Student Differences and Deliberative Learning

Because of maddening and infuriating problems with my blog hosting service, a comment I wrote to Mark of ZenPundit did not go through. Mark had a question on deliberative learning over at my series, Classrooms Evolved, and as Mark was kind enough to link to those posts, I do not feel good letting him wait until blogspirit gets its act together. (That could, literally, take forever.)

My reply is below:

I’ve tried classroom democracy on community college students, gene. ed students in a survey course, and political science / international studies students in an introductory course. I think all three of these tries went better than a piagetian attempt or lecture-based attempts.

Students differed on motivation. Community college students and major students tended towards mastery orientation, with the major students taking the democracy itself as a system to master while community college students used it to help them master their technical skill. Thus the major students devised and implemented clever alternatives to the sort of democracy I layed out, while the community college students used it as a way to select tutors who would help other students in exchange for reduced assignments.

Gen. ed. students were generally performance oriented. Several times there were “coups” with a President or Prime Minister declaring his term extended — students were focused mostly on grades and so such coups were popular (as they provided more continuity than elections in course structure).

Thus the directional nature of the classroom I describe in this series. I expect that by embedding the democracy within a curriculum you would have a more durable system for gen. ed. students, while still allowing major students the ability to play with the system if they want to.

I plan on handing out an edited version of this philosophy to students on the first day next semester. This system is designed for practical implementation.

Phil’s question over at “Open Thread” is also still hanging, but Catholicgauze and Sean seem to have that covered. (I don’t have the original text of my comment anymore, so I hope it stops being AWOL soon!)

One thought on “Student Differences and Deliberative Learning”

  1. Hi Dan,

    sorry about your tech problems but thank you for the extended response ( gee, i wonder if this comment will get posted ?).

    ” such coups were popular (as they provided more continuity than elections in course structure).”


  2. Hmmm.. on the subject of tyrants, when Cromwell dismissed the Long Parliament, why in the world did he say

    “You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

    When he could have said

    “You have sat too long
    for what good you can do
    By God, be gone,
    and be done with you!”

    Did the Lord Protector not have the time
    for even this delightful rhyme?

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