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Political Participation Exercises as a Means to Teach Civic Skills, Engage Students and Recruit Majors
Unformatted Document Text:  students, most of whom were non-majors, seeking to take the class as a breadth requirement for a Bachelors in Education. They were asked to complete two participation assignments, each worth 15% of the total course grade. They were given the option of writing a letter to a local newspaper, writing a letter to a local public official, or attending a city council meeting. These students were also required to turn in a 2-3 page “process” journal. And, just as was the case at CSULB, the only in-class discussions that occurred following the assignments were when students volunteered to share their experiences. American Government at Point Loma Nazarene University (Spring 2007) was the smallest of the classes, with just 19 students. Point Loma Nazarene University is a much smaller university than the others and is considered a small, private, liberal arts university. The class had mostly social science students, but only about half were political science majors. In this course, students were given more options in that they were offered a “menu” of twenty activities, ranging from registering to vote (5 points) to attending a city council meeting (7.5 points) to protesting (15 points). They simply had to accumulate thirty points using whatever combination of activities they wanted. It was worth 7.5% of their total course grade. These students were asked to turn in the entire portfolio during the last week of the semester. The portfolio was to include any supporting evidence (parking lot receipts, pictures, flyers) and a two page summary. The summary asked them to describe the act, explain how they found it, and most importantly, clearly link the participation act to concepts learned in class. In addition, they were asked to give advice to someone who may participate in the act in the future. Generally, the students got very creative in their portfolios – with pictures and cut-outs. Methods 12

Authors: Lupo, Lindsey. and Griffin, Rebecca Brandy.
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students, most of whom were non-majors, seeking to take the class as a breadth requirement for a
Bachelors in Education. They were asked to complete two participation assignments, each worth
15% of the total course grade. They were given the option of writing a letter to a local
newspaper, writing a letter to a local public official, or attending a city council meeting. These
students were also required to turn in a 2-3 page “process” journal. And, just as was the case at
CSULB, the only in-class discussions that occurred following the assignments were when
students volunteered to share their experiences.
American Government at Point Loma Nazarene University (Spring 2007) was the
smallest of the classes, with just 19 students. Point Loma Nazarene University is a much smaller
university than the others and is considered a small, private, liberal arts university. The class had
mostly social science students, but only about half were political science majors. In this course,
students were given more options in that they were offered a “menu” of twenty activities,
ranging from registering to vote (5 points) to attending a city council meeting (7.5 points) to
protesting (15 points). They simply had to accumulate thirty points using whatever combination
of activities they wanted. It was worth 7.5% of their total course grade. These students were
asked to turn in the entire portfolio during the last week of the semester. The portfolio was to
include any supporting evidence (parking lot receipts, pictures, flyers) and a two page summary.
The summary asked them to describe the act, explain how they found it, and most importantly,
clearly link the participation act to concepts learned in class. In addition, they were asked to give
advice to someone who may participate in the act in the future. Generally, the students got very
creative in their portfolios – with pictures and cut-outs.
Methods
12


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