Interactive education in public administration (1)

Date01 September 2014
AuthorJonathan Brock,John Alford
Published date01 September 2014
Subject MatterArticles
Interactive education in
public administration (1):
The role of teaching
John Alford
University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Australia and New Zealand School of Government, Victoria, Australia
Jonathan Brock
University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Schools of public policy and administration are increasingly adopting interactive case
teaching (long used in business schools) as one of their primary pedagogical methods –
not least because of its usefulness in both stimulating engagement by students and helping
them turn that engagement into learning. This article and its companion piece (Inter-
active education in public administration (2): Strategies for teachers) acknowledge and
explain this usefulness, but go beyond cases to also include other forms of what we call
teaching ‘objects’. Starting with an outline of the educational rationale of interactive
teaching, this article explains the nature of ‘objects’, how they enhance learning, their
relevance specifically to public policy and administration, and what distinguishes good
from poor objects. It focuses primarily on why teaching objects are used. The companion
article sets out how to use them, laying out strategies for instructors.
case teaching, interactive teaching, teaching objects, teaching structure
In her widely credited book Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision-Making,
policy scholar Deborah Stone (2011) describes an exercise she uses to shed light on
different notions of equity or fairness. She brings a chocolate cake into class, and asks
Corresponding author:
John Alford, Australia and New Zealand School of Government, PO Box 230, Carlton South, Victoria 3053
Teaching Public Administration
2014, Vol. 32(2) 144–157
ªThe Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0144739413515491

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