How to Teach American Politics (and Other Subjects) Effectively

"Effective teaching is especially important to those of us in political science because we teach subjects – politics, governance, democracy, authoritarianism – that are vital to everyone in our world, not excepting ourselves and our families. We may be especially aware of the fragility of democracy now, but democratic systems are always fragile. Maintaining them requires work. So it isn’t simply a privilege to teach political science. It’s a necessity. Moreover, teaching it engagingly is a learned skill."

Marjorie R. Hershey | Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Indiana University - Bloomington

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How to Teach American Politics (and Other Subjects) Effectively

Marjorie R. Hershey

After spending several decades leading her department's graduate seminar introducing the mechanics of political science education, Dr. Marjorie R. Hershey shares her ideas, experiences, and perspectives.

Marjorie R. Hershey | CC BY NC SA 4.0 license – Allows redistribution, revisions and additions but forbids commercial use.

Marjorie R. Hershey | CC BY NC SA 4.0 license – Allows redistribution, revisions and additions but forbids commercial use.

 Published: December 1, 2022

 Published: December 1, 2022

Pages: 77

Pages: 77

ISBN 978-1-878147-63-9 (e-reader)

ISBN 978-1-878147-63-9 (e-reader)

What other political science educators are saying about the book...

By compiling the insights of an exceptional career as a dedicated teacher-scholar, Dr. Hershey provides the field with an immensely valuable resource. How I wish it had been available when I first began my own teaching career! It showcases Dr. Hershey's creativity, wisdom, and excellence in the classroom, providing a superb pedagogical model to emulate. But the book also presents approachable, candid, and genuinely hilarious insights that remind its readers that teaching is a lifelong learning experience full of failures, reinventions, and successes. This book will help teachers of all experience levels improve their approach to students, the classroom, and the discipline. I look forward to reading it again before the start of each new school year!

Ian G. Anson
Associate Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Table of Contents

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………

  1. What’s the Purpose of Our Undergraduate Teaching?
    • How to Put Together a Syllabus
    • Know Your Academic Environment              
    • How to Choose the Readings
    • Tests
    • Research Papers and Other Assignments Likely to Promote Learning
    • Be Sure to Include “The Rules”
    • Suggest (or At Least Identify) Sources of Help
  1. Preparing Your Lectures     
    • The Imposter Syndrome
    • What Is a Lecture For?
    • At What Level Should You Pitch Your Lecture?
    • How to Decide What to Talk About in a Lecture
    • “But Why Do We Have to Talk About History if This Is a Poli Sci Class?”
  1. Delivering a Lecture    
    • The First Day of Class
    • A Teacher Walked into a Classroom…
    • Presenting the Lecture
    • Using Active Learning and Discussion in a Large Lecture Course
    • Pacing Your Lecture
    • Helping Students with Note-Taking
    • Lecturing Online
    • Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Teaching
    • Guest Speakers
    • Handing Back Exams and Papers
    • Assessing Your Lecture
  1. How to Lead a Productive Discussion 
    • Here’s a Plan for Holding a Discussion Section as Part of a Lecture Course
    • Other Specific Recommendations for an Effective Discussion
    • How Do You Get Students to Talk (Productively)?
    • Leading Discussions Online
    • Learning Students’ Names

 

  1. How to Get Students to Do the Readings
  2. Teaching While Female, Young, Black, Latino, LGBT, Nonbinary, or…
  3. Grading – the Dark Side of Teaching (and Ways to Make it Easier) 
    • Deriving Standards for Grading Essays and Papers
    • What about Students with Poor Writing Skills?
    • Grading on a Curve?
    • Identifying and Responding to Cheating and Plagiarism
    • Study Guides?
    • Extra Credit?
  1. Non-class Teaching: Supervising Internships, Readings Courses, Honors Theses, Advising Clubs                                   
    • Which Opportunities Should You Avoid, and How You Can Do That
    • Office Hours
  1. Safety and Civility – In and Outside of Class    
    • Preventing Uncivil Behavior
    • Resolving Student Complaints
    • Civility toward Other Class Members
    • Keeping Students Safe
    • What to Do about Device Use in Class and Non-Attendance
    • A Note about Partisan or Ideological Bias
    • Dealing with Students Outside of Class
  1. Working with Teaching Assistants  
    • Specifying a TA’s Responsibilities and Opportunities
    • Working with Undergraduates as Teaching Assistants
  1. Student Evaluations
  2. Demonstrating Your Teaching Effectiveness for Promotion and Tenure 
    • Assembling a Teaching Portfolio
    • If You Need to Increase Your Student Enrollments
  1. What If You Aren’t in a Tenure-Track Position?
  2. A Brief Word of Encouragement  
  3. Works Cited                       

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