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The Political Is Personal: Using Political Life Narratives to Engage Students

  • Sarah Combellick-Bidney (a1)
Abstract

To involve students in the process of grounding abstract concepts in their own concrete life experiences, I began working with a type of reflective exercise that I call the “political life story,” in which students create and share narratives around the political phenomena that have shaped their own lives. Building on the experiences of other political scientists who have used active-versus-passive learning to disentangle conceptual ambiguity—as well as similar best practices of student-centered pedagogy that are well established in the discipline—I offer these reflections in the spirit of deepening the conversation about methods of reflective group learning with diverse students in both classroom and online contexts. My observations reinforce the consistent finding in the wider pedagogical literature that diverse classrooms provide a conducive environment for deep learning when particular emphasis is placed on the lived experiences of students.

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References
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Alterio, Maxine, and McDrury, Janice. 2013. Learning through Storytelling in Higher Education: Using Reflection and Experience to Improve Learning. New York: Routledge.
Bates, Stephen R., and Jenkins, Laura. 2007. “Teaching and Learning Ontology and Epistemology in Political Science.” Politics 27 (1): 5563.
Gormley-Heenan, Cathy, and McCartan, Kenny. 2009. “Making It Matter: Teaching and Learning in Political Science Using an Audience Response System.” European Political Science 8: 379–91.
Guthrie, Kathy L., and McCracken, Holly. 2010. “Reflective Pedagogy: Making Meaning in Experiential-Based Online Courses.” The Journal of Educators Online 7 (2): 121.
McCarthy, James P., and Anderson, Liam. 2000. “Active Learning Techniques versus Traditional Teaching Styles: Two Experiments from History and Political Science.” Innovative Higher Education 24 (4): 279–94.
Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Montgomery, Winifred. 2001. “Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms.” Teaching Exceptional Children 33: 49.
Shingles, Richard, Becerra, Raquel, and Pencek, Bruce. 2006. “Changing Teaching Practice in a Political Science Research Methods Course Utilizing a Student-Centered Approach.” Paper presented at the 2006 APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, 180.
Van Oord, Lodewijk, and Corn, Ken. 2013. “Learning How to ‘Swallow the World’: Engaging with Human Difference in Culturally Diverse Classrooms.” Journal of Research in International Education 12 (1): 2232.
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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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