Active Learning and the Acquisition of Political Knowledge in High School

By Diana Owen and G. Isaac W. Riddle

 This study assesses the effectiveness of high school civic education in conveying political knowledge which is an important precursor to political engagement. Specifically, it addresses this question: is political knowledge acquisition related to the type of classroom civic education a student receives? Using data from a 2014–2015 study of Indiana high school students and their teachers, we find that students whose teachers had gone through the We the People professional development program gained more knowledge of the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, government institutions, and race and politics than did other students. In addition, students who take civics as an elective course gain more knowledge than students who take it as a required class. We also find that an open classroom is conducive to students’ civic learning.

Citation:   Owen, Diana, and G. Isaac W. Riddle.  2017. “Active Learning and the Acquisition of Political Knowledge in High School,” in Alison McCartney, Elizabeth Bennion, Elizabeth Matto, and Richard Simpson, eds. Teaching Civic Engagement.  Washington, D.C.: American Political Science Association.

Active Learning and the Acquisition of Political Knowledge in High School