When I started as a postgrad student at Edinburgh University English Literature Dept way back in the late 1970s one of the many classes we didn't get and should have had, was on structuring our research projects. I remember at one group meeting being told by a lecturer about his rather complicated boxfile card index system for references that somehow involved knitting needles and punched holes in wee cards -- I never quite got the hang of it though no doubt it worked for him. But nothing on how you get the big picture of what you're doing. I asked a couple of other PhD students, and their answers didn't inspire confidence. I'd been used to turning out 2,000 word essays every two weeks as an Honours undergrad; but how did you plan a 120,000-word piece of work?
In Transforming Legal Education I describe what transactional learning is, its qualities and how it can be facilitated in legal curricula. It derives from John Dewey's concept of learning as a transaction between self and the world, though the term has other connotations in the domain of professional learning. There are other, constellated terms around this key concept. For the last 20 years or so, for instance, cognitive scientists, constructivists and other have been investigating the phenomenon known as transactive memory systems (TMSs). Just finished reading Michinov & Michinov's interesting article in the latest number of Learning and Instruction [refs below -- most recent journal number still to be posted up...] on the subject, and I want to summarise some of what they describe there, and suggest the value that the research concept has for legal educators.