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How to Cite

Madigan, Timothy. 2011. “POLITICAL KNOWLEDGE OF COLLEGE STUDENTS: A SIMPLE GROUP TEST”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, April. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


EXAMPLE RESOURCE: Students often come to class with little to no awareness of the specifics of the world of politics operating around them. This exercise asks students, without warning, to name the major bills that have been passed in their state’s General Assembly. From past experiences conducting the exercise, students are only able to name a few out...

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Subject Area(s):
Public Policy
Resource Type(s):
Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

The exercise has been used at a 4-year regional public university mainly serving rural students straight out of high school. Results might differ at top level universities located in urban areas. Political science students were not any better at knowing the details of new state policies. When using the exercise in Introduction to Sociology courses, the...

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Learn to identify three levels of political knowledge and involvement of citizens in the United States
  2. Recognize weaknesses in the basic premises of functionalist theory through research findings on lack of political involvement in the United States
  3. Learn about C. Wright Mill’s concept of the power elite

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Sociologists have studied the political involvement of Americans and they have identified three levels of political involvement. Name and describe each of the levels.
  2. Compare and contrast the functionalist and conflict approaches to explaining the lack of political knowledge and participation among Americans.
  3. Describe the main ideas of the concept of the power elite. Which two theorists’ footprints are evident in the power elite concept?

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