Open Educational Resources and Student Engagement: The Use of In-Class Exercises to Enhance OERs in Introductory Political Science Classes

Open Educational Resources and Student Engagement: The Use of In-Class Exercises to Enhance OERs in Introductory Political Science Classes

Michael A. Lewkowicz (Georgia Gwinnett College, USA), Yohannes Gedamu (Georgia Gwinnett College, USA), Dovile Budryte (Georgia Gwinnett College, USA) and Scott A. Boykin (Georgia Gwinnett College, USA)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1200-5.ch009
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Innovative technologies are playing critical roles in higher education teaching, especially in promoting student engagement. In particular, open education resources (OERs) have increasingly shaped teaching practices in a variety of disciplines, including political science. The goal of this chapter is to explore the use of OER materials, combined with in-class activities, in introductory political science classes. The authors begin this chapter with an overview of OER materials, including an online textbook and a database of activities collected by the team. From there, the chapter presents several activities that address voter participation, freedom of speech, and tensions between states' rights and federal authority. The chapter concludes with a discussion of assessment results that measure student performance and attitudes towards OER resources and classroom activities.
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In higher education, the use of OER materials to teach introductory general education courses in the social sciences is growing. One may ask why instructors decide to use open educational resources, as opposed to relying on traditional textbooks. After all, a 2015 study shows that recent generations of college students (Generation Y) sometimes prefer traditional textbooks, even if the same resources are available as online textbooks (Millar & Schreier, 2015).This result could be attributed to the fact that Generation Y students did not actually grow up using online textbooks prior to their admission to higher academic institutions. However, the authors of the 2015 study acknowledge that attitudes may change as the “iGeneration” or “Generation Z” students, who have become used to such technology, enter higher education institutions.

Furthermore, many in higher education are alarmed by the rising cost of both the traditional and online textbooks that students are expected to purchase. A 2008 University of Wisconsin brochure reads, “in addition to rising tuitions and the decreasing availability of financial aid, the high cost of textbooks is a serious concern for students and parents.” Senack and Donoghue (2016), who analyzed sets of collected data on the financial impact that textbook purchases exert on students, conclude, “in the broader context of increasing debt, high textbook prices are impactful enough to merit urgent, demonstrative action from policymakers on all levels to support alternatives to the traditional system of publishing.”

Key Terms in this Chapter

Federalism: The principle of the system of government with horizontal division of power into several layers that include the national (federal) government, states (or provinces), and local government.

Active Learning: A way of teaching and learning when students are directly involved in the process. This is the opposite of being passive listeners when traditional teaching methods such as lecture are used.

OERs (Open Educational Resources): Easily accessible sources used in teaching and learning. They are openly licensed as well, and do not require fees for using them.

Voter Participation Rate: The percentage of a population that votes in a given election. This statistic can be measured by considering the percentage of the voting age population or the percentage of the voting-eligible population.

Student Engagement: A degree of involvement demonstrated by the students during the process of learning.

Collaborative Learning: An approach to teaching and learning that supports student cooperation while working on a task.

Civil Liberties: Individual rights protected by the Constitution. Examples include the freedom of speech, freedom from torture, and the right to privacy (implied).

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