While Advanced Placement is looked at by many as the main brand of rigorous coursework in the United States, it has come under scrutiny for lagging research on how students learn and what counts as learning.

Researchers from the University of Washington College of Education presented their work retooling the AP Government course to take a project-based approach to learning during an April 18 session at the American Educational Research Association's annual meeting.

Professor Walter Parker, honored as an AERA Fellow during this year's annual meeting, discussed UW's ongoing Knowledge in Action project, a designed-based implementation research initiative taking place in partnership with four school systems. Its three goals are:

  1. Maintaining or increasing scores on the AP Government test.
  2. Fostering deeper, actionable learning.
  3. Success for a wider array of students, especially underserved students who are increasingly gaining access to the course.

"Each project in our redesigned courses is a simulation with students taking on a variety of roles," Parker said. "We're finding that leads to real engagement. It's a powerful form of experiential learning for students as they are prepare to become active participants in our democracy."

Hear Parker talk more about the UW's research project following his AERA presentation:

Parker presented his paper as part of the AERA panel "Civic Education Must Change: Responding to Transformed Political, Educational, Demographic, and Technological Contexts."

Learn more about the College's Knowledge in Action project in the 2014-15 edition of Research That Matters (pages 34-38).


Dustin Wunderlich, Director for Marketing and Communications

206-543-1035, dwunder@uw.edu