High school students congregate after an AP civics class.

The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) selected "Rethinking Advanced High School Coursework: Tackling the Depth/Breadth Tension in the AP US Government and Politics Course," by Walter Parker, Susan Mosborg, John Bransford, Nancy Vye, John Wilkerson and Robert Abbott, as one of two 2013 Exemplary Research in Social Studies Award winners. The award will be presented at the 93rd NCSS Annual Conference Nov. 22-24, in St. Louis, Missouri.

At a time when many school districts are increasingly requiring all students to take one or more AP courses in order to address the gaps in access, equity and college readiness of underserved students, Parker et al.'s research pinpoints the need for AP courses first to integrate research indicating how students learn and then to take into account in the desired outcomes the research on what learning is. This study examines the implications of the effectiveness of project-based learning (PBL) in AP courses for deeper civic learning.

Click here to read the full article published in the Journal of Curriculum Studies »

In their empirical research, Parker et al. examined an AP US Government and Politics course design that is anchored in a learning cycles approach combined with project-based learning (PBL) where students assume citizen, judge, legislator, media, and executive roles. Their findings indicated that more students learned more about their role in government and politics in the PBL AP course than in the traditionally taught AP course. The PBL design offered a diverse population of students more possibilities for learning and mastering the AP US Government and Politics course.

• Dr. Walter Parker, Professor of Social Studies Education and Political Science, studies civic education in national and global contexts.
• Dr. Susan Mosborg, former Research Scientist, studies curriculum design, learner identities, and education system innovation.
• Dr. John D. Bransford, the Shauna C. Larson Professor of the Learning Sciences, studies learning, problem solving, transfer, and technology in education.
• Dr. Nancy Vye, Principal Research Scientist, studies challenge-based learning in K-12 and workplace settings.
• Dr. John Wilkerson, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy, specializes in American legislative politics. He invented LegSim, an online virtual legislature used in high school and college courses.
• Dr. Robert D. Abbott, Professor of Educational Statistics, analyzes longitudinal data and the use of latent variables in educational research.

This annual award acknowledges and encourages scholarly inquiry on significant issues and possibilities for social studies education. Click here for more information »

Founded in 1921, the National Council for the Social Studies has members throughout the United States and internationally. Membership includes K-16 classroom teachers, curriculum supervisors and specialists, curriculum writers and designers, and teacher educators. The NCSS serves as an umbrella organization for teachers of civics, history, geography, economics, political science, sociology, psychology, anthropology and law-related education.
Click here for more information »