1918 Evening US Citizenship Class

Designing Educational Software, part 4

Product Scenarios

First, we developed some product scenarios. These were case studies envisioning how the program would be used. We developed four in particular as being representative of different types of user: students in a classroom, the adult or ESL learner, the student in a school-based credit-recovery setting, and the homeschooled student. The first three scenarios assume that the teacher has access to an answer key (provided with their account).

Case #1: The eighth-grade civics course

Most secondary education takes place in schools, and indeed, most WorldView Software is used in this setting. For this initial case, therefore, we imagined students using the program in a typical teacher-supervised classroom setting.

The teacher starts a unit by assigning the overview for homework reading the night before. The next class, s/he begins by discussing the overview, and segues into a class discussion of the in-depth topics covered by the map, graph, or art gallery images associated with the overview. Having the product available makes it easy to call up additional information during the course of the discussion from the glossary, chronology, and notable people sections. This class period ends with the teacher assigning a glossary activity (or worksheet) for homework. Slower students can be assigned the factual and/or conceptual questions instead, as a reinforcement for the information in the overview, while others can be assigned the open-ended questions from the case studies as an enrichment. At the end of the unit, students take an assessment test of multiple choice questions.

This scenario assumes that the product is available to the students after school hours on a laptop, on the web, or as a printout, as well as on an overhead projector-type setup for the teacher. It assumes a content-area specialist doing the teaching, and students who are not otherwise highly motivated.

Case #2: The new immigrant

Citizenship classes are offered in more diverse settings. While they usually take place in a classroom, the room itself is more likely to be in a local library or community center than in a school. Also, the participants are more likely to have difficulty with written English. In this scenario, we imagined an adult whose first language may not be English using our Civics e-textbook in order to prepare for the naturalization test in a classroom.

The teacher of the citizenship class uses the overhead to introduce the overview, using the paragraph headings as scaffolding to introduce the main concepts, including any vocabulary that is new or difficult. Students would then have time to read the overview, and to begin the assessment test. Once finished, they could reconvene as a group to go over the overview, paying close attention to areas where they still have problems. There would be more experiential-based discussion, less instruction per se — these are adults, and more time would be spent on comparing their home systems to the U.S. (relative to the eighth-graders). The program would be available in the computer lab before and after class so that students could go through the ancillaries (such as tutorials on the questions on the naturalization test) and self-testing sessions.

This scenario assumes that the product is not available to students outside of the learning center, that the students are adults, and that they are more motivated than the average student in a public school.

[On a personal note, the feature image is of a citizenship class in Allentown, PA in 1918, and the man in the front row corner desk closest to the photographer may be my great-grandfather — we don’t know for sure, but the timing is right and he looks just like him.]


BulbgraphOnOffUse the Practice Test before a lesson for formative assessment; use it after for summative assessment.

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akamran2014

Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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