
8
The above table outlines the questions and how they relate to encouraging critical thinking. The
third column identifies questions from case problems in the appendix that ask students to engage
in the identified critical thinking activities. Now that the elements of critical thinking in working
or solving a case problem have been identified, the actual assessment of how well students
perform on each step in the critical thinking process of case analysis can be measured with a
rubric, with multiple choice questions like those asked on the LSAT, and/or by a written exam
like the CLA. Since faculty workloads are increasing, instructor grading and teaching assistance
is decreasing, and demands to publish research is increasing, developing an assessment tool that
allows the instructor to efficiently, accurately, and rapidly assess the depth of learning of the
critical thinking skills will be crucial. While the actual assessment tools are not part of this
article, the authors intend to collaboratively develop assessment methods that can be applied
efficiently and accurately. Since self-awareness is an aspect of critical thinking that has
previously been identified, it is possible that an assessment measurement that utilizes self and
peer feedback, combining individual and collaborative communication will be developed.
The authors’ collaboration and willingness to revise questions as appropriate served to promote
agreement and identify which questions best promote critical thinking in identified areas, while
at the same time preserving academic freedom. Some of those questions have been revised to
reflect more analysis of the required elements of critical thinking and to tease out more of
students’ analysis.
B. Collaborative or Team Based Learning
Individuals come to a problem with individual points of view. If 3 or 4 individuals share with
one another their points of view on a case problem, the case problem analytical process will be
altered, usually enriched, by the added activity of comparing, contrasting, and altering the points
of view being considered. It is intuitive and logical that multiple varied inputs, with interaction
among proponents of the inputs, will result in a more satisfactory outcome or course of action.
Anecdotal indications of the value of collaboration to problem solve come from the Apollo 13
movie referenced at the beginning of this piece and from one author’s personal experience
coaching student teams for Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination programs.28
28 Apollo 13 (7/11) Movie Clip. Square Peg in a Round Hole (1995). YouTube MovieClips.com

(last visited Mar. 30, 2013). For information on Destination Imagination, go to: Destination Imagination: Who We
Are. http://www.destinationimagination.org/who-we-are/vision-mission-history
It turns out that Odyssey of the Mind is alive and well, at least on its website. Destination Imagination said they
bought the rights to Odyssey of the Mind in 1999. But apparently they did not buy the Odyssey of the Mind charter.
The Odyssey of the Mind website includes its history tracing its founding back to a teacher in the public university
system.
The Odyssey of the Mind has its roots in the Industrial Design classes of Dr. Sam Micklus,
Odyssey of the Mind founder. As a professor at Rowan University in New Jersey (formerly
Glassboro State College) Dr. Micklus challenged his students to create vehicles without wheels,
mechanical pie throwers and flotation devices that would take them across a course on a lake. He
evaluated them not on the success of their solutions, but on the ingenuity applied and the risk
involved in trying something new and different. Students had fun. Word spread and the students’
activities attracted attention from the local media. Soon, people on the outside wanted a part of the
9
The scholarship on team based or collaborative learning in the JOURNAL OF LEGAL STUDIES IN
EDUCATION is both numerous and diverse.29 Education scholars have studied the effectiveness
of collaborative learning also.30 Techniques for forming groups are outside the scope of this
article. Readers are referred to a number of articles that discuss that issue.31
George Spiro, an author in the above journal wrote about business law professors’ common dual
goals. “The task of a teacher of a legal environment course is to help this diverse group of
students achieve a common goal: to become grounded in the fundamentals of the U.S. legal
action. This public interest led to the development of a creative problem-solving competition for
school children. The Odyssey of the Mind was on its way. Since then, Dr. Micklus’s life has been
happily consumed with developing problems for other people to solve. His rewards are in the joy
and pride of the millions of participants who rise to the challenge of solving those problems.
Odyssey of the Mind: Information, at
http://www.odysseyofthemind.com/learn_more.php (last visited Mar. 30, 2013). 29 See, e.g., Marianne M. Jennings, In Defense of the Sage on the Stage: Escaping from the “Sorcery” of Learning
Styles and Helping Students Learn How to Learn, 29 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 191 (2012) (discussing the movement in
college education from lecture based courses to collaborative learning models of education, questioning the research
in support of the new methods, and proposing an alternative approach); Ida M. Jones, Can You See Me Now?
