Why Do Students Enroll in Political Science Classes?

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


Why do students enroll in political science courses? I conducted an experiment designed to test the appeal of three possible motivations: students might hope to develop valuable skills, look for a better grasp of current events, or expect a deeper understanding of how the world works and their place within it. The experiment involved visiting several sections of Introduction to American Government courses. In each section, I advertised a political science course offered in the following semester. However, I varied the way in which the course was described and subsequently tracked whether students enrolled in it. I find that highlighting opportunities to develop skills does not have a significant effect on enrollment. In contrast, emphasizing “how the world works” is most effective at increasing enrollment. Qualitative evidence suggests that students are attracted to this type of course because it offers the opportunity for personal development and growth.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353 - 360
JournalPS - Political Science and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 502027 Political economy

Cite this