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Course Content, Teaching & Learning Styles

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Knowledge—

A central part of the survey was a series of questions designed to tap how faculty incorporate various civic engagement activities into the classroom. First, we wanted to measure the prevalence of instruction in content that might enhance students’ knowledge of issues that could impact their future involvement in civic activities. Overall, 57.5% of undergraduate faculty and 37.5% of teaching professional staff responded that they “frequently” or “very frequently” include knowledge-related content of civic engagement activities in their courses. Specifically, almost all instructors discuss contemporary issues in American life, but there is a wide variety in the usage of other forms of civic engagement-related knowledge.

Percentage of Faculty & Staff Incorporating Various Types of Civic Engagement Knowledge

Undergraduate Faculty Professional Staff
Foundations of democracy 33% 21%
Core principles of American democracy 39% 21%
Key historical American documents 33% 21%
Contemporary issues in American life 92% 86%
Extent and Types of Community Needs and Wants 53% 43%
Other 28% 21%

Q. Do any of the classes you teach include content that improves students' knowledge of any of the following civic engagement topics?

Skills—

In order to successfully participate in civil society, students also need to learn a certain set of skills. Accordingly, we also asked whether instructors incorporated lessons in the various skills that would enhance student’s capabilities in civic engagement activities. The most popular skills taught are public speaking and team-building activities, though almost a third of all instructors also include activities designed to teach leadership, advocacy, and volunteer management skills. On the whole, 50% of faculty, and 53% of staff, responded that they “frequently” or “very frequently” touch on civic engagement skills in their classes.

Percentage of Faculty & Staff Incorporating Various Types of Civic Engagement Skills

Undergraduate Faculty Professional Staff
Leadership 44% 38%
Public Speaking 78% 69%
Volunteer Management 22% 23%
Advocacy and Lobbying 28% 31%
Team-building 67% 54%
Other 14% 8%

Q. - Do any of the classes you teach include content that fosters the following skills necessary for successful civic engagement?

Values—

Just as important as the skills and knowledge are the civic engagement-related values that students learn in a college education. Fortunately, 75% of teaching staff and 64.9% of undergraduate faculty responded that they “frequently” or “very frequently” address the values of civic engagement in their courses. Specifically, between two-thirds and three-quarters of all instructors seem to place a high priority on teaching students the importance of participation, civic and social responsibility, ethical judgment, and diversity and inclusion. Most respondents felt that “impartiality,” in contrast, was not as important in the classroom.

Percentage of Faculty & Staff Incorporating Various Types of Civic Engagement Values

Undergraduate Faculty Professional Staff
Importance of participation 74% 63%
Diversity and inclusion 79% 63%
Civic and social responsibility 74% 50%
Impartiality 47% 38%
Ethical judgment (moral imperative to act) 65% 75%
Other 6% 0%

Q. Do any of the classes you teach include content that fosters the following values necessary for successful civic engagement?

Activities—

We also wanted to get a good idea of the extent to which undergraduate instructors incorporate a variety of other classroom-based activities related to civic engagement outcomes. The incorporation of democratic teaching styles is by far the most popular of these activities, with 65% of all teaching professional staff and undergraduate faculty frequently making critical thinking and related activities an important component of their courses. Four other types of activities—readings, lecturing, in-class assignments, and homework assignments, in contrast, are only frequently employed by a third or less of all instructors.

Frequency of Various Civic Engagement Instructional Activities in the Classroom (Faculty & Staff)

Question Very Frequently Frequently Occasionally Rarely Very Rarely Never
How often do you assign readings that deal with civic engagement topics? 7% 15% 42% 17% 5% 14%
How often do you lecture on topics related to civic engagement? 7% 28% 31% 16% 12% 7%
How often do you have in-class assignments that deal with civic engagement topics? 7% 17% 34% 21% 5% 16%
How often do you give take-home or extra-curricular assignments that deal with civic engagement topics? 10% 10% 29% 20% 8% 22%
To what extent are democratic teaching styles an important component of any of your courses? (e.g., encouraging critical thinking, taking and supporting independent positions, providing opportunities to challenge others’ opinions in respectful ways) 29% 36% 24% 5% 3% 3%


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