Defining Teaching Presence in the Online Classroom Through Building a Learning Community, 28 J. LEGAL STUD.
EDUC. 67 (2011) (describing methods for gaining professorial presence in online classes, identifying group
discussions as a method of learning online); Sandra S. Benson, Going for the Intrinsic Gold: A Collaborative
Quizbowl Quest to Motivate Students and to Showcase Business Law Courses, 26 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 457 (2009);
Susan W. Dana, Implementing Team-Based Learning in an Introduction to Law Course, 24 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC.
59 (2007); Laurie A. Lucas, Diane F. Baker, & Dave Roach, Team Learning Versus Traditional Lecture: Measuring
the Efficacy of Teaching Method in Legal Studies, 19 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 63 (Dec 2001) (comparative study of
team learning method and traditional lecture, with inconclusive results); Judith Stilz Ogden & Mary Ellen Benedict,
What’s On Your Mind? A Negotiation Role-Play, 18 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 307, 308 (2000) (“Cooperative learning
in small groups helps students to learn better. Additionally, … teamwork, interaction and communication are
increasingly valuable in the workplace …”); Catherine Jones-Rikkers & Constance Jones, Active Learning in the
Legal Environment of Business Classroom, 16 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 173 (1998); George W. Spiro, Collaborative
Learning and the Study of the Legal Environment, 10 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 55 (1992) (exploring the theory behind
collaborative learning and providing examples of how it can be used in business schools); and Robert S. Adler & Ed
Neal, Cooperative Learning Groups in Undergraduate and Graduate Contexts, 9 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 427 (1991).
These are only a sampling of the articles that address collaborative learning in business law courses. 30 See generally, DAVID W. JOHNSON & ROGER T. JOHNSON, LEARNING TOGETHER AND ALONE: COOPERATIVE,
COMPETITIVE, AND INDIVIDUALISTIC LEARNING (Prentice-Hall, 2d ed., 1987); Kenneth A. Bruffee, Liberal
Education, Scholarly Community and the Authority of Knowledge, 71 Liberal Educ. 231 (1985); Kenneth A.
Bruffee, The Structure of Knowledge and the Future of Liberal Education, 67 Liberal Educ. 181-85 (1981). These
books and articles were cited by George Spiro in his article which is being used here to explain the advantages of
collaborative learning in business law courses.
31 Michael R. Koval, Step Away from the Syllabus: Engaging Students on the First Day of Legal Environment,30 J.
LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 179, n. 24 (2013)(students select a piece of candy without looking at it. Students with the same
type of candy form a group. This approach facilitates quick formation of groups during the first class period.)
Koval also discusses other approaches such as those espoused by Barbara Oakley, et. Al., Turning Student Groups
into Effective Teams, 2 J. Student Centered Learning 9, 11 (2004) (faculty form teams to minimize cheating and to
model employees’ lack of control in workplace teams), Denise Potosky & Janet Duck, Forming Teams for
Classroom Projects, 34 Dev. Bus. Simulation & Experiential Learning 144, 145 (2007) (students are less satisfied
when they are assigned to teams compared to when they select their own teams). For a discussion of some of the
special challenges in using teams in the online learning environment, see Regina O Smith, Trust in Online
Collaborative Groups – A Constructivist Psychodynamic View, paper presented at the Midwest Research to Practice
Conference in Adult, Continuing, and Community Education, Michigan State University, September 26-28, 2010
(on file with author).
10
system. Further, teachers need to help their students move beyond simple recall of facts, names,
and institutional structures and develop an understanding of how to work with legal concepts.”32
Case problems have been used by business professors, especially legal studies professors, as far
back as any of these authors can remember. Case problems are often the business student’s
initial contact with using critical thinking skills associated with analytical and logical thinking.
Case problem papers assigned in a course often reveal the students’ divergent ways of analyzing
problems and their difficulty with determining the logical impact of their statements. While the
IRAC method is effective for logical presentation of an analysis, its parts are not easily
understood by students. It makes sense to take advantage of students’ varied methods of
approaching a problem and of their individual analytical strengths by asking them to collaborate
with one another to devise a better analysis from the individual and often incomplete analyses
they may have done. They become adept at making the distinctions between the rules of law and
application to facts through collaboration, through interacting with peers when writing a
problem.
