The Promise and Potential Pitfalls of a "Learning-Centered" Approach to Creative Social Inquiry: Lessons Learned from an Undergraduate Seminar on Authoritarianism through Literature and Film

Barbara Junisbai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Political science faculty have access to a wealth of innovative pedagogies thanks to a comprehensive literature on teaching and learning in the discipline and related fields. Yet, from among the hundreds of documented possibilities, how does one go about deciding which to incorporate into a given course? Few articles have much to say in response to this basic question, as most begin with a particular method, assignment, or assessment in mind and proceed from there. Drawing on the work of Fink (2003) and Wiggins and McTighe (2005), among others, I argue that, instead of taking the choice of activities as the starting point in course design, teachers-and, by extension, students-would be better served by first contemplating the desired results of the course and only thereafter devoting consideration to content and instructional methods. In making this claim, I reflect critically on my experience teaching a writing-intensive first-year seminar on comparative authoritarianism using "learning-centered" and "backward" course design. My experience speaks to both the potential pitfalls associated with the learning-centered model and the enormous promise that it represents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-351
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Political Science Education
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014

Keywords

  • authentic assessment
  • backward course design
  • learning goals
  • learning outcomes
  • learning-centered course design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Sociology and Political Science

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