Sociolegal model making 1: Decision

This is the first in a series of experiments (see the secondthirdfourth, fifth and sixth) investigating how modelling can be used in econosociolegal research processes.

Drop in session

Kent Law School (KLS) acquired a LEGO set in 2016. The purchase was provoked by my attendance at a LEGO-based workshop on ‘Exploring stuckness’ run by Graham Barton who is part of the Academic Support team University of the Arts, London. I am grateful to him for the inspiration.

We initiated our KLS with a drop in session using the following invitation:

Kent Law School bought a LEGO set…Curious?

It is commonly reported that we remember just 10 percent of what we hear and 20 percent of what we read, but 80 percent of what we see and do; and that over 80 percent of the information we absorb is visual. We intend to use LEGO to press ourselves to use that 80 percent.

Let’s say I am facing a problem in my current research/administration/teaching project, and I want to get the advice of my colleagues. I can build a model for my colleagues of where my project is now, explaining what each piece represents and how it relates to the other pieces. The building process, including the selection of the pieces and where to put them, will force me to think very precisely about my project, but in terms that are still accessible to others. I learn new things about how my project fits together, and I offer a shared point of reference or vocabulary to my colleagues. After some discussion I might be in a position build another model that is closer to where I want my project to be. I may or may not actually get there. But we will all have used more of that 80 percent.

The session was based around a worksheet, which proved to productive, albeit imperfect. Participants were give an A3 landscape printed sheet and asked to complete three builds relating to their current research or administration project. In a session lasting about 50 minutes three faculty members and three PhD researchers worked side by side through their own three builds. I filmed each person at regular intervals, asking them to explain the current state of their model to me.

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In each case the builder clearly, and visibly, discovered something about their project (a flaw, an opportunity) that helped them to move the project forward.
Comments from participants suggested that the process was ‘very useful because it made me think about planning my work in a completely different way, ie 3D and thus it was easier to see the blockages’ and ‘creative and fun and oddly comforting’ causing me to ‘stand back and look at my work more objectively (from outside?). Perhaps that’s why I found it calming.’
In the above film one of the participants, KLS researcher Joanne Pearman, uses LEGO to discover, decide and explain where her project is, why she is stuck, and how she will fix it.

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