Valley of Indecision: Using Experimental Research to Choose Introduction to American Government Textbooks
Dr. Jessica Pérez-Monforti, Greg P. Domin.
This paper examines the question whether students in an introductory American government course who are enrolled in a small, yet comprehensive liberal arts university learn more efficiently by reading a series primary articles rather than a standard textbook. We will test this by each teaching two sections of the basic American government course--one section using the standard textbook, the other section reading a work of primary articles on the American political process and do not use a textbook. We then examine the students' performance on exams, on a pretest survey and a posttest survey, and on student course evaluations. We believe American politics textbooks often tend to stifle student interest in politics because they are often the compilation of indirect interpretations of primary sources and they tend cover the same material as high school texts without directly challenging the student to think critically about the material. We theorize that a course utilizing a series of primary and challenging sources will be more rewarding, pedagogically, because students will be more engaged in current political events rather than just regurgitate facts on an exam. We propose the following hypotheses: 1) Students who read a series of primary sources on American politics rather than a standard textbook will learn more, as measured by performance on a pretest survey and posttest survey. 2) Students who read a series of primary sources on American politics rather than a standard textbook will score higher on in-class exams. 3) Students who read a series of primary sources on American politics rather than a standard textbook will be more satisfied with the course as measured by instructor evaluations
Dr. Jessica Pérez-Monforti (United States)
Department of Political Science
I am an assistant professor of political science. My major field of study is American Politics with specializations in Race, Gender, and Ethnicity, Mass Political Behavior, State and Local Politics, Urban Politics, and Research Theory and Methods. I am also associated with the Women and Gender Studies Program and the African American Studies Program at Mercer. I received my Master of Arts degree in Political Science from The Ohio State University, and my Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science (and a minor in Women's Studies) from Florida State University (GO NOLES!
Greg P. Domin (United States)
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)