practicing politics: student engagement and enthusiasm

Buckley, F. and Reidy, T. (2014) practicing politics: student engagement and enthusiasm. pp. 340-351.


Political science in European universities is often seen as having traditional signature pedagogy but pockets of innovation have become increasingly common. This article will outline and reflect upon two projects at University College Cork, which were designed to increase student engagement and create an active learning environment. The projects brought students directly into contact with the national political arena and, in particular, with contemporary debates on political reform, which have dominated political discourse in Ireland since the economic crash of late 2008. The projects presented students with (1) the opportunity to make an oral and/or written submission to a committee of the national parliament, which held a public session at the University and (2) publish a peer-reviewed article in an online undergraduate research journal and participate in an academic conference. The projects were designed with active and participatory learning at their core and feedback from participating students and staff indicated that these goals were achieved. The level of student engagement, however, in terms of the participating numbers was lower than expected, which brings some caution about students' perceived enthusiasm for active forms of learning.

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