Teach the Earth > Public Policy > Classroom Activities > Election Project

Election Project

Mike Phillips
Illinois Valley Community College
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This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.

This page first made public: Apr 18, 2006


Students research and report on candidates positions on issues relevant to the course. Students get to apply what they have covered in class to real events relevant to their current and future lives.

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I have used this project in several undergraduate 100-level courses in Environmental Science and Environmental Geology.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students must understand the basics of several environmental issues as well as the basics of policy making and our electoral process. They must be able to use the internet to do research. The skill set is simple, the goal is to move to a higher level.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is a mid-semester culminating-type project. (While it would be best as a capstone, the election cycle does not allow for this.)


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  1. Relate course topics to real-world situations.
  2. Give students experience in researching current issues in environmental science, env. geology, etc.
  3. Teach students how to become engaged in the political process.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

Analyze available information provided by candidates via a variety of sources (candidate web sites, partisan & non-partisan reviews, interviews, news reports, etc.)

Synthesize results and report back to class with a summary of findings.

Other skills goals for this activity

Web research, writing, speaking, interpersonal communication with authority figures.

Description of the activity/assignment

In late September (of an election year), one class session is devoted to developing a list of issues key to the class and likely to be discussed by the candidates. The list is converted into 3-5 questions all students will research and answer. Each student is assigned a candidate (President, Governor, congress, state legislature). An effort is made to assign each student a candidate who will appear on his/her ballot and to assign third party candidates.

Student research candidates' positions using web resources, news papers, and campaign materials. Students are strongly encouraged to contact the campaign directly and question the candidate, if possible.

Students report back to the class with a 3-5 minute presentation and a poster that may be displayed in a college commons area. Reports are presented a week prior to the election.

Determining whether students have met the goals

A grading rubric is used to assess how well the questions are addressed and how clearly the results are communicated.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

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