Recall the story of the blind men and the elephant.33 Each man felt a part of the animal and
concluded that his individual description embodied the whole elephant. None of them were
32 Spiro, supra note 29 at 57. 33 See Blind Men and an Elephant, WIKIPEDIA, at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_men_and_an_elephant (last
visited Feb. 27, 2013). It summarizes the possible origins of the story, quotes the John Godfrey Saxe poem that
embodies the story and the moral of the story, and then identifies several disciplines’ applications of the story. See
also All Poetry Classics, Top 500 Poems, at http://allpoetry.com/classics (last visited Feb. 27, 2013).
It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.
The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
“God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!”
The second feeling of the tusk, cried: “Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!”
The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, “I see,” quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!”
The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
“What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,” quoth he;
“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.”
The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; “E’en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!”
The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
“I see,” quothe he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”
And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!
So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!
11
correct, but had they collected their individual information into one description, they would have
made an acceptable description of an elephant. This is the essence of collaborative or team
learning. When student reflection on the team’s learning is added to the activity, it is an
effective method of deepening one’s knowledge and of improving one’s analytical skills through
adopting fellow teammates’ thinking methods.34
Spiro wrote, “Although we are most familiar with individualistic and competitive structures,
educational psychologists and cooperative learning scholars suggest that a cooperative structure
can be very useful in developing higher order learning skills.”35 This is important to us because
we have a goal of developing critical thinking in the introductory legal environment course we
teach. Critical thinking contains forms of higher level thinking, of higher forms of cognition as
found in Bloom’s Taxonomy.36
Not all agree that collaborative learning should replace the traditional format. Professor
Marianne Jennings makes a strong argument for the wisdom of retaining the traditional lecture
format and notes that opportunities for developing critical thinking skills through case analysis
and case problem solving have traditionally been an intrinsic part of lecture format business law
courses.37 The concept of the flipped classroom is being used to meet the dual advantages of
students benefitting from lecture while still utilizing class time for collaborative learning. In that
structure, the professor records lectures which students access independently from the classroom.
Their classroom work may be a review quiz to make sure the student has obtained the necessary
information or content to begin manipulating it for problem solving, for the critical thinking
aspect of the course. The classroom is then used for the collaborative learning aspect of case
problem solving. While the authors of this article have not made recorded lectures part of the
course redesign for their introductory business law course, it is conceivable that the authors will
adopt recorded lectures as the development process continues.
In conclusion, many students lack problem analysis skills and many do not grasp the case
problem methods we ask them to perform. We as authors have discovered that our three minds
function much better than one of our minds alone. This same sharing of mental power works in
a student learning environment, through collaborative or team based learning. Incidentally,
working effectively in group, or engaging in cooperative learning, is also often one of business
schools’ goals or learning outcomes. Spiro wisely wrote:
Collaborative learning is not just group talk; rather, it requires structured team
learning situations. Using this system, students will not be left to wonder, why do
Had the blind men collaborated and shared their information, they would have developed an accurate description of
an elephant.
34 See also, George T. Spiro, supra note 29, at 56-57 (giving examples of 3 students with 3 views of the study of
business law and summarizing Peter Elbow’s WRITING WITHOUT TEACHERS 151-152 (1973) explanation of levels of
cognition in learning, using as example varying interpretations of the same data). 35 Id. See also D. JOHNSON & P. JOHNSON, supra, note 30; Bruffee, supra, note 30. 36 See Mary Forehand, Bloom’s Taxonomy: Original and Revised. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging Perspectives on
Learning, Teaching, and Technology. (2005) at http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/ (last visited May 30, 2013). The
article summarizes and explains the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy (RBT) 2001. 37 See generally, Jennings, supra note 29 (opining that much active learning occurs in the lecture format, and that
both methods lend themselves to case problem analysis which is an ideal method of practicing critical thinking).
12
I need to learn this subject? Instead they will be engaged in dialogue and the
creation of shared systems in order to answer that precise question. They will not
only learn about law, they will also develop problem-solving skills.
These wise words have been heeded by the authors of this paper.
