See below for more information on the 2017 Teaching & Learning Conference paper and workshop themes. Each of these themes will run as a track. Every attendee selects a track in which to participate for the duration of the conference. The conference uses a working group model so that all attendees in each track will serve as, and be listed as, discussants for that track's presentations.
Civic Engagement Across the Disciplines and Across the Campus
This theme will assess and evaluate the active learning techniques that are aimed at enmeshing students into their local and global communities. It is particularly focused on finding ways to teach civic engagement across disciplines and across the campus through service learning, a civic engagement calendar of activities in which all students can participate, and in assessing the most effective techniques to do so. What efforts are being made to utilize events like Constitution Day or registering students to vote to involve students and what do we know from careful assessment about what works and what doesn’t? What is necessary to get the entire university involved in civic learning and civic engagement? What is the impact of these techniques upon civic participation, class participation, or political knowledge and student learning?
Core Curriculum/General Education
Political science course offerings are often a part of an institution's core curriculum requirements. How does political science contribute to and enhance undergraduate general education curriculum? Papers in this theme will evaluate such topics as: assessing the impact of political science courses in developing reasoning and communication skills, and exploring techniques for teaching non-majors effectively. What are engaging and high-impact practices which political science can offer?
The Inclusive Classroom
This theme focuses on efforts to increase diversity, equity, access, and awareness in the political science classroom. Topics may include, but are not limited to: high-impact practices that foster students' understanding of and engagement with people possessing cultural and other identities that are different from their own, the adoption of curricula that are attractive and useful to historically underrepresented groups, and the ways in which content encourages analytical thinking about issues of inclusiveness in governance and politics.
Innovative Subfield Strategies
Political scientists are increasingly expected to demonstrate the discipline’s value and relevance at micro- and macro-levels. This theme explores strategies for overcoming the challenges of teaching a wide body of subfields in a variety of institutional environments. Proposals might address questions such as: How does one design an undergraduate curriculum or deliver a specific course that clearly demonstrates value to both majors and non-majors? How does one effectively teach a topic for which one received no training graduate school? How does one teach graduate students to teach in multiple subfields and at a variety of levels? What are the most engaging methods of teaching quantitative and qualitative literacy to students who possess a diverse set of interests and skills? How can one incorporate community engagement, service learning, or problem-based learning into courses in subfields that might at first glance seem incompatible with these strategies?
Simulations and Games
Simulations and games can immerse students in an environment that enables them to experience the decision-making processes of real-world political actors. Examples include in-person and online role-play scenarios like the Model European Union and ICONS, off-the-shelf board games, Reacting to the Past, and exercises that model subjects like poverty, institutions of government, and ethnic conflict. Papers in this track will examine topics such as the effects of gamification of course content on student motivation and engagement, cognitive and affective outcomes from simulations and games in comparison to other teaching techniques, and the contexts in which the use of simulations and games makes sense for the instructor.
The Socratic Method Today
This theme will explore the Socratic Method in teaching political science and particularly political theory. Proposals might address topics such as: the Socratic Method and its purpose in teaching; how was it understood by Plato and other subsequent thinkers; how the Socratic Method is relevant for the classroom; and effective ways to teach the Socratic Method today. Participants will leave with a greater understanding of the Socratic Method, how to implement it, and its pedagogical value.
The Virtual and Technologically Enhanced Classroom
This track will address the challenges and opportunities of both online and technologically enhanced teaching. Topics will include: innovative online course design and teaching methods, improving student engagement through the use of technology, and incorporating technological and online tools (including, but not limited to, clickers, podcasts, blogs, wikis, synchronous and asynchronous videos, and document sharing) into the classroom. Papers in this track will examine how to maximize the effectiveness of virtual and technological tools for classrooms of all types.