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The Interplay of Teaching, Learning and Research: Graduate Student Collaborations in Law and Psychology

Amy G. Applegate & Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, Indiana University
Friday, March 30th, Oak Room
, IMU, 11:30-1:00 p.m.

Amy Applegate, Amy Holtzman-MunroePsychology and law often intersect in the real world of family law, yet interdisciplinary training in such issues is often absent from law and psychology graduate curricula. Given Applegate and Holtzworth-Munroe’s interest in the impact of divorce on children and the potential benefits of divorce mediation, they began conducting interdisciplinary training in this area. Their collaboration involves not only class work, but also the real world experience of teaching law student mediators and psychology student consultants to work together in implementing two new forms of divorce mediation designed to help parents keep focused on the best interests of their children. This training is done in the context of a program evaluation study comparing the effectiveness of the usual divorce mediation practices with the two new forms of mediation, thus further fostering interdisciplinary research and training of students.

This presentation will share the results of a SOTL study that used psychology-based research methods to examine the impact of our interdisciplinary training program. Baseline data on our prior, non-interdisciplinary training was gathered one semester. Then, after implementing the new interdisciplinary training, we gathered data at the start and end of several semesters, allowing us to examine changes both within semesters and relative to the baseline semester.

Available data include student knowledge tests (of law and psychology) and student focus group discussions. Applegate and Holtzworth-Munroe will also discuss the challenges of an attempt to directly code changes in student behavior in divorce mediation. Overall, their program represents an integration of teaching, learning, and research in a real world setting and within a research program that provides ongoing assessment of the impact of their training.

This study was funded in part by an Indiana University Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Leadership Award.

Amy G. Applegate, a 1981 graduate of Harvard Law School, is a clinical professor of law and the director of the Viola J. Taliaferro Family and Children Mediation Clinic at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. She teaches mediation theory and practice in an interdisciplinary clinical law program that she developed at the law school. Through this program, law students provide mediation services to indigent and low-income litigants in disputed custody, parenting-time, and other family law cases. Ms. Applegate and her students also collaborate in training, research, and scholarship with clinical psychology faculty and graduate students at IU and beyond to improve existing out of court processes for high conflict families, including how to best help parents in mediation decrease their conflict and reach parenting agreements that are good for their children.

Amy Holtzworth-Munroe received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Washington in 1988. She then joined the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University - Bloomington, where she is a Professor. She has been conducting research on the problem of intimate partner violence (IPV) since the mid-1980s, including examining the social skills deficits of violent husbands and identifying and comparing subtypes of male batterers. More recently, with colleagues at the IU Law School, she has been studying divorce mediation, including research on methods of screening for IPV in mediation and intervention research comparing the effectiveness of mediation as usual to new mediation approaches involving an explicit focus on the children’s best interests. Relevant to the present study, she teaches an undergraduate service-learning course on program evaluation, a graduate class on how to research the effectiveness of psychotherapy, and therapy practica for graduate students in clinical psychology.