Why Do Students Enroll in Political Science Courses?
by Jonas B. Bunte, University of Texas at Dallas
Why do students enroll in political science courses? Jonas Bunte conducted an experiment to find out. The experiment involved visiting several sections of Introduction to American Government courses. In each section, I advertised a political science course offered in the following semester. However, I varied the way in which the course was described and subsequently tracked whether students enrolled in it. The findings suggest that political science departments can attract students by advertising courses as an opportunity to learn “how the world works and how it relates to students.” This framing has a positive and significant effect on the likelihood of students enrolling. Emphasizing how political science classes shed light on current events also might increase enrollments, although the findings were less robust and the effect was smaller in magnitude. Importantly, framing political science courses as opportunities to develop skills did not appear to increase enrollment.