Beyond descriptions and good practices: empirical effects on students’ learning outcomes of active learning environments in political science curricula

Abstract

The introduction of the symposium sets out a possible research agenda on producing systematic empirical evidence of the effect of active learning tools to the discipline of political science, inspired by and drawing from educational research. It discusses the core research questions of such an agenda. Do active learning environments enhance political science students’ learning outcomes? Does the introduction of active learning in political science curricula make a difference for cognitive, affective, and/or regulative learning outcomes? In addition, it draws attention upon which conditions make active learning tools more or less effective? What are the inhibiting and stimulating factors? Are there differential effects according to specific student attributes such as gender, prior knowledge, prior education, or prior results? In short, it discusses the dependent variables (effects on what learning outcomes exactly), the independent variables (such as student dispositions), the intervening variable (types of active learning environments), methods and data, and the teaching context (such as level of education and intra- and extra-curricular contexts). Finally, we introduce the papers of the symposium, which are illustrations of how this agenda can be implemented in the field, covering a variety of effects, learning environments, methods, data, and contexts.

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Correspondence to Dorothy Duchatelet.

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Duchatelet, D., Bursens, P., Usherwood, S. et al. Beyond descriptions and good practices: empirical effects on students’ learning outcomes of active learning environments in political science curricula. Eur Polit Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-020-00259-w

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Keywords

  • Active learning
  • Learning outcomes
  • Political science teaching
  • Simulations