Political Science: Collective Action Lesson Study

Title: Collective Action Lesson Study
Authors: Jo Arney, Tim Dale, and Adam Van Liere; Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Political Science and Public Administration
Submission Date: June 28, 2013

Abstract: For the first part of the lesson students played a game called the Isle of Ted. Many collective action problems arise as part of the game and students unwittingly make choices that add to the overall lesson. The second part of the game is an interactive lecture that unpacks the lessons in the game and offers additional examples of collective action problems. Our findings suggest that allowing students to experience collective action problems first hand while playing the game allows them to apply the lesson to American National Government. Lesson Study in Political Science: Collective Action Lesson Study (Full Report)

Political Science: Examining Student Understanding of Ideology

Title: Examining Student Understanding of Ideology
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Political Science & Public Administration
Authors: Steve McDougal, Jeremy Arney, Ray Block, and Jo Arney, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse
Submission Date: May 2012

Abstract:  We sought to develop a richer understanding of ideology. At the end of the lesson we hoped students would be able to describe the key values that contribute to an individual’s ideology and would be able to explain why no two individuals have the exact same ideology. We observed improvement in student understanding over the course of two semesters.

Political Science Lesson Study: Examining Student Understanding of Ideology (Final Report)

Psychology: How Beliefs and Context Influence Motivation for Learning

Title: Students’ Understanding of How Beliefs and Context Influence Motivation for Learning
Discipline or Field: Psychology
Authors: Tesia Marshik, Bill Cerbin, Katy Kortenkamp, Roger Dixon, UW-La Crosse


Our overarching goal for this lesson study was for students to understand and perceive the relevance of motivation theories and to be able to apply these theories to their lives (as students and as future teachers). From a specific lesson standpoint, our goals were for students to correctly identify different achievement goal orientations (i.e., mastery, performance-approach, and performance-avoid goals), to experience how such orientations affect students’ behaviors and performance in the classroom, and to understand how personal and contextual factors shape individuals’ goal orientations.  To meet these ends, we developed a 2×2 between-participants experiment in which we attempted to manipulate students’ goal orientations and performance on an anagram task. Each student received one of two different sets of anagrams to solve: the last word for each group was the same (“cinerama”), but the preceding words were either solvable (“melon” and “baker”) or unsolvable (“whirl” and “slapstick”). Furthermore, students were given two different sets of instructions: one set promoted performance goals while the other set promoted mastery goals. As a class, students completed the anagrams one-at-a-time and publicly indicated when they solved each anagram. Afterwards, students answered a series of questions about the task regarding their personal enjoyment, persistence, efforts, etc.  Students were then debriefed and we had small-group and full-class discussions about the relevant motivation theories. Through observations and analyses of students’ responses in-class and via the questionnaires, we found that the lesson was overall successful in terms of increasing students’ understanding of the effects of different achievement goals. The lesson seemed to be especially salient/powerful for students in the “performance goal and unsolvable task” condition (who likely experienced learned helplessness during the activity). On the other hand, students in the “mastery goal and easy task” condition seemed to be the least engaged.

Psychology Lesson Study: How Beliefs and Context Influence Motivation for Learning (Final Report)

Sociology: Gender Differences Among High, Middle, and Low Income Countries

Title: How does Sociology Explain Gender Differences Among High, Middle and Low Income Countries?
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Sociology, Gender Studies, Population Studies
Authors: Helen Rosenberg, Teresa Reinders, Anne Statham, University of Wisconsin – Parkside
Submission Date: November 7, 2007

Executive Summary

Learning Goals: The anticipated focus of the lesson study was the challenge of getting students to examine everyday issues through a sociological lens. We wanted to learn ways to enhance students’ abilities to make the connection between learning theory (factors that impact global stratification) and understanding experience (how the level of stratification of a nation from a global perspective impacts gender stratification on a national level and women’s quality of life on a individual level). As part of our lesson study training, we hoped to develop skills to aid students in making the theory-experience connection. Secondly, students worked in groups and were required to develop a poster and report as a team. Therefore, a second goal of the lesson study was developing an organizational strategy for presenting findings through a team effort.

