Two thirds of undergrads think tutors should stop picking on students for answers when teaching ‘hard subjects’ like rape

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Exclusive research: But lawyers disagree

Sixty-eight percent of undergraduate law students think tutors and lecturers should rely on voluntary contributions instead of picking on students for answers in classes on rape and other hard topics.

Legal Cheek’s exclusive survey asked hundreds of law students and lawyers whether they think the ‘cold calling’ phenomena — or the ‘Socratic method’ to give it its formal name — is the right teaching style to adopt when tackling sensitive topics.

Survey results (undergraduate law students)

With more than two thirds answering in the negative, a high number of undergraduates also provided us with comments to explain their vote.

While there were comments applauding the teaching style for allowing students to be more active and engaged, another said: “Tutors may end up picking on a student who has been raped or abused. Students should not be forced to relive a traumatic memory.” Other commenters said: “It is unfair to put [students] on the spot”; and “Hard topics can be distressing enough without wondering if your name will be called.”

The latest comments from across Legal Cheek

However what did come through in the comments is many surveyees were just not big fans of the Socratic style of teaching, regardless of what tutorial or lecture it’s being adopted in. Picking on students generally can make them feel anxious and disconnected; one respondent continued:

“The Socratic method works wonders, but I feel that running the risk of a ‘poor choice’ could run in opposition to an environment of inclusive learning under these circumstances.”

Distaste for the teaching style persists beyond undergraduate degree level.

Sixty-five percent of postgraduate students and non-law students also answered ‘No’ when asked: ‘Should law tutors and lecturers cold call students — pick on them for answers when they don’t have their hands raised — when teaching hard subjects?’

However, the results flip when you discount students altogether and instead filter the results by lawyers (defined as paralegals, academics, solicitors, barristers and ‘Other’). Fifty-two percent of these think tutors and lecturers should cold call students in these circumstances, commenters saying this method keeps students on their toes and gives teachers an idea of how well the subject is being understood by their pupils.

Survey results (lawyers)

Overall, 39% of the 600 survey respondents think cold calling should be adopted in rape law classes, meaning 61% do not.

This follows Legal Cheek research published last week again on the best way to teach hard subjects, but this on the value of trigger warnings. This has shown that 48% of undergraduate law students want their tutors and lecturers to use trigger warnings when teaching hard subjects, while 52% do not.

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cold calling is a crap way to teach any subject. spending a tutorial in fear is hardly productive is it?


s.32 Salmon Act 1986

Sure. Until 5 years later you’re in client meetings every day knowing that a client could call on you at any moment to explain an issue, and you are a bundle of nerves because university didn’t expose you to that scenario because you didn’t want to experience fear, so now you are totally unprepared.

Things that are at risk if you don’t know the answer when called upon:
– While at Uni: literally nothing, other than your feelings. You are there to learn.
– In a client meeting: The client relationship and (if you screw up badly/regularly enough) your job. Obvs your feelings too, but nobody cares.



Well do the reading then…


s.32 Salmon Act 1986

Yes. Also, as someone who didn’t do all the reading and was regularly called upon, there is something to be said for the skill of learning to freestyle a competent-sounding non-answer. You would be amazed how necessary that becomes in a legal career.



Cold calling is a form of formative assessment. Why do you think the lecturer finding out what knowledge students have, and adjusting their teaching accordingly is a crap way to teach?



Read up on the bloody subject or man up, TWIT. Idiots with your attitude drive down standards.




Where will it end???






People need to get out of their comfort zone and learn that you need to let a wound air in order for it to fully heal.

I would go one further and say that lecturers should do a bit of research and a trawl of social media to attempt to target students who may provide a controversial reaction.



I totally agree. For example I used to be quite self-wary about the size of my breasts. My boyfriend insisted I sunbathe topless one holiday on a relatively crowded beach. I actually felt very comfortable and it was a liberating experience. Exactly the same applies here – until the teacher pulls them outside of their comfort zone (for their own good) they will always be held back.



This is utterly ridiculous.

I can understand if you have maybe had personal trauma in relation to the subject, if so I’m sure you can probably have a a word with your tutor beforehand. But for the vast majority of people they need to grow up and stop being so overly sensitive. If any if my classmates at uni ever said anything like this I would instantly lose a significant amount of any respect I had for them.



What a bunch of SNOWFLAKES. The world is becoming more and more full of these BETA, good-for-nothing LOSERS.

It is the PARENTS that are to blame. I was ALWAYS sure to teach my daughter not to tip-toe around SERIOUS topics. People need to DISCUSS these issues or else we will live in a world where MORE people get RAPED because they do not discuss RAPE.



Can we DISCUSS your BIZARRE capitalisations?



What is your PROBLEM?



A nessessary skill for lawyers is objectivity and immutable rationality.

Being raped yourself (which seems to have a very wide definition these days) should not for instance in any way prejudice or colour your ability to defend your client rapist clients.

If you want to be a vacuous ideologue get another job.



Client rapists are pretty bad clients.



How many rape cases do you think the average Slaughter & May partner has dealt with in their career? This argument seems so bloody weird to me given that 99% of lawyers will never have anything to do with a rape trial.


S&M Partner

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


Just Anonymous

This research does suggest a rather effective way of cutting down on pupillage applications.

Simply ask applicants whether (for example) they agree with the concept of trigger warnings.

If they do, their application goes into the bin instantly.



Cuck snowflakes wanting protection from everything. Weakness is a terrible trait in a lawyer.

I hope they choke on their avocado on toast.


Peekin van der Snatch

Another shoutout to



Phillip Phagharty-Whetpance

When I first came to England from Ireland I was viciously bullied because of my name.

I ended up a chronic bedwetter. Drynites would have made life so much easier but they didn’t exist back in the 1980s.

To this day I can’t work out why I got picked on because of my name.


Bully Boy

Haa haa!



Benjamin Dover

You think YOU had a hard time at school…????


Phil McCrackin

Why do people like you always have to spoil these comment sections with your trolling?


Mike Hunt QC

It’s disgraceful!



If you don’t want to be picked on, put your hand up!


Judge Dredd

Law students presumably read the prospectus and/or course outline in advance? If they are not comfortable studying the more sensitive areas of the criminal law, why are they there? If they go into practice they can’t choose what offence their client is charged with or what cases they are instructed to prosecute.
What do those who don’t like the Socratic approach really dislike about It? It encourages preparation and being ready to argue a point. If the student gets it wrong, they will learn from that. How else do students think they can check their learning? Spoonfeeding and prizes for all does not create lawyers who are much use to clients. What do these students think happens in court when the judge asks advocates to explain their case or how they distinguish the authorities on the point from their own position? Presumably they will stay silent, make lots of notes or say they aren’t comfortable answering those sort of questions. How about job interviews? Pathetic.



At school, the learning experience is predominantly teacher led, students like this. At university, the learning experience isn’t predominantly lecturer led, and that’s the problem, too many of today’s students aren’t ready for a learning experience that requires them to have a significant input to their own learning.


Brexit brittain

What are the other hard topics?
Mortgage possession cases?
All out of bounds I assume



Dare it be suggested that academics might know better how to teach than their hungover freshers? Might it be right to discuss, challenge, and reformulate thinking and learning?


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