Insurgent Pedagogy, Unlearning, Tinkerers & Radicals in the Classroom

Yes..I know Giroux, Friere, Halberstam, etc etc… I know for a fact that I’m standing on the shoulders–stepping on the toes–of better pedagogues. And don’t you dare start with “have you read the lit. on (insert blah book on teaching & learning)”… this is a rant…know and respect the genre.

Today I openly declare my allegiance to pedagogical insurgency, to unlearning, to methodological radicalism

…EVERYTHING that I learned through the dominant method of teaching left my head moments after I left undergrad–it is gone. Little nodes and neurons unconnected and lost in a sea of note jumbles and short answer essays. It makes me nauseous to think about how many years I spent perfecting “doing college classroom” only to have it result in … nothing.

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Are students conservative, or just scared?

Other people's classes always seem to be more fun
Other people’s classes always seem to be more fun

Yesterday, I was invited to talk to a colleague’s class in another university. As always, it was good to get out and about and see other places (even if that place was a tad unprepossessing), but it was the discussion over a sandwich afterwards that was most enlightening.

Discussion was ranging over a number of topics, when one of the party said that they were always surprised by how conservative students have become, in the sense of disliking anything other than conventional, lecture-and-seminar formats. This has come after someone else had related how they felt obliged to provide the more passive lecture content in addition to the active learning, so that their (final-year) students wouldn’t feel too deprived of knowledge.

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The Whys and Why Nots of Using Technology in the Politics Classroom: a Research Framework – Guest post by Alexandra Mihai

downloadThis guest post from Alexandra Mihai (IES, Brussels) was originally published on her blog, The Educationalist

Having been working for about nine years on designing and delivering technology-enhanced courses on European Studies, I became familiar with the community of politics/ IR scholars who adopted technology and integrates it- to different degrees—in their teaching practice. Very soon I came to realise that this is actually “a bubble within a bubble”, a small part of the group of academics interested in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, i.e. in reflecting on and conducting research activities surrounding their pedagogical practice.

While regularly attending various international e-learning conferences, I quickly became aware of the fact that, while social sciences in general were less represented, politics/ IR were a pretty rare occurrence. This intrigued me and prompted me to look around myself, talk to my colleagues and peers and try to find out if this is indeed the case, if politics scholars are slower and more reluctant in adopting technology and using it in teaching than their peers from other disciplines. A few years and many conferences and workshops later, my experience confirms what I had intuitively known all along.

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Are university students special?

This will mean nothing to many of you, which will be your loss.
This will mean nothing to many of you, which will be your loss.

Let’s try to get past your reflex answer/snort/mutter and consider this question with a bit more thought.

It’s something that occurs as I head to Portland for TLC 2016, leaving behind (for a bit) my new Fellowship, much of which is concerned with disseminating academic research to a wide variety of audiences.

In particular, I wonder whether the teaching we provide in our university classrooms is that different from the teaching we might give elsewhere, or even from the dissemination work that goes beyond this. Continue reading

Equal Ground Game: Word Challenge

I owe 100% of the credit for this game to Ashley Rondini at Franklin & Marshall College.

The Game: Word Challenge

Potential Topics: Social Justice, Attribution Error, Levels of Analysis, Methods and Measurement, Bias and Hidden Assumptions

Materials: Envelopes, letters for each team (listed at the bottom of this entry), timer
Prep Time
: 5 minutes (mostly cutting squares and putting them into envelopes
Play Time: 5 minutes
Class Size: 6-100
Debrief Time: As long as you like, this one just keeps opening up the more you look at it. I bridged directly into my lesson. So… 15 minutes debrief and then to lecture.

How to Play:

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Engaging Students, Part 3: The Muddiest Point

Transforming students from passive listeners into actively engaged learners need not be a grand task that requires extensive planning. It can start with a simple decision to reserve a short period of class to review and clarify the lessons of the day.  Taking us beyond the relative uselessness of just asking whether anyone has any questions, and seeing none, moving on, the ‘Muddiest Point’ technique requires students to actually think through what they do and do not understand, and forces us as instructors to ensure that comprehension is universal.

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Engaging Students, Part 1: Quotes

Hello ALPS world!  I’ve been letting Chad and Simon do all the talking lately, and we can’t have that!  I’m back with the new year and ready to share more ideas on how to make our classes more active.  My focus is going to be on techniques, large and small, aimed at engaging students and improving learning, all which you can apply in your classes without a lot of extensive planning.  Many of these ideas are published, but that doesn’t mean they are widely known, so my plan is to feature some of them on this blog.  Try those that appeal and let us know how they work!

This week’s technique comes from Elizabeth Barkley’s (2010) book, the aptly named ‘Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty’.  What I like about this book is that it talks about general tips and strategies for improving engagement as well as specific techniques.  Each of the techniques is explained and categorized, has step by step directions, examples, and ways to vary the technique or apply it in an online environment.  It is a great resource for promoting active learning in your classes. Today’s technique is the fourth in her book, called ‘Quotes’.

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