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Combining Civic Engagement and Traditional Research: A Second Option
Unformatted Document Text:  A dialogue in our discipline for many years has bemoaned the lack of civic engagement and political knowledge (Colby, Ehrlich, Beaumont, Stephens, 2003; Skocpol, 2003; Putnam, 2000, Elstain 1997)), and some have endeavored to fill this gap through service learning courses. (Patterson, 2000; Koulish, 1998; McCartney 2006)We have also sought to enhance student learning by developing more active learning options to promote student ownership of his/her knowledge, deepen more advanced cognitive, oral, and written skills, and enhance student retention of both knowledge and skills.(Dicklitch, 2003; Delli Carpini and Keeter, 2000); Markus, 1997; Battistoni, 1997; Boyte and Farr, 1997) Indeed, while many of us applaud these efforts, political science educators at many non-Research I schools face several hurdles in pursuing these non-traditional offerings, such as lack of time for preparation of these more work- intensive courses, lack of support amongst colleagues, and insufficient funding for additional staff to allow an educator to pursue these options and still enable the department to provide its regular offerings. I suggest that by combining a service-learning approach to civic engagement and traditional research we may be able to overcome many of these hurdles and expand these options for our students by providing a rigorous academic experience that utilizes easily understandable assessment tools. This paper outlines a course, “Civic Engagement Research Internship,” that seeks to combine the study and practice of civic engagement with traditional research goals of political science undergraduate pedagogy. In this course, students practice civic engagement through a partnership program between the university and the county public school system by working with high school students and teachers and the instructor in an internship-like setting. In addition, they work with their instructor in an independent study-like setting to prepare a 2

Authors: McCartney, Alison.
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A dialogue in our discipline for many years has bemoaned the lack of civic engagement
and political knowledge (Colby, Ehrlich, Beaumont, Stephens, 2003; Skocpol, 2003; Putnam,
2000, Elstain 1997)), and some have endeavored to fill this gap through service learning courses.
(Patterson, 2000; Koulish, 1998; McCartney 2006)We have also sought to enhance student
learning by developing more active learning options to promote student ownership of his/her
knowledge, deepen more advanced cognitive, oral, and written skills, and enhance student
retention of both knowledge and skills.(Dicklitch, 2003; Delli Carpini and Keeter, 2000);
Markus, 1997; Battistoni, 1997; Boyte and Farr, 1997) Indeed, while many of us applaud these
efforts, political science educators at many non-Research I schools face several hurdles in
pursuing these non-traditional offerings, such as lack of time for preparation of these more work-
intensive courses, lack of support amongst colleagues, and insufficient funding for additional
staff to allow an educator to pursue these options and still enable the department to provide its
regular offerings. I suggest that by combining a service-learning approach to civic engagement
and traditional research we may be able to overcome many of these hurdles and expand these
options for our students by providing a rigorous academic experience that utilizes easily
understandable assessment tools.
This paper outlines a course, “Civic Engagement Research Internship,” that seeks to
combine the study and practice of civic engagement with traditional research goals of political
science undergraduate pedagogy. In this course, students practice civic engagement through a
partnership program between the university and the county public school system by working
with high school students and teachers and the instructor in an internship-like setting. In
addition, they work with their instructor in an independent study-like setting to prepare a
2


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