Josh Green: Active Learning Primer

A request for contributions from Josh Green:

Montreal 263APSA’s TLC conference is like a think tank for good teaching ideas — and the 2013 conference in Long Beach was no exception. It was there that my co-author Linda Alvarez and I, in conversation with other political science teachers, decided that there must be a way to gather the collective pedagogical wisdom of the conference attendees and put it in book form. There are many fine books collecting pedagogical research and theory, But when we looked for a primer that contained dozens of tested and useful active teaching modules that grad students, new faculty or senior faculty could use, we came up empty. The “Make a Doll” project — code-named after a very innovative hands-on project that Linda Alvarez used in her Latin American politics classroom and presented at the 2014 TLC conference — aims to collect the best active teaching modules from around the country and publish them. The book will serve new faculty as a course design reference as they make their way through those first few difficult years of teaching when they are desperate for material that promotes active learning.

I have copied a short description of the modules we’re looking for below, but you can get full information at our submission site at:

We invite all those who care about excellent teaching in political science to participate, especially those with an interest in active learning and experiential learning.

We are open to any type of discrete module or project that instructors can use as part of their course syllabi, and we want to cover as many content areas of political science as we can. We are seeking input from instructors of all kinds at the undergraduate, graduate and even advanced high school levels. The format will be concise and easy-to-understand. Each module will be organized for quick reference for course designers.

The modules that the editors will choose for eventual publication will:

  1. Move outside traditional pedagogical forms
  2. Challenge students in new ways
  3. Bring together theory and praxis in original ways
  4. Encourage research skills
  5. Include group or project-based work.
  6. Include service-based or community-based learning
  7. Include active and/or experiential learning in the form of simulations or other types of game play.