III. COLLABORATION IN COURSE DEVELOPMENT
Collaboration is not just for students. We have found that, as colleagues, “think” better when we
collaborate also. So by collaborating, we developed 4 common assignments that we intend to
use and to ask other instructors to use to engage students in basic critical thinking throughout the
semester. As noted earlier, many business schools require students to take a legal environment
or business law course. In many business schools, multiple sections of the introductory business
law course are offered. The business law faculty in the Craig School of Business have been
working on designing common learning outcomes and learning assessment activities. Each
semester we offer a number of sections of business law. Some of these are taught by adjunct
faculty who are practicing attorneys. The remaining sections are taught by full-time faculty
members. We use a common syllabus to help assure that students in the various sections are
exposed to the key topics. It is not an identical syllabus and there is room for faculty to
customize their courses. Common aspects in a multi-section course are desirable for several
reasons. First, they ensure all students in the school are receiving the same basic information,
even if delivered in individualized formats. Second, sharing and objectifying assessment reduces
the burden on the individual faculty member, an important consideration in these times of
increased teaching loads.
The business law faculty at the Craig School of Business have been engaging in course redesign
for almost 3 years. While the initial work has been completed and results of learning assessment
in the revised course have been collected, the faculty members continue to modify and improve
the learning experience for the business students who must take the introductory business law
course. We hope our initiative will serve the Craig School of Business in its efforts to define and
assess critical thinking activities in the business program.
Collaboration in the context of our business law courses has occurred in face to face and online
courses. At the relevant point in the course, the cases are distributed to the students.38 If group
discussions are a critical part of the class, these groups should be formed early in the semester to
develop cohesiveness and effective sharing of resources and knowledge.39 In a face to face class,
that means that copies are distributed to the students during class. Upon distribution of the case,
students are asked to read the case and to take notes of their responses to the questions. After 5-
10 minutes, depending on the length of the case, students are divided into groups of 5-7
38 See the Appendix for the cases and teaching notes. 39 Cohesiveness and sharing resources and feedback are key components of successful group learning. See, e.g.,
LARRY K. MICHAELSEN, ET. AL., TEAM-BASED LEARNING: A TRANSFORMATIVE USE OF SMALL GROUPS IN COLLEGE
TEACHING, 74-75 (2002); Larry K. Michaelsen et. al., Problems with Learning Groups: An Ounce of Prevention…
17 J. LEGAL STUD. EDUC. 91, 92-94 (1999) (effective learning teams work best when the members are willing to
communicate and motivated to prepare to communicate something of substance).
13
members.40 The groups discuss the case(s) and prepare a response. The response can be written,
oral or both. Groups can then be selected to report out to the class or to each other at the same
time.41 In an online class, the cases are distributed to the group online via the learning
management system. Groups are created at the beginning of the semester and the same groups
exist permanently throughout the semester. It takes longer for the groups to “gel” in the online
environment.
One question is how to select the group members. According to research on team-based or group
learning, student-selected groups are most problematic because they tend to be homogenous and
not have diverse abilities and talents necessary to solve complex problems.42 Instructors can
select diverse groups that have broader-based abilities. In the face to face environment, faculty
can ask questions and collect answers via index cards, then divide students into groups based on
a variety of criteria.43 If this is done during the face to face class, students can see the group
selection process and view it as fair, and thus they may be more motivated to complete the
tasks.44 A similar activity can be used to select groups in an online course. In an e-mail
introducing the course, the instructor can explain the process of group selection and include a
brief questionnaire that solicits the same information as in the face to face class. In that way, the
process of group selection can be transparent in both contexts.
IV. CONCLUSION
The course redesign is an ongoing process that involves refinements each semester. It is
important to determine and assess impact as the course evolves. One positive impact overall has
been the decrease in the number of students who fail the course (have a grade lower than a “C”).
We will continue our efforts to infuse the course with critical thinking and assess whether critical
thinking is occurring. Assessment includes self-reports by students as part of our teaching
evaluations forms. It has also included examining standardized tests as one way to assess
whether critical thinking had improved. Other assessment techniques will also be developed or
licensed.
40 MICHAELSEN, ET. AL, TEAM-BASED LEARNING, supra note 29, at 74-75 (research supports the proposition that the
optimal size for small groups is 5-7 members to ensure a broad base of intellectual abilities and effective
participation).
41 Id. at 63 (simultaneous reports tend to promote more vigorous debate; sequential reporting on the same case can
result in later groups merely endorsing previous groups’ reports).
42 Id. at 29, 76. 43Id. at 29, 39-40 (instructor criteria to select group members can include student characteristics such as gender,
ethnicity, full-time work experience, and previous relevant coursework). 44Id. at 76.
