Evaluation

There are 4 opportunities for graded feedback: One blog commentary, an experiential site visit, a comprehensive final exam, and a property-related dispute resolution quiz.

Yes, this class requires the inevitable final exam. It is a three-hour, open-book exam, and is worth 60% of your grade for the course.

Your exam will be evaluated on the extent to which responses to each question are:

  • thorough & responsive (do you analyze the key issues, and focus on relevant discussion?),
  • accurate & insightful (do you apply the law correctly, and evaluate issues deeply?),
  • clear & organized (is your answer well structured, articulate and properly referenced?) and
  • generally impressive (do you demonstrate understanding of the subject, or show creativity?).

Because of the heavy weighting of the final exam, I won’t let you write it unprepared. We do a dress rehearsal a few weeks before the final. This is for practice, not for marks. After I draft and share model answers for you, we use an interactive process of self-evaluation and strategic discussion to provide feedback and prepare you for the real thing.

Download past exams, along with answers in memos to students, right here:

Another 10% of your grade will be based on one short writing exercise that gives you the chance to respond critically to the course content, preparing you for the exam as we go along.

This is due by 16:00 sharp, on Monday October 9, to be uploaded via our Brightspace page. Late assignments will not be accepted.

Responses are short commentaries (~ 750 words) that capture your understanding of and personal reaction to the property topics that we’re covering in the classroom and their connection to recent experiences or current events happening around the world. It should be an intelligent, substantive, engagement with the both the course materials and the experience or event. A response can be: a well-argued opinion, a comparison with other materials in this course or another; a critique; a suggestion for social or legal reform. It can include: relevant references to current events, history, politics, art, media, or personal experience. A response cannot be: a description or a summary of the materials or event.

While your response must not merely describe the course materials and discussion, it should still engage with the course materials and discussion. It should not be a response to an issue in general or in contexts only tangentially related to course materials and discussion.

Because you have little time and space in which to convey your thoughts on important topics and complex issues, I suggest that you focus your responses. The materials themselves are wide-ranging. I strongly encourage you to choose one particular issue, rather than trying to cover everything that could be said in response. The more specific the issue you address, and the more precisely you address a particular aspect of that issue, the better.

The format of your response is less important than the substance. For example, you may use any style of referencing and citation that you wish. You should, however, take special care to edit and proofread your response as thoroughly as possible before submitting it. The care you take in completing the assignment reflects the seriousness of your effort.

Here’s how you’ll be graded on the response:

  • 0 – Incomplete
  • 2 – Very poor (purely descriptive, incoherent, unreadable)
  • 4 – Poor (somewhat descriptive, evidently rushed, unpersuasive, poorly written)
  • 6 – Good (somewhat expressive, reasonably persuasive, adequately written)
  • 8 – Very good (very expressive, evidently thoughtful, persuasive, well written)
  • 10 – Outstanding (highly creative, brilliantly insightful, engaging, perfectly written)

A further 20% of your grade is determined by your performance on an group-based experiential learning activity, which will take place the week of October 23-27.

The assignments will be completed in groups of FIVE. All members of the 5-person team will be assigned the same mark for this assignment. You will rarely work on a legal project in solitude; most often you will work with other lawyers, or with other professionals and experts such as accountants, real estate agents, engineers, social workers, police, Indigenous governments or business people. Collaboratively developing an argument or project, and dividing the labour of research and writing, and advocacy is an important skillset.

There are two components to the experiential learning activity: (1) experiential learning activity and (2) the written component. One copy of each part of the two-part assignment must be handed in per group. Full details, including more detailed instructions will be released on Brightspace in early October.

In the experiential component, you will visit one of three or four pre-selected sites in Ottawa. All of the sites have been chosen because they are easy to reach, and we hope accessible to everyone. Please inform your professor immediately if you face barriers to travelling to these venues. We will provide you with an accessible option based on your particular barriers. It is up to you to organize your group, and get yourselves to the site, with the equipment required to complete your project.

In the written component, you will prepare a memorandum of law answering the questions as they appear in the package of information provided for your selected site. You will find all packages with questions on Brightspace. The questions are intended to test your substantive knowledge, and to provoke thoughtful and critical analysis.

The memorandum must be approximately 1000-1500 words, and presented in a more formal tone and manner than your blog commentary. While your blog commentary is evaluated for reflectiveness and creativity, your memorandum is evaluated for accuracy and analysis.

Here’s how you’ll be graded on the response:

  • 0 – Incomplete
  • 2 – Very poor (inaccurate, incoherent, unreadable)
  • 4 – Poor (somewhat accurate, shallow, poorly written)
  • 6 – Good (somewhat expressive, reasonably detailed, adequately written)
  • 8 – Very good (very accurate, very detailed, well written)
  • 10 – Outstanding (perfectly accurate, deeply insightful, perfectly written)

When conducting external or secondary research, please stay within the scope of the material covered in class and on your syllabus (including Brightspace). You may find supporting documentation as external or secondary research but as a group you are responsible to discern whether it is relevant. External or secondary research may include academic, legal or journalistic sources. The relevance, depth, and integrity of your research will impact your grade.

The final 10% will be determined by an examination of property-related subject matter, self-taught during the January term, integrated into your Dispute Resolution course. All details about that assignment should be directed to your Dispute Resolution instructors.

Finally, a note about grading guidelines and procedures: Grades will be distributed in accordance with the Faculty of Common Law’s Academic Regulations. This means that the average GPA will be between 5.6 and 6.4 (a B average). Note that these regulations are applicable only to final grades.

In accordance with a Faculty-wide policy on accommodating special circumstances, late submission of assignments and requests for exam deferrals cannot be accepted unless prior express approval has been obtained from either Academic Affairs (for non-equity related reasons) or Student Services (for equity related reasons). Please be aware that in order to protect students’ interests all Common Law Professors lack discretionary authority to make special accommodations in individual circumstances. Arrangements must be made directly with the relevant manager listed above.