Hey! Be my buddy?

buddyIt’s conference season, and I’m guessing you’ve had the usual moment of sitting down for a panel, only to get one of those presentations that just doesn’t work.

I’m thinking of the “I know you said 15 minutes, but I’m going to talk for 30+”, or the “I’m going to just read the words on my slides”, or even the fabled (but rarely-spotted) “I’m just going to read out my paper, verbatim.”

I’ve been lucky this year and not had anything so egregious, but I’ve talked to plenty of others who did get these. Not even the silver lining that someone had actually written their paper before the conference could make up for it. Continue reading

Farewell to Surrey

A few thoughts inspired by the recently-concluded Political Studies Association-sponsored Workshop on New Pedagogies at the University of Surrey in Guildford, as I sit in Terminal 3 at Heathrow.

Not a hobbit
Not a hobbit

Active learning strategies present several advantages and disadvantages for teachers. First, they often recognize that people don’t necessarily all learn the same things at the same speed. Any classroom in which these techniques are employed can be thought of as an effort in differentiated instruction — which can be beneficial when students possess varying amounts of prior knowledge.

Second, these methods create spaces where students can and often must behave in different ways. Not only can this force students to figure out how to ask the important questions in the right ways, it can also increase their motivation, an important intermediary variable when it comes to learning.

Third, many active learning exercises include a meta-cognitive stage in which a student’s articulation of his or her understanding is what produces understanding.

Also not a hobbit.
Also not a hobbit.

Fourth, active learning can, if implemented properly, offer opportunities for students’ conceptual, skill, and emotional development. Integrating all of these dimensions into the classroom requires careful consideration on the part of the instructor, but the payoffs can be quite high.

We’re podcasting again!

CjYLfnYUYAIP_Eo With our latest workshop all safely put to bed, myself, Victor, Amanda and Chad took some time to sit down and talk about what we’d covered and discovered during their time here in the UK. You can listen to the results on our latest podcast.

We talk about the differences in US and UK universities, how we adapt ideas to new situations and about our future plans. And Shot Jenga (which I am totally trying to fit into a class).

Thanks again to the PSA/APSA for their generous funding which made it all possible.

There’ll be more posts from us in the coming days on what we covered, so do keep an eye out for them.

Fish out of water?

whirlpool-883755_960_720
That whirl I mentioned

It’s only a couple of days until we get to run our PSA/APSA sponsored workshop here at Surrey, so it’s a whirl of organisation around here.

Since I’m going to get everyone to try and chip in some thoughts as we go, I’m not going to dwell too much on the planned activities, but instead think about the potential dynamics that might arise.

While some of us very cosmopolitan, it’s also the case that others of us haven’t crossed the pond too often (at least to judge by someone’s queries about ATMs, sockets and mobile telephony standards).

I recall when I first met the ALPS people, back in New Mexico in 2011, I was also largely unaware of what to expect or of how things were. For me, it was a very liberating experience. Continue reading