My enthusiasm for teaching political science at CSI is motivated by my desire to share my interest and passion for the scientific study of political systems and actors, as well as, my belief that a responsible citizen is civically informed and engaged. As a teacher, I have strived to always view assignments, activities, and discussions from a student’s perspective in order to create experiences that are worthwhile and advance the student’s understanding of both the narrower topics of the course and his/her/zir broader understanding of society and his/her/zir role within it.
I prefer to use concise, instructional lectures that lead quickly into discussions, debates, or breakout group-work that engages students in learning. It is easy, I have observed, for introductory classes in political science to become civics courses much like a high school government class. Thus, I find it essential to frame topics in both the context of real world political action and the discipline’s exemplary research (both current and foundational), help students understand the ongoing debates in the discipline, and ensure students have an adequate understanding of social science research methods.
In the classroom, I am also aware of diverse abilities, learning styles, and levels of education. For these reasons, I find it invaluable for students to have individual access to their instructor. I always want to be available, either in person, in virtual space, or through phone/email to students beyond typical office hours. Students that seek out individualized help and instructor guidance are more likely to succeed and consider the course valuable. I want to also encourage students to seek me out for guidance on critical skills and topics like research paper writing, the use of citation software and statistical analysis packages, finding internships, becoming politically active in the community, and transfer and career exploration.
It is also true that a discipline that involves the discussion of political systems and current events requires a respectful environment to foster discussion and engagement. I recognize that the college classroom may be the first opportunity students have to encounter people with diverse perspectives and backgrounds. It is the role of the instructor to ensure that the appropriate environment exists for students to learn and communicate.