14
Appendix
Case Problems, Questions, and Teaching Notes45
I. Case Problem – Involuntary Manslaughter
Be a Manager and Stay Out of Jail!46
Silver Recovery, Inc. removes silver from photographic film through a
process that involves dipping used photographic film into tanks of cyanide
solution. Francois, a 60-year-old employee of the firm, was responsible for
maintaining the tanks. Francois, who spoke no English, learned how to
perform the job by watching other workers. There was no formal training
program at the 20-employee plant. Over a period of several years,
employees who worked around the cyanide tanks periodically suffered
from headaches, dizziness, and minor respiratory ailments. At one point,
OSHA, a federal safety agency, inspected the plant, notified Silver that the
illnesses may have resulted from cyanide exposure, and recommended
changes in ventilation and equipment. Tom and Dick, president and vice president of Silver,
ordered that some changes be made. Later, while cleaning a cyanide tank, Francois collapsed
and died. The state charged Silver, Tom and Dick with involuntary manslaughter.
1. What happened here?
2. What is involuntary manslaughter? List each part of the definition separately. What
page number(s) in the textbook are those explanations? If you used the Internet to
find the explanations, provide the URL and explain why you think this is a good
source of information.
3. What additional facts would you need to know in order to determine whether the
company, Tom or Dick could be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter? In other
words, what else do you need to know in order to make a decision?
4. Apply the definition to reach a conclusion whether Silver, Tom or Dick is guilty of
manslaughter. Explain how you reached each conclusion. What examples support
your conclusion?
5. Should individual managers face criminal liability for their conduct as managers?
45 Images courtesy of a license from dreamstime.com. 46 This is based on Stefan Golab’s death while working for Silver Recovery Systems. See e.g., Jeffery P. Grogin,
Corporations Can Kill Too: After Film Recovery, Are Individuals Accountable for Corporate Crimes?, 19 LOY. L.A.
L. REV. 1411 (1986), available at http://digitalcommons.lmu.edu/llr/vol19/iss4/12 (last visited May 30, 2013);
People v. O’Neill, 550 N.E.2d 1090 (1990); R. Bruce Dold, Ex-worker Says Firm Masked Cyanide Peril, CHI. TRIB.
NEWS, Apr. 17, 1985, http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1985-04-17/news/8501220589_1_film-recovery-systemsstefan-golab-plant-manager
(last visited May 30, 2013); Harold Hendersen, Murder in the Air, ChicagoReader.com,
June 14, 1990, http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/murder-in-the-air/Content?oid=875834 (last visited May 30,
2013); Job-Related Murder Convictions of 3 Executives are Overturned, N.Y. TIMES, January 20, 1990,
http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/20/us/job-related-murder-convictions-of-3-executives-are-overturned.html (last
visited May 30, 2013).
15
Teaching Note for Be a Manager and Stay Out of Jail
The following is a brief summary of potential student responses.
What happened here?
Student responses should focus on factual details, e.g.
• While cleaning a cyanide tank, Francois collapsed and died
• Employee training
o Francois spoke no English.
o He learned how to perform the job by watching other workers.
o There was no formal training program at the 20-employee plant.
• Notice of the issue
o Over a period of several years, employees who worked around the cyanide tanks
periodically suffered from headaches, dizziness, and minor respiratory ailments.
o Government regulation and notice: At one point, OSHA, a federal safety agency,
inspected the plant, notified Silver that the illnesses may have resulted from cyanide
exposure, and recommended changes in ventilation and equipment.
o Tom and Dick, president and vice president of Silver, ordered that some changes be
made.
What is involuntary manslaughter? List each part of the definition separately. What page
number(s) in the textbook are those explanations? If you used the Internet to find the
explanations, provide the URL and explain why you think this is a good source of
information.
California’s Penal Code section 192 provides the following definition: Manslaughter is the
unlawful killing of a human being without malice. It is of three kinds… Involuntary–in the
commission of an unlawful act, not amounting to felony; or in the commission of a lawful act
which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection.
This subdivision shall not apply to acts committed in the driving of a vehicle.
