Political Action Assignment
English Composition 1101
Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity
Students will individually research a public policy or planning issue that is being debated at the state, city, or neighborhood level. Each student will post a summary of the different sides of the debate and the different parties involved on OpenLab. The summary will include references and citations to three sources suitable for an academic paper. Each student will then comment on two other posts. Students' comments will either suggest what additional information is needed to make a policy decision or state what policy decision the student thinks is best and why that decision is ethically correct. Students will then be divided into four or five groups, each of which focuses on a policy, based on which posts were most commented on. Within their groups, students will gather questions regarding what additional information is needed for their issue and will assign group members to find out the additional information. Finally, students will individually post their policy recommendations and will take a political action in support of their recommendations. In class, each group will come to an agreement through debating and/or voting concerning which policy decision or decisions the group recommends. Group members will then rate one another's contributions using a rubric.
Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?
I would like students to grasp the ethical complexities of a current issue and develop language for talking about the ethical difficulties of that issue. I would also like students to gain confidence within their assigned group roles. Researching their topics will also help students evaluate sources. Negotiating with other members of their group on the group's stance will help students hone their ability to communicate with and convince others of their stance.
Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?
This would be done during the latter half of the semester, and it would take up about four or five weeks of class. Completing the assignment sequence would require two hours of work outside of class each week.
Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?
Students would need practice locating and evaluating sources. I would instruct them on the types of sources that would be appropriate, and I would suggest a list of databases and websites that they could use. I would say that the OpenLab posts are low to medium stakes, while the group debate and political action are medium to high stakes.
Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?
Students will assess one another's group work using a simple rubric. I will give students individual feedback on their posts, which would translate into a written response that takes the VALUE rubric into account.
Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?
How well this activity works will depend on how successful I am at assigning students roles within their groups and in giving them instructions regarding what their group needs to be accomplishing at set times. Also, I will try to choose four or five topics for the groups that I think have the strongest potential for complex ethical exploration.
Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.
Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLabPrint this page