From the desk of Adrianne Avillion, DEd, RN

Staff Development Weekly: Insight on Evidence-Based Practice in Education, May 28, 2010

Editor's note: Welcome to our new feature written by staff development expert Adrianne Avillion. Each week, Adrianne will write about an important issue in the area of staff development or answer reader questions. If you have a question for Adrianne, e-mail her at

Q: I've been reading about mock trials as an educational strategy? Is the intent just to simulate a malpractice lawsuit?

A: No, mock trials can be used as an education strategy for a variety of topics. Although the setting is a simulated courtroom-complete with people assuming the roles of judge, jury, expert witnesses, and attorneys-the approach is more of a debate used to argue the benefits of one treatment approach over another, one communication intervention versus another, etc.

For example, you can use a mock trail to teach about two new treatment options for bipolar disorder. Learners serve as members of the jury and staff development specialists act as the two opposing attorneys. Other staff members are trained to act as expert witnesses and the judge.

The attorneys present their viewpoints for one or the other treatment option, calling expert witnesses to support their claims. Each attorney has the opportunity to cross-examine the other attorney's witnesses. The jury is supplied with research articles and other materials relevant to the discussion. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury decides which treatment option, in their opinion, is best.

There are many variations on this approach and it is a fun way to learn.

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