Squaring the circle: exploring the use of reading circles to encourage law students to read

Helen Rutherford, Jennifer Taylor

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Reading is the fundamental foundation of a law degree yet many students seem to avoid exploring beyond the lecture notes and core text. We wanted to encourage independent research, wide reading, active participation and used a new module on Inquests to explore if reading circles encouraged students to be self-directed learners, to engage on a deeper level and to take a greater responsibility for their own education within the subject matter of the module. The new module was designed in 2014 for an undergraduate law degree programme with the aim to involve much student-chosen reading. The module was designed not to be prescriptive in its content and to enable students to tailor their study, and what they wrote for the final assessment, with regard to their specific interests. Reading circles have their roots in literature circles, or book groups, that were first described by Daniels in 1994. Literature circles have been renamed by Jane Gee “reading circles” as a way to widen their applicability beyond traditional literature teaching. However, the prefix is not crucial because it is the “circles” element of the method that is important. This paper will explain the method, how we implemented the method within a law module, our early observations and reflections and how we intend to adapt the approach within the module.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2017
EventSocio-Legal Studies Association Conference 2017 - Newcastle, UK
Duration: 5 Apr 2017 → …


ConferenceSocio-Legal Studies Association Conference 2017
Period5/04/17 → …
Internet address


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