EQ/CQ Project

Emotional and Cultural Quotient is a research project focused on developing the e-learning modules and training tools to support a virtual law firm in which law students, acting in the role of lawyers, are trained in Emotional and Cultural Competencies (EQ/CQ) in the practice of law.

EQ/CQ module slides
EQ/CQ module slides

E-Learning Module Sample

The e-learning module provides users with the opportunity to immerse themselves in a guided character-driven story.  Learners are prompted to deliberate on various aspects of the advising role that touch on emotional or cultural competencies. Interactive quizzes keep the learner engaged, and serve as springboards for further contemplation and study.

About the Project

Our research project was made possible with the support of an ECampusOntario grant. This grant contributes to the evolution of teaching and learning by responding to emerging tech and the development of state-of-the art online courses and programs.

In developing new ways to deliver professional legal education, Dr. Graben’s work explores the difficulties of creating change and experimentation using new learning methods. She has undertaken curricular reforms aimed at engaging with Ontario’s Integrated Practice Curriculum, the inclusion of technology skills as a central requirement of legal practice, but also technology as a means to develop innovative education. These reforms reflect an undertaking to develop practice-based education and to teach students to think critically about the impact of legal information. This is an approach that teaches students to identify how law and legal services can be fundamentally altered by training in topics that are not normally considered to be something that can be taught.

One of the first projects Graben has used to probe the capacity to design curriculum for changing legal needs has been the design of an e-learning module on emotional and cultural competency. 

There is an increasing call for lawyers and paralegals to exhibit emotional and cultural intelligence in their practices. Professionals who understand and can control their emotions, and are able to identify, appreciate, and adjust to the emotional and cultural dimensions of the behaviours and motivations of others, will be in a better position to serve their clients.

In this context, the legal profession continues to develop relevant training programs and professional requirements, but progress has been slow. One example of a contemporary resource is the e-learning module, which offers practitioners an opportunity to learn about emotional and cultural intelligence at their own pace. 

The challenge with developing e-learning modules for legal professionals is that designers cannot merely address the needs of those professionals. Designers must also account for the needs of clients to whom those professionals are ultimately responsible. While there may be only one “official” user of an e-learning module, there are at least two distinct groups of beneficiaries whose needs and expectations often differ. These two audiences arise from professionalism and ethical obligations imposed onto legal professionals by their governing bodies.

Accordingly, this project was centred around user-based design, aimed at addressing the problems identified not only by legal professionals as learners, but also users of legal services. The creation of e-learning modules in law has faced particular difficulties with integrating user-based design. User-based design is an iterative process that places at the forefront the user and their needs at the forefront of the design process, in contrast to traditional instructional design models where a problem is identified and a solution is created which users are merely invited to accept or reject. 

In applying user-based design principles to our project, we put a heavy focus on disseminating an authentic user experience. The process of designing authentic scenarios presents an instructional challenge as it can be difficult to anticipate the responses of the target learners. Subject matter experts were consulted to ensure that underlying concepts and situations remained current and authentic.

We set out to develop online materials in support of a virtual law firm environment: law students, acting in the role of lawyers, would receive training in emotional and cultural skills and competencies within a simulated practice setting. More specifically, our e-learning module challenges students to consider how they will respond at each of various points in a client interaction. Immediate feedback is provided in response to a choice of action. Instructional text and material support the learning experience. 

Overall, the e-learning module project reflects an engaging way of assisting in the law student’s development of client relationship and management skills. This experiential training exercise acts as a creative supplement to formal training methods.

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Sari Graben

Sari Graben

Associate Dean Research & Graduate Studies; Associate Professor