Mock Trial Activity Page

Kevin Svitana, Otterbein College
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This is the capstone activity for the development, preparation and execution of a mock trial. This module is the actual enactment of a mock trial in front of a jury of peers so that students can experience communicating science to a lay audience in a courtroom setting.

Used this activity? Share your experiences and modifications

Learning Goals

The goal of this module is to provide students the experience of executing an actual trial where they take scientific principles they learned from earlier modules to the educate and convince a jury of their position. Since there is no script provided for this activity, it truly gives students a "real world" sense of how learning and communicating scientific issues are applied.

Context for Use

This should be the capstone experience for this activity. It should occur at the end of the learning term as more or less the final activity (other than the trial review and debriefing that can occur at the conclusion of the verdict).

Description and Teaching Materials

The Mock Trial should be executed is formally and professionally as possible. Utilizing a judge who is external of the previous class activities, particularly one who may be a practicing judge or attorney will lend to the formality and credibility of the mock trial. Dressing up the courtroom, video recording the mock trial all depend on teaching budgets and resources. It is also important that students realize their appearance in the courtroom (in dress and manners) effects their perceived credibility.

Teaching Notes and Tips

If preparation was successful, execution of the mock trial should go smoothly. The instructor should be prepared to troubleshoot as the trial unfolds in order to keep students on time, anticipating audio-visual malfunctions and lack of preparation on the part of those involved in the role-play.


The mock trial should conclude with jurors stating why they decided to vote as they did, indicating what influenced their decisions and how the information was interpreted by them. This debrief is probably the most accurate assessment of the trial role-play.

References and Resources

To view The Ohio State mock trial go to Resource Collections and click on the video clip link.

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