Kent Law School Professor Amanda Perry-Kessaris has been awarded a Faculty of Social Sciences Teaching Prize for excellence in teaching.
The £1,500 runner-up prize recognises the innovative implementation of design-driven teaching, learning and research methods by Professor Perry-Kessaris at the Law School. It also acknowledges the broader influence of her teaching practice across the University and beyond; Professor Perry-Kessaris achieved national recognition for excellence in teaching in 2017 when she was one of six UK finalists for Oxford University Press Law Teacher of the Year.
Professor Perry-Kessaris has employed her expertise in law, economics, and graphic design to engage students across all degree levels at Kent Law School. Most recently, when she was asked to redesign and extend a core module in research methods for postgraduate research (PGR) students, her aim was to enable and inspire students to conduct critical, creative and practical legal research at every stage of their research process, from conceptualization to data collection, analysis, dissemination and evaluation. With an emphasis on prototyping and experimentation, Professor Perry-Kessaris redesigned the module to incorporate collaborative tasks such as walking the Kent Labyrinth or building Lego models to help visualize complex projects and ideas.
Other tasks have been designed to be completed individually or in pairs (for example, planning and completing a field observation session; or identifying quantitative research acts) and then shared online and in class during group (design-inspired) critique sessions. Professor Perry-Kessaris is currently developing an LLM module on Legal Design (subject to approval).
The faculty prize panel at Kent, chaired by Faculty Dean Professor John Wightman, commended Professor Perry Kessaris in particular for the transformative impact of her work on PGR students. They praised her practice for engaging students in methods of working which had resulted in them becoming “less isolated” and which had “encouraged them to think differently about their research.”
Professor Perry-Kessaris began introducing design-driven techniques into her teaching of both undergraduate and postgraduate law students in 2014 when she started studying visual communication and design at the London College of Communication. She was awarded an MA in Graphic Media Design last year.
Teaching colleagues at the Law School have also been inspired to employ Professor Perry-Kessaris’s design-driven techniques through workshops on Lego-building and staff development seminars.
More widely within the University, Professor Perry-Kessaris has offered annual Graduate School Researcher Development Skills workshops on ‘Visualising social science research’ and ‘3D Modelling your research’. She also trained two PhD students from the Law School to deliver these sessions which they subsequently delivered at Kent and in Paris.
Professor Perry-Kessaris also shares her techniques for making legal research visible and tangible in the Sociolegal Model Making Project and through the Legal Treasure Project (with Lisa Dickson and Dr Sophie Vigneron.) She seeks to influence practice by making short films, tweeting and blogging.