Elements of DR Courses

Last summer, we updated the DRLE website by posting 122 recent DR syllabi.  As I collected and organized the syllabi, I was curious if there were any patterns in the elements of the syllabi.  My colleague, Rafael Gely, who directs our Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution, and I arranged for our CSDR Fellow, Shawnequa (“Nikki”) Clark, to code various elements in the syllabi.  This document shows the detailed data and this post summarizes some of the highlights.

First, we should note that this reflects the syllabi that colleagues graciously agreed to share.  Thus is not a census or a random sample of DR syllabi and the syllabi do not necessarily include all the elements in the courses, but I suspect that this data provides a reasonably good approximation of how faculty structure their DR courses.  In any case, it can give you a sense of how colleagues teach the same subject you do and some ideas you might incorporate in your courses in the future.

  • 86% of courses use one instructor, though 17% of negotiation syllabi and 26% of mediation syllabi list two or more instructors.
  • 75% of syllabi do not include a policy about use of laptops in class, though laptops are prohibited in 11% of survey courses and 14% of negotiation courses.  Instructors have policies limiting the use of laptops in 26% of survey courses, 15% of mediation courses, and 10% of negotiation courses.
  • There is a required final exam in 23% of courses, including 53% of survey courses and 46% of arbitration courses.
  • There is an in-class final exam in 13% of courses, including 42% of survey courses.  There is a take-home exam in 13% of courses, including 46% of arbitration courses.
  • Students are required to write a final paper in 43% of courses, including 59% of negotiation courses, 46% of arbitration courses, and 37% of mediation courses.
  • Students are required to keep journals in 18% of courses, including 34% of negotiation courses and 30% of mediation courses.
  • In 9% of courses, students are required to observe a court, mediation, arbitration or other proceeding.  This mostly occurs in mediation courses (30%).
  • Students write short papers in 45% of courses including negotiation (55%), survey (53%), and mediation (48%) courses.
  • Students do graded class presentations in 37% of mediation courses and 38% of “other” courses.
  • In 24% of negotiation courses, students are required to participate in a reputation index process, but not in any other courses.
  • In 20% of courses, students are graded based, in part, on their performance in class simulations, including 28% of negotiation courses and 26% of mediation courses.
  • Class participation is part of the final grade in 65% of courses. In 41% of the courses, participation counts 11-30% of the grade.
  • Faculty require a wide range of texts.  Getting to Yes clearly is the most popular, being required in 13 negotiation courses, 4 mediation courses, and 2 survey courses.

We did not code language about the goals and objectives described in the syllabi.  Obviously, faculty put a lot of thought into this and it would be interesting to analyze colleagues’ visions about what they hope to accomplish in their courses.  It is worth analyzing this language, which would be a good project for interested faculty or students.

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