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How To Guides

Want to incorporate effective methods of teaching active citizenship into your course curriculum but not sure where to start? On this page, teacher-scholars offer educators practical recommendations and examples of how to teach civic engagement. If you want to contribute a “how to guide,” contact the editors here.

  • Establishing Ground Rules for Political Discussion Talking about politics in the classroom is an important component of political learning. There are many steps in the process of facilitating political discussions in a group setting. A good first step is establishing ground rules. In this guide, Nancy Thomas from Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education and Mark Brimhall Vargas, Vice-President for Diversity and Inclusion at Brandeis University, offer guidance on how to work with group members to craft such ground rules.  
  • How to Define Civic Engagement Prepared by John Berg, this guide articulates the various conceptualizations of civic engagement in an effort to advance research on the subject.
  • Getting and Using Classroom Speakers Effectively Prepared by Dick Simpson, one of the co-editors of Teaching Civic Engagement, this guide encourages the use of classroom speakers in coursework as a way of bringing the study of politics alive and offers helpful hints for inviting speakers and assuring a successful visit.
  • How to Use Presidential Debates to Engage Students An extension of a paper presented at the 2013 Teaching and Learning Conference, the authors of this guide suggest ways in which educators might integrate debate watches into their curriculum and pursue related activities that will involve students more closely in a campaign.
  • How to Take Action for Civic and Political Engagement Prepared by Dick Simpson, this guide offers a 16-point action agenda for advancing civic engagement education.