Elements of the CA Penal Code definition
• Unlawful
• Killing
• Human being
• Without Malice
• In the Commission of
• (a) Unlawful Act-not a felony OR (b) lawful act that might produce death, in a lawful
manner OR (c) without caution and circumspection
• Not while driving a vehicle
16
How students respond to this question would depend on the jurisdiction. If you ask students to
research information by “searching the net” for answers, it is key that you ask students to provide
evidence that they have evaluated the source(s) to determine validity and credibility.47
What additional facts would you need to know in order to determine whether the company,
Tom or Dick could be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter? In other words, what else
do you need to know in order to make a decision?
The most common “need to know” comments/question are:
1. What safety equipment was available?
2. Whether the workers took adequate safety precautions?
3. What actions Tom and Dick upon receiving the OSHA recommendation?
4. What evidence was there that cyanide caused Francois’s death? (I generally discuss this
question as one of questioning the facts and urge students to decide based on the
assumption that it was the exposure to cyanide that caused Francois’s death.)
5. Whether Tom and Dick “knew” that workers became ill from exposure to the cyanide
fumes? (I generally discuss this question as one of questioning the facts and urge
students to decide based on the assumption that it was the exposure to cyanide that
caused Francois’s death.)
6. Whether OSHA had required training and if it didn’t whether the company should be
responsible?
Some of the above questions do not focus on facts but instead policies.
Apply the definition to reach a conclusion whether Silver, Tom or Dick is guilty of
manslaughter. Explain how you reached each conclusion. What examples support your
conclusion?
The table below provides an example of a brief identification of the element and its application
to reach the conclusion that Tom and Dick fulfilled the elements of manslaughter. This
definition did not include whether a corporation could be guilty of manslaughter and that could
be a separate discussion.
Element Application Element
present?
Unlawful Violated OSHA regulations (discussion of whether
violation of regulations necessarily constitutes
Yes
47 Determining whether information is credible is an essential skill for 21st century literacy. Instructors can ask
students to complete a checklist as they develop that skill. Two helpful checklists are:
• CARS (Credibility accuracy, reasonableness, support):
http://novella.mhhe.com/sites/0079876543/student_view0/research_center999/research_papers30/conducting_web-based_research.html
• More detailed information about evaluation, including CARS http://www.virtualsalt.com/evalu8it.htm
Instructors can find more through information literacy standards promulgated by the Association of College and
Research Libraries http://www.ala.org/acrl/standards/informationliteracycompetency.
17
Element Application Element
present?
unlawful, i.e. whether the violation was minor vs.
major)
Killing Francois died; exposure to cyanide fumes on the job;
discussion of how active and direct death must be to
constitute killing; could look at other cases, articles
related to this
Yes
Human being Francois was a worker/human being Yes
Without malice Tom and Dick’s state of mind: define malice
(voluntary, deliberate, choice, possibly hatred) and no
malice indicated here
Yes
In the commission of Exposure was passive, so could generate discussion of
what action is required in order to “commit”
Yes
(a) Unlawful act-not a
felony OR (b) lawful act
that might produce
death, in a lawful
manner OR (c) without
caution and
circumspection
Lawful act that might produce death (exposure to
cyanide without proper equipment) or without caution
and circumspection (exposure to cyanide without
proper equipment); whether this was an unlawful act
relates to whether violation of OSHA regulations
would be considered “unlawful” in the context of this
statute –see earlier note
Yes
Not while driving a
vehicle
This situation did not involve driving a motor vehicle Yes
Should individual managers face criminal liability for their conduct as managers?
This topic has been the subject of a great deal of discussion and the trend is toward holding
managers criminally responsible.48 This question can invite a discussion from an ethical
perspective through applying ethical theories to the question and a discussion on the policy
reasons for and against. There is value in asking students to respond to this question individually,
then in groups and also in a debate format. Ultimately, the trend has clearly been toward
imposing criminal liability on individual managers (see, e.g., the California Corporate Criminal
Liability Act49) and U.S. v. Park50 and their invocation of liability on responsible corporate
officers.
48 See, e.g., Jennifer Arlen, Evolution of Corporate Criminal Liability: Implications for Managers. NYU, Law and
Economics Research Paper No. 04-022; LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE FROM THE INSIDE OUT, Jeffrey
Sonnenfeld & Robert Gandossey, ed., 2004, available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=591202; Ida M. Jones,
Criminalizing Failure To Report Or Correct Unsafe Workplace Conditions And Unsafe Products As A Means of
Preventing Unethical Business Conduct (unpublished manuscript, on file with author). 49 CA Penal Code §387 (2013). 50 421 U.S. 658 (1975).
