Law-Related Education With a Developmental Design
Project LEAD has been proven effective.
A team of researchers conducted an evaluation of the program to gauge its impact on students’ knowledge and attitudes about the legal system, as well as Project LEAD’s capacity as a delinquency prevention model.
The results of the study showed that Project LEAD students gain important “protective factors.” Project LEAD gives students the skills and experience to evaluate challenging situations and make good decisions. The program also helps students gain an understanding of the legal system and the reasons behind laws.
The Project LEAD evaluation was conducted by academic researchers with experience in civic and law-related education studies.
The study used a quasi-experimental design:
- Pre and post testing of students using validated items
- Matched comparison/intervention groups
- Teacher interviews
- Facilitator interviews
- Student interviews and assessments of problem-solving/decision-making skills
The evaluation covered several areas:
- Student outcomes
- Satisfaction of teachers and facilitators with Project LEAD
- Fidelity of implementation
- Practices that could be attributed to student outcomes
Project LEAD provides:
- Protective factors that decrease students’ propensity to become involved in negative and illegal activities.
- An increase in students’ knowledge about the legal system.
- An increase in positive dispositions in students:
- Confidence in their own decision-making capacities.
- Attitudes about the legal system.
- Attitudes about authority.
Key Practices Embedded in Project LEAD:
- Active learning strategies are incorporated throughout the curriculum.
- Students participate in discussions with facilitators and peers about issues that matter to them.
- Students form bonds with adult role models from the legal field.
- Lessons focus on refusal skills, which have been proven to be an effective approach to resisting peer pressure.
- Students learn how the law and legal system apply to contemporary issues, including respect for diversity, consequences of illicit drug use and anti-bullying.
- The curriculum culminates with a scripted mock trial, when students practice taking part in democratic processes through simulation and role-play activities.