Year Awarded: 2004
College of Arts and Sciences
Active learning fosters academic success. When students take part in the learning process they learn more and retain more than when operating in the passive mode. Thus whether attending a local council meeting, performing statistical analysis on data to investigate a research question or using the internet to learn about politics my students are expected to be actively involved in their education.
Students learn through repetition. All college students can learn the material if they see it, hear it and/or read it several times. I repeat myself in several different ways when there are complex concepts to learn and start each class reviewing the most important points from the previous lecture. I also counsel my students that most will need to review their notes regularly on their own at least three times to really learn the material.
Students will work harder and learn more if the course is relevant to their lives. Many students are not motivated to learn material because they believe it has no bearing on them. I always emphasize how local, state and national political decisions affect us directly here in our state in our day-to-day lives. All my classes include a current events component.
Students learn more and are more efficient when given objectives. Most students are willing to work quite hard to learn material, and achieve the grade they want, if they know specifically what it is they need to learn. All my classes are given learning objectives and study guides which emphasize the most important points and then tests are keyed to those objectives.
Since I believe in using objectives, students discover that, if they know what I ask, they will do well in the class regardless of how well, or poorly, others do. Students (and I) find this to be a more fair and more valid way of assessing what they learned than competing against their peers; it also encourages cooperative learning.
Students work harder when they feel that the professor cares about them. Many students, particularly in large sections of required courses, feel they are a number at best and anonymous at worst. I make it a point to encourage attendance, learn my students names and give them prompt written feedback on all assignments and tests.
I am a better teacher when I am engaged in research. When I do original research I am more up to date on the current literature and can do a better job explaining how political knowledge is generated.