AP U.S. Government & Politics
The Knowledge in Action project began in 2008 as a collaboration between education researchers at the University of Washington and AP U.S. Government and Politics teachers in public schools in and around the Seattle area. From the start, the course was co-designed with teachers and researchers who together created each of the five projects, tested them in classrooms, collected and analyzed data and feedback from students and teachers, and revised the projects using a continuous improvement framework. The course is an active and engaging project-based approach to the standard AP U.S. Government and Politics course.
The subject matter is the same as in a traditionally taught course, but it is organized in a different way. Students use a core set of ideas, concepts, and skills to analyze facts and as a result they gain an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. By applying concepts, students deepen their understanding and further develop their knowledge in a way that is widely referred to as deeper learning. The driving question for the course is, What is the proper role of government in a democracy?
If you are teaching this course, you can submit through the “claim identical” process using this approved syllabus along with the authorized audit ID #2091796v4.
The subject matter is the same as in a traditionally taught course, but it is organized in a different way. Students use a core set of ideas, concepts, and skills to analyze facts and as a result they gain an analytical perspective on government and politics in the United States. By applying concepts, students deepen their understanding and further develop their knowledge in a way that is widely referred to as deeper learning.
Learn More About PBL
For more information on project-based learning, please visit this section of our site.
This course contains five projects that are organized around the following question: “What is the proper role of government in a democracy?” Each project involves political simulations through which students take on roles that help contextualize the content required by the new College Board course framework.
In the first project, Founders’ Intent, students are delegates to the Constitutional Convention, deciding whether they would ratify the new U.S. Constitution.
In the Elections project, students organize and execute their own presidential campaign.
Students then act as Supreme Court justices, petitioners, or respondents in landmark cases during the Supreme Court project.
Students write legislation in the Congress project, exploring questions like “To what extent is Congress designed to make laws that reflect the will of the people?”
Government in Action
The course culminates with Government in Action, during which students are advisors to interest groups and create political action plans, synthesizing what they have learned throughout the course.
University of Washington researchers investigated whether this project-based approach to the course could result in the same or better performance on the AP Exam as compared with student performance on the exam after taking the traditionally taught AP course. Researchers also measured students’ engagement and performance on measures of deeper learning. Preliminary findings showed that students report higher degrees of engagement and interest in the Knowledge in Action classrooms and they perform equally as well on the AP Exam.
Ongoing research taking place across nearly 70 schools and five urban districts will evaluate if these results can be replicated within multiple, varied school contexts. Preliminary results from the research reveal that after implementing KIA for an entire school year:
Learn More about the Research
Visit the Knowledge in Action page on Lucas Education Research’s site to find out more about the research results.
of teachers would encourage their school to adopt KIA curriculum for all AP classes
of teachers would encourage non-AP teachers to use elements of the KIA project-based approach and also plan to use KIA the next time they teach AP U.S. Government and Politics
of teachers plan to use elements of KIA in their non-AP U.S. Government and Politics courses
A revised AP U.S. Government and Politics Course that is fully aligned to the new College Board APGOPO framework is now available.
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