Instructional Design: Instructors adapted two iterations of an active learning exercise based on Bradshaw, et al. (2001, pps. 272-273) Gender Inequality with and between Nations: Internet Research. The first iteration was designed to get students to generalize about differences among high, middle, and low income nations. Students compared nations on the following indicators: life expectancy, contraceptive use, educational attainment, women in the military and government, and women in the workforce. The second iteration required students to apply their knowledge from the first iteration to gender stratification from a national and individual perspective. This moved students from understanding indicators that defined the status of a nation globally to applying this status to gender stratification and then speculating about how women’s status impacts their everyday lives. Students presented information about different nations they chose to study as part of the first iteration and then discussed gender differences as part of the second iteration. Students were required to study a nation and create a poster (Appendix A) describing that nation on the assigned indicators, discuss the impact of the income level of the nation and gender stratification, make generalizations about the quality of life of women in that nation and compare this to other nations. Students wrote up findings in a final group paper.

Findings about student learning: From this assignment, students learned differences among nations, economically, socially, and politically with specific emphasis on gender differences, considering commonalities and differences as a function of survival in a global, interdependent community. They began to see patterns in nations on the basis of income levels, but also noted that middle income nations varied the most on criteria used to describe them. They gathered information on gender differences across all nations, but these differences were not made explicit until iteration two of the lesson study. Students learned through experience and interaction about differences across nations and how women’s lives are impacted. Issues of number of children, contraceptive use, role of religion and tradition, role of women in childrearing versus employment outside the home, and role of women in government were discussed.

Sociology Lesson Study: Gender Differences Among High, Middle, and Low Income Countries (Final Report)

Report Appendix containing:

A. Student posters,
B. Group Project on Global Stratification,
C. Informed Consent Form,
D. Poster Project Rubric,
E. Global Stratification Table
F. Discussion Sheet: Gender Stratification
G. Observer’s Notes
H. Sample Syllabus
I. Rosenberg’s Notes

Political Science: Global Summit on Sustainability

Title: Global Summit on Sustainability
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Political Science, Environmental Studies
Authors: Katia Levintova, Kevin Vonck, Terri Johnson, Denise Scheberle, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay
Submission Date: March 2, 2009

Executive Summary: The goals of introductory political science courses are not only to equip students with the fundamental knowledge about our discipline (that is about political processes at home and on the international level), but to give students a set of important skills, including political engagement, meaningful political citizenship (efficacy and agency), critical thinking, cultural empathy and respect for diversity (both domestic and global). To this end, four faculty members in Public and Environmental Affairs (Terri Johnson, Denise Scheberle, Kevin Vonck, and Katia Levintova) devised, piloted and refashioned a Global Summit on Sustainability. The summit pilot (Spring 2008) involved two sections of American Government (approximately 200 students) and one section of Global Politics (120 students).

The lesson study involved 29 student teams role-playing countries in a summit designed to adopt a global resolution on sustainability. Prior to the Global Summit session, a pre-Summit session was held. During pre-Summit students selected their roles, received instructions, and agreed upon the schedule for assignment completion. During the Global Summit, the global resolution was adopted as a result of compromises and negotiations among country delegations. Prior to the Global Summit, students researched their assigned country’s environmental, social, economic, and political problems that pertained to sustainable development. They also learned about the role their country played in international sustainable development efforts and international affairs in general. Each country delegation had to come up with a UN-like resolution on sustainable development which both addressed national needs and priorities and had a reasonable chance of being a framework for the global policy on sustainability. Preliminary negotiations started as soon as a resolution was approved by the delegation and posted on a D2L website created specially for the Summit. Students had one or two summit work days in class, but their work also took place outside the class as they worked in teams, and also on-line. The learning objective was for students to come away from the Summit empowered as citizens, with an increased understanding of and appreciation for global citizenship, domestic and global negotiations and policy-making, knowledgeable about their own country and the complexities of the world.

The Global Summit pilot (Spring 2008) and the slightly revised Global Summit (Fall 2008) increased students’ appreciation for global citizenship. Students perceived improved skills supportive of effective citizenship (negotiation and empathy). The change was measured through a survey instrument developed specifically for the Summit as well as observations of face-to-face and virtual (D2L) behavior and dialogues before and during the Summit and content analysis of quick reaction papers and longer (required) reflection papers. Most significantly, we detected the difference in means between the pre-Summit and post-Summit surveys, with the questions’ means increasing or decreasing in response to participation in the Summit. Qualitative content analysis of student written assignments also revealed increased sophistication in global thinking and negotiations skills.

