Student Engagement on the Cheap: Small-Scale Active Learning Components in the American Government Course
26 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2013
Date Written: January 23, 2013
This paper discusses the incorporation of several short real-world oriented active learning activities – volunteering or attendance at live political events, short online activities and an experimental Congress simulation – in the General Education American Government & Politics course in the Fall 2013 term. The goal of the project was to assess the efficacy of activities that are easily designed and reasonable in implementation, even with heavy course loads and large student populations. Feedback was obtained through a detailed supplemental course evaluation, assessment of student performance on course components relating to the activities, and informal observations (my observations, plus insights by students during debriefing). For the most part the activities proved both manageable and, at least initially, valuable to the course objectives. Activities were created, assigned, completed and graded with only modest increases to instructor workload, and – subject to caveats discussed below – a reasonable increase in demands on students. In subsequent terms similar active learning components will be utilized in the class, and further data will be obtained to more closely assess the impact on learning outcomes.
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