Year Awarded: 2016
College of Sciences
Active learning fosters academic success and critical thinking. When students take part in the learning process they learn more, retain more, and think more than when operating in the passive mode. Thus whether analyzing pressing public policy questions, performing statistical analysis on data to investigate a research question, or using the internet to compare politics in Florida to other states my students are expected to be actively involved in their education.
Students learn basic facts and concepts through repetition. All college students can learn the material if they see it, hear it, and/or read it several times. During lectures and online I repeat myself in several different ways when there are complex concepts to learn. For face to face classes I counsel my students that most will need to review their notes regularly on their own at least three times to really learn the material. For online classes I encourage students to read the modules, books/articles, and websites multiple times.
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 emphasize how local, state, and national political decisions affect us directly here in our state in our day to day lives. My classes require students to find and give their opinion about current events.
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 course learning objectives and module objectives which emphasize the most important points, and then tests and assignments are keyed to those objectives.
Criterion based evaluations are better than norm referenced evaluations and encourage cooperative learning. Since I believe in using objectives, students discover that, if they meet or exceed the objective, they will do well in the class regardless of how well, or poorly, others do. Students (and I) find this to be a fairer and more valid way of assessing what they learned than competing against their peers; it also encourages cooperative learning.
Students work harder when high but realistic expectations are set and they feel that the professor cares about them. I set high but realistic expectations for my class and post a “Welcome and Warning” announcement to let them know that the course is serious with a big time commitment. I also make a personal connection with each student to the best of my ability by learning and using their names, giving them prompt individualized feedback on assignments and tests, and answering questions (in person, Webcourses discussion, or by email) quickly, patiently, and professionally.
I am a better teacher when I engage in research. When I do original research I am more up to date on the current literature and do a better job explaining how political knowledge is generated.