Below are links to some additional material:

This section contains every handout or prompt mentioned in the description of the lesson.  It provides useful instructional materials to use with the lesson.

This presentation is shown during the Pre-Summit.  It provides brief overview of the project and is designed to introduce students to the global thinking.

This presentation helps keep the summit on track.

In this video students discuss their assignment.

Excerpts from the Global Summit on Sustainability Fall 2008.

Psychology: Construct Validity in Psychological Measurement

Title: Construct Validity in Psychological Measurement
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Psychology
Authors: Carmen Wilson, Bill Cerbin, Melanie Cary, Rob Dixon, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse
Submission Date: January 15, 2007

Executive Summary

The goal of the lesson is to develop students’ understanding of construct validity as measured by their ability to: 1) explain methods used to determine construct validity for psychological measures and 2) design a study to determine the construct validity of a given measure.

Prior to the lesson. In the two class days prior to the lesson, the instructor presented information on content, criterion, and construct validity. Each type of validity was presented in terms of a question it answered and how it might be assessed. Content validity answers the question, “Do the items represent the domain of interest?” It can be assessed by having an expert in the topic review the test. Criterion validity answers the question, “Do scores on the test predict some non-test behavior?” It can be assessed by correlating scores on the test with some other measure of the behavior (e.g. behavioral observation). Construct validity answers the question, “Does the test measure what it claims to measure?” The lecture highlights several processes to assess construct validity. The answer to the construct validity question is dependent upon what is known about the construct being measured. For example, if the theory about the construct suggests that two groups of people should have different levels of a construct, and the test actually measures the construct, then the groups’ scores should be different.

We evaluated three versions of the lesson across three semesters. In Version 1 (lesson, no lecture – A), students developed a 5-item measure of depression and then designed three research studies to evaluate the validity of their measure prior to receiving any instruction about construct validity. In Version 2 (lesson, no lecture – B) we made minor modifications, but the lesson essentially remained the same. In Version 3 (lesson after lecture), we made significant modifications. The instructor lectured about construct validity first, and in a subsequent class, students analyzed three validity studies and then designed a validity study based on information provided by the instructor.

In Versions 1 and 2, students became bogged down in details of their proposed research studies and missed the more important goal of predicting results that would support the validity of their measure. The team decided to restructure the lesson so that in Version 3 they first heard a lecture, and then read summaries of real validity studies and predicted the results of those studies given the tests were valid. In the last part of the lesson students designed a study to determine if a given test was valid and predicted the results of that study. Interestingly, students who participated in Version 1 of the lesson (lesson, no lecture – A) generally performed better than students who participated in Versions 2 and 3.

Documents related to the Construct Validity Lesson Plan:

Individual Worksheet

Group Worksheet

Lesson Plan Versions 1 & 2

Design Validity Study Exercise

Convergent Divergent Scales


Documents related to the Study of the Construct Validity Lesson:

Student Perceptions of the Lesson

Observation Guidelines

Think Aloud Problem

Observation Guidelines Versions 1 & 2

Psychology: Classical Conditioning

Title: Improving Thinking about Classical Conditioning
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Psychology
Authors: Craig Wendorf, Robert Nemeth, Jody Lewis, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
Submission Date: August 26, 2007

Executive Summary: This lesson was designed to introduce students to the basic procedures and processes of classical conditioning within the context of a single-semester course in Introduction to Psychology. We usually allocate one-week for the unit on Learning, which approximates a single 50-minute class on classical conditioning (the remaining two classes are devoted to operant conditioning and observational learning, respectively). Thus, the lesson incorporates both lecture and activity and was designed with a multi-media compatible classroom in mind.

After the introduction to the elements and procedure of classical conditioning, students complete a worksheet (see attached) designed to provide students with practice using the terminology of classical conditioning, understanding the ordering of elements in the procedure of classical conditioning, and applying their knowledge to a variety of different examples including a novel one that students create. The worksheet provides an opportunity to assess students’ knowledge of classical conditioning from basic definitions of the elements of classical conditioning to the learning of a conditioned response through a variety of real-world examples.

Four assessments (peer observation of the lesson, grading of the activity worksheet, grading of relevant exam questions, and a student survey) indicated the lesson generally worked well. Both students and observers reported that the lesson was engaging and helped introduce an admittedly difficult topic. The lesson shows promise with several suggestions for improvement included.