To what extent do students connect with political science?

17 January 2023, Version 1


New and innovative revisions to introductory political science courses aim to help students with little to no background in the discipline see its relevance. Yet, these revisions rarely ask students themselves what they think is interesting about political science and how they connect to the discipline. I evaluate those connections that students make to political science when exposed to the discipline for the first time by analyzing student research memo writing assignments from five introductory American politics courses. Student life experiences, interest in certain current events, or intended career path most frequently provide connections to political science. While some students do have innate curiosities about the discipline, this study suggests that introductory political science course instructors may wish to give students more flexibility to choose parts of the discipline that relate most to them so as to make political science more relevant to their lives and their educational experience.



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