If there's an advocacy topic you want to see discussed, or about which you wish to contribute, contact one of the blog administrators - see the list on the right side of this page. Lonely thinking changes nothing, sharing your thoughts may start a trend.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Value of Open-Ended Questions: A Drill

The following blog entry and drill is courtesy of Jack Nevin. Jack is a trial judge in Pierce County, Washington; an adjunct professor of trial advocacy and military law at Seattle University School of Law; and a retired Brigadier General in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Who Am I? An Advocacy Drill

Using only open-ended questions, students must examine the instructor, who plays the role of a witness, to determine who the witness is and what happened. The scenario we present is a child who witnesses a possible crime at their school.

Setting Up the Drill

First we characterize direct examination as the most important part of the advocate's case.

Next, we focus on the importance of open ended questions which allows the witness to tell their story.

Running the Drill

The students are told literally nothing, and are required through the use of open ended questions, to determine who the witness is and to identify their situation. The teacher should have a story in mind, so they are not inconsistent in their responses to the students. The students are limited to questions beginning with who, what, where, when, how, describe, list, "tell me about", or any other open ended word. Since the teacher conducting the drill is an adult, the students don't usually pick up the age (10) until later in their questioning. If they stay with open ended questions they can usually identify the name, age, and location (school hall) early on. By staying with the open ended questions, they can learn what happened to whom, and what the sequence of events was.

Aftermath and Follow-Up
Thereafter we ask the students to tell the professor what happened. If successful they can identify the child by name, state his age, and what happened at the school that day.

This exercise shows the students that they can learn literally everything they need to know by open ended questions. It also shows the importance of open ended questions and of course gives them the necessary practice.

No comments:

Post a Comment