Bridging the Expert-Novice Divide in the Political Science Classroom

22 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2013


This paper discusses the use of a collaborative learning technique called hevruta, which I have adapted for use in my introductory-level political science classroom. Hevruta, which originated in eastern European Jewish schools, helps students develop skills at weaving source materials together in order to understand complex issues within the field. Through a discussion of the literature on expert-novice studies, I explore how hevruta enables my students, who are new to political science, to move closer to the practices used by experts when exploring a range of source material. Through close observation of how the technique plays out in my classes, and analysis of a few examples of hevruta discussion by my students, I demonstrate the potential of this technique, and suggest ways it can best be employed in the classroom.

Suggested Citation

Bernstein, Jeffrey L., Bridging the Expert-Novice Divide in the Political Science Classroom. APSA 2013 Teaching and Learning Conference Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Jeffrey L. Bernstein (Contact Author)

Eastern Michigan University ( email )

601 Pray-Harrold Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
United States

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