Activities Database

The purpose of this database is to provide analytical tools that enable students to develop critical thinking skills.

CALIS analytical tools are content-based. Each tool provides context for information by placing ideas in a conceptual framework.

Tools provide rigor, depth and balance. The social sciences examine complex questions about the human condition. When we engage students in studying, let alone decision-making and problem-solving about these questions, tools provide structure and flexibility.

Tools are used with cases. This database homepage includes an overview of analytical tools & case teaching. For further background, visit the High School Case Teaching Initiative and the Analytical Toolbox.

Case Transcripts are a goldmine!
Radio is a goldmine resource for compelling, accessible case readings! We have permission from National Public Radio to develop case transcripts. We also received permission from American Public Media to use transcripts from Marketplace.

Each case transcript is linked to its NPR or APM broadcast as an option to use radio media. The audio augments student engagement while still focusing on text. Regular reading -- through radio news -- models the civic habit of following the news. For English Learners, the audio is a highly effective support to complement the text.

The case format is designed for active reading and citing text, and each case is followed by three levels of case questions: main ideas, inference & implications, and relating to “the big picture” or a larger context of issues.

Case teaching is not current events. Cases are meant to be very purposefully “mapped” across a course as layered opportunities for students to practice using analytical tools.

Analytical Tools and Case Teaching
The art of blending content & process

CALIS received national recognition for our direct service in classrooms and innovative use of analytical tools in secondary social science education. Among 100 university nominations, the CALIS outreach program was selected in 2005 by the Goldman Sachs Foundation Prizes for Excellence in International Education as one of the top three in the United States.

It is the CALIS mission to promote student-driven analysis through case teaching with analytical tools. Through the interdisciplinary field of international relations, we are developing tools and cases for history, government and economics that include ethics, psychology, area studies, etc. Case readings are drawn from primary sources, news radio, news magazines, think tank reports, classic literature and contemporary novels. Case teaching both challenges and supports students to contend with a wide variety of concepts and perspectives.

Systematic tools are necessary to manage complexity and approach controversy with depth and balance. As a professor in law school or medical school uses cases so that students can practice law or practice medicine, so must social science students use cases to practice civic engagement using effective, empowering tools.

The collection includes reference files, activities and cases for each of these analytical tools:

Four Worlds (4W) – Actors, Factors & Dynamics
The four worlds analytical framework distinguishes between the political-military, economic, social, and cultural worlds. Students identify that each world has its own constellation of actors with various sources of power; each has differing priorities and tools of influence; and each affects the other. A case can illustrate how "the four worlds collide" and how any policy response will have trade-offs between the interests of different actors and between the needs of society.

Worldviews – The Logic of our Assumptions
The worldviews model is a framework for comparing multiple perspectives. Students identify different sets of assumptions and how these beliefs form a lens that filters one's view of the world. Using the DEPPP process, students can trace the logic of how assumptions guide our analysis - how we Describe an issue, Explain its causes, Predict its evolution, 
Prescribe policy, and Participate as an individual.

Levels of Analysis – Distinguishing Groups of Variables
Levels of analysis is a framework for considering which factors are most important in influencing or determining international relations: 1) human behavior and the role of individuals, 2) state behavior and the domestic needs of nation-states, and 3) international or systemic conditions of anarchy or balance of power. Students can evaluate an event, condition, or trend with greater clarity and depth in studying causes and possible solutions.

Continuum  Ideal Types in Perspective
Placing values, ideas, or policies along a continuum is an analytical framework that affords tudents a critical point of reference. Whether it is a spectrum of attitudes toward cultural inclusion or the range of beliefs on the role of government, determining where to place a specific case along a continuum makes abstract concepts more clearly concrete - while revealing the complexities of nuance and relative perspectives.

Concept Map  Relationships & Big Ideas
A concept map is a visual outline of terms, events, issues, and concepts that illustrates relationships. It is an important tool for the teacher to use in order to map the lesson - identifying the significant issues and big idea that will be explicitly explored throughout the unit of study. A concept map is also an excellent review or pre-write exercise. It clearly identifies terms and content as specific criteria for assessment.

Two Search Functions

1) Search using key words --RECOMMENDED. Some topics have search tags and some items have descriptions that include a tag for related materials.

2) Browse -- This search option has not been further developed since the initial set-up of the database. We hope to revisit this feature in a future upgrade.

Database files are offered as Word docs that can be edited (customized) with any changes a teacher needs or wants, but we ask that USC CALIS source credit always remains intact.

Classroom-ready materials have two links:
handout - the “clean copy” file for students
guide - a version of the handout that is full of teaching notes

IMPORTANT: Analytical tools are not entered to this database as lesson plans. Tools come in the form of reference charts, continuums, and concept maps that outline terms and provide context. The guide version of the tool file will most often point to related cases.

CALIS materials are used by USC students involved in our Teaching International Relations Program (TIRP). TIRP teams review the collection in order to plan and teach at local high schools: TIRP Search Tags

As the collection is strengthened, we hope that teachers and students -- nationally and globally -- will adopt and adapt case teaching with analytical tools. We are in the continuous process of weeding, upgrading, updating, and restructuring to better serve a wider audience of users. Your questions and feedback are welcome! | 213-740-7794

Updated: October 26, 2016

CALIS is an outreach project of the School of International Relations

© USC-CALIS 2016