18
II. Case Problem – Torts – Defamation and Invasion of Privacy
Inquiring Minds Want to Know51
Beauty Queen had recently married the billionaire recluse Howard
Huge. She consented to the couple giving an interview to the great
news person Baba Wawa. Beauty Queen hoped to further help Howard
Huge overcome his reclusiveness. Baba Wawa arrived at the mansion a
little early and as she walked by a large picture window at the front of
the house she stopped and looked in. She saw Howard Huge holding
one of Beauty Queen’s prized Afghan dogs by its collar or neck,
shaking or striking it on the shoulders. Meanwhile, Beauty Queen was
on her hands and knees on the carpet, wearing her underwear, wiping
something wet and brown looking from the luxurious cream colored
carpeting, and seemingly crying. Baba Wawa took pictures. She then
waited outside the house until the appointed time for the interview.
During the interview Beauty Queen talked about how happily married the two were. Howard
Huge did not say anything unless directly asked, then answered without emotion and briefly. At
one point Baba Wawa asked about the prize Afghan hounds and asked to see them. Beauty
Queen uncomfortably told Baba Wawa that they were under the weather and that she would not
stress them by having them come to the great room. Baba Wawa completed the interview and
left.
The story that she published included the photo of Howard Huge “strangling” the prize dog and
looking like he was angry, with Beauty Queen appearing to be cowering and crying. Baba
Wawa further indicated that the couple refused to allow the dogs to be seen and that no one had
seen the dogs since the photographed scene.
The couple began to be shunned by their peers and denied permission to show the dogs. They
sued Baba Wawa and Star News, her employer, seeking compensation for damaging their
reputations.
The real story was that the dog was choking on some object and Howard was trying to dislodge it
by hitting it between the shoulder blades and shaking it. Howard was worried about the poor
dog, of which he was very fond, throughout the interview. This might explain why he seemed
surly or distant during the interview.
1. Beauty Queen and Howard Huge want to sue both the interviewer Baba Wawa and the
magazine that published the story Star News. You should explain the issue(s), the law, how
the law might be applied to this story, and your conclusion in regards to suing the defendants.
Write your essay in IRAC format (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion). Warning: Often
51 The title is referring to National Enquirer’s old slogan. This is the type of story that a gossip magazine like
National Enquirer would publish.
19
there is so much law (Rule) to explain and apply that the information is clearer when you
break it into a series of short law and application summaries.
2. What is the issue or what are the issues? It might help to start by writing, “The issue is
whether or not….” State it as specifically as you can, identifying the causes of action and
referring to the story.
3. Explain the elements of each claim and which elements might not be shown by the evidence.
As you explain the elements of each tort, identify how the facts satisfy or do not satisfy each
of the elements. A plaintiff can sue more than one defendant and can make more than one
claim. The following sources may be useful to supplement your text’s law summaries.
Definition of defamation can be found at the following website.
http://www.chillingeffects.org/protest/question.cgi?QuestionID=323. Warning: When
explaining the tort of defamation, ignore distinctions between slander and libel, and
concentrate on the elements of defamation alone.
Invasion of privacy as described in the Restatement of Torts is at the following website.
http://www.lexisnexis.com/lawschool/study/outlines/html/torts/torts22.htm
4. Explain the defense(s) that Baba Wawa and Star News will use and which elements might
not be shown for the defense.
5. The case of New York Times v. Sullivan is a famous case you should use for comparison.
Summarize it and tell how it is similar and how it is different. If you do not find the case in
the text, you may access a summary of the case it at the following website.
http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/torts/torts-keyed-to-epstein/defamation/new-york-timesco-v-sullivan/
6. Based on your analysis, provide your conclusion to the problem.
20
Teaching Note for Inquiring Minds Want to Know
1. Beauty Queen and Howard Huge want to sue the interviewer Baba Wawa and the
magazine that published the story Star News. You should explain the issue(s), the
law, how the law might be applied to this story, and your conclusion in regards to
suing each of the two defendants. Write your essay in IRAC format (Issue, Rule,
Application, Conclusion). Warning: Often there is so much law (Rule) to explain
and apply that the information is clearer when you break it into a series of short law
and application summaries.
This section

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