About The Choices Program
The Choices Program is a national education initiative developed at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies. The Choices Program develops curricula on current and historical international issues and offers workshops, institutes, and in-service programs for high school teachers. Course materials place special emphasis on the importance of educating students in their participatory role as citizens.
Teachers say the collaboration and interaction in Choices units are highly motivating for students. Studies consistently demonstrate that students of all abilities learn best when they are actively engaged with the material. Cooperative learning invites students to take pride in their own contributions and in the group product, enhancing students’ confidence as learners. Research demonstrates that students using the Choices approach learn the factual information presented as well as or better than those using a lecture-discussion format. Choices units offer students with diverse abilities and learning styles the opportunity to contribute, collaborate, and achieve.
The program seeks to empower young people with the skills, knowledge, and participatory habits to be engaged citizens who are capable of addressing international issues through thoughtful public discourse and informed decision making.
Teaching Resources Are Grounded in Scholarship
Choices curriculum units feature rich content, drawing on the best scholarship available. You'll find historical and contemporary primary source documents, including maps, images, and editorial cartoons. A growing library of Scholars Online videos, aligned with printed units and embedded in our iBook Textbooks, brings content experts directly into your classroom.
Common Core, 21st Century Skills, and National Standards
The teaching resources and pedagogical approach of the Choices Program align with Common Core and National Standards for social studies. Our materials have always stressed textual analysis and the consideration of multiple perspectives. Choices resources also address a range of 21st Century Skills including:
- Critical thinking
- Creativity and innovation
- Media and technology literacy
- Global awareness
- Civic literacy
The Structure of a Choices Curriculum Unit
There are two kinds of units—those that are shaped around an unresolved current issue and those that are shaped around a historical turning point. All units involve students in a dynamic conversation connecting the past and the present. Units provide readings and student-centered lesson plans, including a deliberative activity in which students consider divergent views. See a chart comparing the Choices approach to current issues and historical turning points.
What Research Says
- Teachers using Choices curriculum resources report positive academic outcomes for students.
- Choices materials and pedagogical approaches work well with students of varied academic ability levels.
- Students in Choices classes appreciate the opportunity to engage in serious discussions in which the views of students take center stage.
- Students in Choices classes form rich conceptions of what it means to be engaged citizens.
- Research findings are drawn from a longitudinal study (Discussing Controversial Issues) housed at the Wisconsin Center for Educational Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For complete results see What the Research Says.