From Classroom to Community: An Assessment and Potential Implications of an Undergraduate Civic Engagement Research and Learning Program
By Matt Lamb, Texas Tech University, Steven Perry, Rice University, and Alan Steinberg, West Houston Association
Civic engagement is the essential element of any participatory democracy. As political scientists lament participation rates in the US that are not as high as they could be, scholars and educators have sought out ways to make college campuses more conducive to the type of experiential learning that may increase the propensity to engage in civic life. Many educators have incorporated a service and experiential learning framework into their curricula with positive results, however, the merits of an institutionalized, co-curricular civic engagement program warrant further analysis. In the paper Classroom to Community: An Assessment and Potential Implications of an Undergraduate Civic Engagement Research and Learning Program, we assess the Houston Action Research Teams (HART) program, a unique civic engagement program administered by the Center for Civic Leadership at Rice University. In the HART undergraduate students form teams to research a problem or issue brought to them from a third party community partner. We analyze student evaluations of the program to assess students outcomes from participation in the program. We find that students especially appreciated the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary setting, as well as the ability to apply skills learned in the classroom to a “real world” problem.
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.