The Database in the Classroom

The Virginia State Elected Officials Database Project has been designed and constructed specifically for use in the classroom. The data and summary statistics at the core of this Project offer students and teachers a set of empirical indicators and measurements reflective of past and present politics and government in Virginia. These indicators and measurements, to be certain, do not represent or recognize every political or social development in Virginia since 1776. No set of statistics or cast of storytellers could ever dream to accomplish this heroic feat. This Project, however, invites students and teachers to view and to explore this database in two related ways: first, as one of several useful reference points for assessing government and politics today; and, second, as an opportunity to become more active, critical and inquisitive participants in the reconstruction and preservation of Virginia's political history.

Students and teachers should find the identified paper topics and discussion questions both challenging and helpful for thinking about the past and present conditions of representative government in Virginia, and also for considering the general attributes and historical development of democracy in the United States. Since 1776, the capacities of the national, state and local governments have changed in numerous and often dramatic ways. The composition of these governments-including the Virginia General Assembly and Virginia's U.S. House and U.S. Senate delegations--also has changed, as have many of the other defining characteristics associated with representative democracy in the United States: for example, the nature of political careers, the process of candidate recruitment and selection, campaigns and elections, the strengths and roles of political parties, the interest and participation rates of voters, and the content of legislative, judicial and administrative policies. The Summary Statistics page of this Project is designed to aid students and teachers in their examination of these changes.

In "Research Paper Topics and Discussion Questions," students and teachers will find the research topics and questions that guided the construction of the present Database. These topics and questions remain ripe for discussion or further exploration in research papers.

"New Research Areas" describes the new types of data and summary statistics the Project presently is committed to collecting and compiling. These data and statistics will be incorporated into the Project database and made public later this year. Interested students and teachers are invited to examine the research questions that frame this ongoing work.

Research Paper Topics and Discussion Questions

New Research Areas (Spring-Summer 2002)