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Overcoming Barriers to Heterogeneous-Group Learning in the Political Science Classroom

  • Ryan T. Moore (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

Despite positive findings, small-group activities continue to lag behind lectures in political science classrooms. This article argues that one barrier to wider adoption of more innovative activities is uncertainty about how to efficiently and fairly create teams that each are heterogeneous and as a set are balanced across relevant characteristics. We first describe recent findings and strategies for creating teams; we then detail our concrete, general approach for incorporating several student characteristics into team creation. We then describe implementations of this approach using freely available software in two undergraduate political science courses—one in American politics and one in political methodology. In these applications and in a variety of simulated data, we demonstrate that teams created using our method are better balanced than those created by randomly allocating students to teams.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Victor Asal , and Elizabeth L. Blake . 2006. “Creating Simulations for Political Science Education.” Journal of Political Science Education 2 (1): 118.

Elizabeth A Bennion . 2006. “Civic Education and Citizen Engagement: Mobilizing Voters as a Required Field Experiment.” Journal of Political Science Education 2 (2): 205–27.

Keith Boeckelman , Janna L. Deitz , and Richard J. Hardy . 2008. “Organizing a Congressional Candidate Debate as Experiential Learning.” Journal of Political Science Education 4 (4): 435–46.

Kenneth A Bruffee . 1984. “Collaborative Learning and the ‘Conversation of Mankind’.” College English 46 (7): 635–52.

James L. Cooper , and Pamela Robinson . 2000. “The Argument for Making Large Classes Seem Small.” New Directions for Teaching and Learning 2000 (81): 516.

David Doherty . 2011. “Teaching Experimental Methods: A Framework for Hands-On Modules.” Journal of Political Science Education 7: 163–72.

Andrew Gelman , and Deborah Nolan . 2002. Teaching Statistics: A Bag of Tricks. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rebecca A Glazier . 2011. “Running Simulations without Ruining Your Life: Simple Ways to Incorporate Active Learning into Your Teaching.” Journal of Political Science Education 7 (4): 375–93.

Patricia Heller , and Mark Hollabaugh . 1992. “Teaching Problem Solving through Cooperative Grouping. Part 2: Designing Problems and Structuring Groups.” American Journal of Physics 60 (7): 637–44.

Steven F Jackson . 2013. “Political Simulations Using Excel.” Journal of Political Science Education 9 (2): 209–21.

Philip H. Pollock , Kerstin Hamann , and Bruce M. Wilson . 2011. “Learning through Discussions: Comparing the Benefits of Small-Group and Large-Class Settings.” Journal of Political Science Education 7 (1): 4864.

Sharon Werning Rivera , and Janet Thomas Simons . 2008. “Engaging Students through Extended Simulations.” Journal of Political Science Education 4 (3): 298316.

John M Rothgeb . 2013. “The Efficacy of Learning Teams: A Comparative Analysis.” Journal of Political Science Education 9 (3): 336–44.

Leonard Springer , Mary Elizabeth Stanne , and Samuel S. Donovan . 1999. “Effects of Small-Group Learning on Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology: A Meta-Analysis.” Review of Educational Research 69 (1): 2151.

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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