Using skeleton arguments to improve student engagement and diversify transferrable skills: a case study

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This article discusses whether an innovative way of assessing students in a commercial law module (skeleton argument) has resulted in more widespread acquisition of a key set of transferrable skills in the learners, as well as in a better alignment to the module’s intended learning outcomes (ILOs).
Constructive alignment (CA) has attracted strong favour but also significant criticism in the pedagogic literature. Issues have been raised with regard to the real benefits to learners, especially when the pedagogical approach is imposed top-down by the teaching team. This top-down process may result in creating an illusion of quality learning, thus affecting the educational relevance of the CA approach.
This paper discusses the findings of a project carried out in a medium-sized class of 60 third-year LLB students in an elective module on commercial law. In this module, the assessment methods were tailored to meet the ILOs specified in the module description. While the CA approach was unilaterally introduced by the educator (top-down approach), the paper suggests that the inclusive and student-centred implementation of this mechanism has resulted in strong student satisfaction and better performance than traditional, non-aligned teaching methods.
The significance of this article lies in shedding light on some of the issues encountered in developing new inclusive assessment strategies in higher education law modules, but also on the benefits of new module design strategies to both learners and teaching staff.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Legal Education
Publication statusSubmitted - 11 Oct 2022


  • constructive alignment
  • alternative assessment methods
  • higher education
  • law
  • United Kingdom

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