Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 5, Number 3, Winter 2010
Election participation: An integral service-based component for social studies methods
Robert A. Waterson
Mary E. Haas
West Virginia University
Most educators recognize that social studies methods courses emphasize connecting knowledge to life, through experiential learning and actions based on individual and civic values. The authors developed a required participation lesson for secondary methods students to assure that future teachers had personally experienced and evaluated a civic service learning activity. A goal was to motivate these pre-service teachers to include such experiences in their future teaching with middle or high school students. The pre-service teachers established their own way of being actively involved in the election process in a manner that complimented their interests and complex schedules. This paper describes the assignment and its related discussions. Evidence of personal experiences and reactions from students’ reflection papers is presented describing newly gained perspectives about how exhaustive and significant the election process is. Pre-service teachers’ written reflections indicated they considered this experience critical for future social studies teachers.
Key Words: Civic participation, Elections, Experiential learning, Observations, Reflection, Service learning