APSA Teaching Workshop – Call for Proposals

The APSA Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs will host a two-day, teaching-oriented workshop for faculty in the field of international relations. The workshop is scheduled for October 20-21 and will be led by Joyce Kaufman (Whittier College) and Victor Asal (University at Albany – SUNY). A full description of the workshop and link to submit a proposal is here.

Please note that the deadline for submitting a proposal is August 6.

Active Teaching & Learning in Bogotá, Colombia


Today we have a guest post by Kent Kille, Matthew Krain, and Jeffrey Lantis from The College of Wooster, Ohio, USA.

framework-skyWe recently led a three-day workshop on active teaching and learning in international studies, sponsored by the Centro de Estudios Políticos e Internacionales, at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá, Colombia. The workshop was based on a best practices framework that we devised for teaching with purpose, called EEPA:

  • identifying clear Educational objectives;
  • exploration of a wide range of possible Exercises, with the goal of choosing ones that best meet the instructor’s objectives;
  • developing clear and explicit Procedures for implementation to help guide the students and the instructor;
  • incorporating critical Assessment, debriefing, or other forms of structured reflection to achieve learning outcomes more effectively.

Workshop sessions included simulations, case teaching, structured debates, teaching with visual media (such as film) and alternative texts, and included discussions about the effective use of technology and experiential learning opportunities. Participants had the opportunity to engage in and experience different applications, and we focused on detailing effective methods for debriefing and assessment. The workshop ended with sessions focused on syllabus development and on publishing materials and exercises in the scholarship on active teaching and learning.

We found like-minded and conscientious teacher scholars in Bogotá who were already using some of these approaches and eager to think more systematically about how to make their classrooms even more student-centered. For example, faculty from the business school engaged us in conversations about how to adapt and use Apple’s “Challenge-Based Learning” curriculum at the college level by incorporating problem-, service-, and community-based learning. Faculty members teaching about entrepreneurship shared ideas about exercises that helped students learn to better interact with and serve community-based clients, and discussed how to assess them. We worked with an economics professor to develop procedures and assessment for data literacy and visualization exercises, and with political science professors on simulation design. And we enjoyed wide-ranging discussions about the utility of Colombian-authored, Colombian-focused case studies, exercises, and texts.

Evaluations of the workshop were overwhelmingly positive. Participants reported that they were thinking about how to implement or modify pedagogical strategies in line with the ideas discussed during in the workshop. All seemed grateful for the opportunity to begin to develop a local community of teacher-scholars in Bogotá. Expect to see professors from universities in Colombia begin to connect to professional opportunities for, and publish about, active teaching and learning in the very near future!

The Twitter Communication game

I’ll confess that I’m disappointed that my wit and charm weren’t the biggest talking points from last week’s ALPS workshop here at Surrey. Instead, people seemed more interested in one of my games, which they got to play. Therefore, I’m going to try and do the ju-jitsu move and try to write about said game in a witty and charming manner.

The premise of the game came from an observation many years ago that Twitter (which I didn’t use at all) seemed to be a nonsensical medium: you pump out stuff (in tiny short chunks) and maybe someone reads it. Sounds lame, my (deeply suppressed) American side said.

So, not being one to waste an opportunity to share my powerful insight, I thought about how I could turn this into a game for the negotiation module/course I was re-writing at the time. The result, with only minor variations, stands before you. Continue reading “The Twitter Communication game”

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?

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 “Fish out of water?”

A quick reminder

Just a reminder that if you’d like to apply for one of the bursaries to help you attend our fabulous workshop at the University of Surrey, then you need to get your paperwork in by midday Friday 6th May. We’ll still be taking bookings after that, but why miss on the opportunity.

Of course, I’m reminded that there are several roundabouts between Heathrow and Guildford, so it might all go wrong with getting the Americans here.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Holy GrailAre you interested in learning about new and alternative pedagogies in political science? Join the ALPS crew for a free workshop on the subject in merry old England. The workshop will be held on May 26 and 27 on the bucolic grounds of the University of Surrey in Guildford. Lunches are included. All you have to do is successfully make your way past the rabbit of Caerbannog and plonk yourself in a nearby hotel.

Session topics will include:

  • Active learning core concepts.
  • Use of case studies.
  • Integration of social media.
  • Creation of a flipped classroom.
  • Problem-based and competency-based learning.

Go to the EventBrite invitation for more details.

This event is made possible by the generous support of the Political Studies Association and the American Political Science Association Specialist Group International Engagement Fund.

Caerbannog Rabbit

ALPS podcast from Hong Kong

Because everyone has HK$163000 to drop on a solid gold Stormtrooper…

As you know, we’ve starting some podcasts this year. After the warm reception to our first effort, you can now listen to some thoughts from Hong Kong about how we all have to deal with institutional constraints, ways in which we can brings students into more active learning approaches and how to make it all hang together. Plus some other stuff.

Horses for courses: why L&T is always problematic

12985592_10154231179959063_2464463777051743496_nI gotta tell ya: Hong Kong is a great place. I’m on the verge of saying it’s the most cosmopolitan city I’ve ever visited, and I’ve lived in (and loved) London. It’s a true melting pot of cultures, where everything seems to be the product of exciting blendings of East and West, North and South.

I’m only able to tell you this because this week I’ve been visiting, in order to run a couple of our ALPS workshops at the City University’s Department of Politics and Public Policy. Just as engaging as the city itself has been the chance to spend some time working with the colleagues there on their situation and interests about developing active learning.

However, rather than just make this a travelogue or an advert for our very-well-received and insightful workshops, I want to unpack a couple of issues that came up in our discussion that have a wider bearing.

Continue reading “Horses for courses: why L&T is always problematic”