We also believe that the research into student and lawyer wellbeing here is immensely important, and needs opportunities to be implemented into teaching programs.
Michelle Worthington (BA '03, LLB '03, LLM '08) and Justine Poon have used funding from The ANU Fund to run a series of essay writing workshops for ANU Law students.
They want to help students bring a sense of joy to their essay writing, and their legal studies more broadly.
“There is a lot of research which shows that law students in particular suffer from unusually high levels of psychological distress,” Justine says.
“We wanted to find a way to help promote law student wellbeing, and these workshops were the result.
“We take the idea of the ANU College of Law as being the law school that emphasises law reform and social justice very seriously.
“We want to help equip our students with a sense of agency, as well as the critical thinking and writing skills that will help them to be true reformers.
“We also believe that the research into student and lawyer wellbeing here is immensely important, and needs opportunities to be implemented into teaching programs.”
The scholars fused that research into a total of 12 hours of workshops, delivered in three streams to first- and second-year law students.
“Our goal with this was to offer some useful tips that could be immediately implemented by the students, and to encourage them in a broader sense to be deliberate in thinking about their values, their ideas and their voice,” Michelle says.
Student feedback has been positive.
“[It] encouraged me to argue for what I believe in and find my voice,” one student wrote.
Another said: "I really had no idea how to put my values into writing, especially if I had no interest in the topic, but this workshop allowed me to see that I could do this in my writing - and that would make the process more enjoyable and worthwhile."
One older student noted much had changed in the 30 years since someone had first explained an essay to them, its purpose and how to think about a question.
“Michelle and Justine were able to tailor the course and due to size fit in some other info about how to think about problem questions,” the student wrote.
“So helpful when having mid-semesters at roughly the same time. I cannot express my thanks to all that made this course possible it was excellent."
Educators, Michelle and Justine, say their course would not be possible without the alumni who’ve contributed to The ANU Fund.
“We are thrilled that The ANU Fund values and supports research, education and student wellbeing, and that we were given the opportunity to develop and deliver these workshops,” Justine says.
“We believe that the workshop benefited the students who participated, and had the added effect of helping us to develop our skills as researchers and educators.
“We are looking forward to making these workshops available again, and developing other programs.”