Creative Pedagogy in IR Examination. When Fiction Unleashes the Learning Process

Creative Pedagogy in IR Examination. When Fiction Unleashes the Learning Process

By Frédéric Ramel, Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI CNRS) and Anaëlle Vergonjeanne, Sciences Po, Center for International Studies (CERI CNRS)

Several researchers showed that students tend to memorize more easily what they see compared with what they read. This is particularly true for millennial generations, who are attracted by images and numerical culture. Many analysis insist as well on the use of non-reading materials for integrating knowledge. Using fiction to evaluate students provides insights on improving this engagement in the learning process and their knowledge acquisition. Drawing on a course at Sciences Po Paris dedicated to IR normative theory and given for five years at Sciences Po Paris for Master students, this paper argues for the added value of creative fictional writing by students in assimilating philosophical concepts and familiarizing themselves with authors. Using both quantitative and qualitative analysis with five cohorts, both surveyed and interviewed in focus groups, it builds on in-depth feedback from a large sample of students. A very clear majority saw in this exercise an undeniable contribution to their academic background. Indeed, when asked, “Do you believe that kind of exercise was somehow beneficial to your education?”, 84,3% of surveyed students answered positively. Overall, two main results came out of it: there was a general adhesion from the students to the pedagogical format of the exam, and it helped them develop practical skills which they were able to mobilize again later in their curriculum or work, especially research. It appears that beyond long-term familiarization of students with authors and practical skills improvement, such exercise enhances their creativity and self-esteem by releasing their imaginations. As a former student pointed out: “Although it was the exercise I was most afraid of, it turned out that I passed it well, which proved to me that I could trust my theoretical knowledge but also my critical and creative spirit. It is absolutely necessary to continue doing this and extend it to other disciplines in order to “re-enchant” our learning and rekindle our curiosity, our thirst for knowledge, and to maintain this creative spirit”.

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The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.


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