Pedagogical Value of Polling-Place Observation by Students

Christopher B. Mann, Gayle A. Alberda, Nathaniel A. Birkhead, Yu Ouyang, Chloe Singer, Charles Stewart, Michael C. Herron, Emily Beaulieu, Frederick Boehmke, Joshua Boston, Francisco Cantu, Rachael Cobb, David Darmofal, Thomas C. Ellington, Charles J. Finocchiaro, Michael Gilbert, Victor Haynes, Brian Janssen, David Kimball, Charles KromkowskiElena Llaudet, Matthew R. Miles, David Miller, Lindsay Nielson, Costas Panagopoulos, Andrew Reeves, Min Hee Seo, Haley Simmons, Corwin Smidt, Robert Stein, Rachel Vansickle-Ward, Abby K. Wood, Julie Wronski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Good education requires student experiences that deliver lessons about practice as well as theory and that encourage students to work for the public good - especially in the operation of democratic institutions (Dewey 1923; Dewy 1938). We report on an evaluation of the pedagogical value of a research project involving 23 colleges and universities across the country. Faculty trained and supervised students who observed polling places in the 2016 General Election. Our findings indicate that this was a valuable learning experience in both the short and long terms. Students found their experiences to be valuable and reported learning generally and specifically related to course material. Postelection, they also felt more knowledgeable about election science topics, voting behavior, and research methods. Students reported interest in participating in similar research in the future, would recommend other students to do so, and expressed interest in more learning and research about the topics central to their experience. Our results suggest that participants appreciated the importance of elections and their study. Collectively, the participating students are engaged and efficacious - essential qualities of citizens in a democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-837
Number of pages7
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © American Political Science Association 2018.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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