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The Democratic Classroom: Sharing Power to Improve Learning and Educate Citizens
Unformatted Document Text:  Democratic Classroom 24 politics, providing much less to those who are not already interested and inclined to pay attention” (Colby et al., 2007, p. 47). The PEP courses and programs were successful mostly because they offered opportunities for political engagement most individuals would not of had otherwise. According to Colby et al., for all but the most politically involved individuals, motivation to become knowledgeable about and involved in politics is a consequence of having the opportunity to do so and not the other way around. Colby et al. also insist that the results of the PEP study were not simply an effect of college attendance. Even though an individual’s level of educational attainment is the most reliable predictor of political participation, this fact does not explain the “paradox” that “political knowledge and engagement have not increased in the past fifty years while the proportion of the U.S. population attending college has increased dramatically” (Colby et al., 2007, p. 51). So while individuals who graduate from college are more likely to be politically involved that those who do not, the aggregate level of political participation relative to past levels is lower than what is deemed as necessary for a healthy democracy. The PEP courses and programs provide the skills that can help close this aggregate deficit in responsible political engagement. As authors put it, “our survey shows that courses emphasizing skills of political action lead to substantial increases in internal political efficacy and also to higher levels of political interest” (2007, p. 122). The PEP courses fostered four sets of political skills: influence and action; analysis and judgment; communication and leadership; and teamwork and collaboration. Colby et al. (2007) readily admit that these skills are simply “politically infused variants of skills that, in slightly different forms, are central to academic discourse in the disciplines, many professional practice, and many other life pursuits” (p. 123) The complementary nature of these skills, in fact, is why

Authors: Price, Christopher.
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Democratic Classroom 24
politics, providing much less to those who are not already interested and inclined to pay
attention” (Colby et al., 2007, p. 47). The PEP courses and programs were successful mostly
because they offered opportunities for political engagement most individuals would not of had
otherwise. According to Colby et al., for all but the most politically involved individuals,
motivation to become knowledgeable about and involved in politics is a consequence of having
the opportunity to do so and not the other way around.
Colby et al. also insist that the results of the PEP study were not simply an effect of
college attendance. Even though an individual’s level of educational attainment is the most
reliable predictor of political participation, this fact does not explain the “paradox” that “political
knowledge and engagement have not increased in the past fifty years while the proportion of the
U.S. population attending college has increased dramatically” (Colby et al., 2007, p. 51). So
while individuals who graduate from college are more likely to be politically involved that those
who do not, the aggregate level of political participation relative to past levels is lower than what
is deemed as necessary for a healthy democracy. The PEP courses and programs provide the
skills that can help close this aggregate deficit in responsible political engagement. As authors
put it, “our survey shows that courses emphasizing skills of political action lead to substantial
increases in internal political efficacy and also to higher levels of political interest” (2007, p.
122).
The PEP courses fostered four sets of political skills: influence and action; analysis and
judgment; communication and leadership; and teamwork and collaboration. Colby et al. (2007)
readily admit that these skills are simply “politically infused variants of skills that, in slightly
different forms, are central to academic discourse in the disciplines, many professional practice,
and many other life pursuits” (p. 123) The complementary nature of these skills, in fact, is why


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