Monday, January 18, 2010

AP Government CBL - The Research

This is the 2nd post in a series on my cbl project with AP American Government. Their challenge: Develop and Authentic Medium for Improving Our Democracy.

As I indicated in "Questions and Challenges", after witnessing several bursts of creative thinking on the part of my AP cbl groups, I more or less lost track of their progress. After listening to their presentations and examining their self-assessments, I have drawn the following conclusions about their research:

Each of the five groups made genuine efforts to "think outside of the box" (as they were urged to do) in seeking meaningful research for their projects. Here is such an example from each group:

1. An interview with the campaign manager of Michigan's Attorney General, who is now running furiously for Governor.

2. An interview with the campaign manager of Georgia's current governor.

3. Original survey research of students at neighboring schools.

4. An interview with a local judge.

5. An interview with A graduate student from the U. of Michigan's Gerald Ford School of Public Policy.

I saw very little evidence of research on the technologies that might advance their goals of improving our democracy. The research in other words seemed a bit scatter shot. Furthermore, as I noted in two groups' evaluations, the development of their solutions seemed only negligibly connected to the results of their research.

I am somewhat ambivalent about the research component of projects. While this was certainly not the most impressive aspect of these student-centered projects, poor research did not impede the development of some really impressive solutions. The next time around, I will require a more complete documentation of group research (including completion deadlines?). But I also must accept that research for these kinds of authentic projects will not follow conventional-- research for its own sake-- forms. My next post will be on group presentations to the class. And as you will learn, each group reported and demonstrated that they had learned a great deal through the process of developing their projects.

Screen Capture from AP cbl web site.

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