Paper and Workshop Themes

Conference Theme

Rethinking the Way We Teach:  High-Impact Methods In the Classroom
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2016 Teaching & Learning Conference: Paper and Workshop Themes

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 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. 

Integrating Technology into the Traditional, Hybrid, or Flipped Classroom
While much attention has been paid to the rapid growth of online teaching in recent years, technology has also permeated into our traditional, flipped, and hybrid classes. This track will address the challenges and opportunities of incorporating technology in courses that include some face-to-face interaction.  These technologies include, but are not limited to, clickers, podcasts, blogs, wikis, synchronous and asynchronous videos, document sharing, and online collaborative tools.  Papers assessing the effectiveness of each tool and how to maximize their effect are welcomed.

Online Learning
Online courses in today’s world offer a unique opportunity for students to expand their knowledge and continue their education without being confined to the traditional college campus. However, it is often difficult to develop an online course that offers quality instruction and student engagement while still maintaining the schedule flexibility many students require. Track proposals may focus on a variety of online learning topics, including but not limited to:  innovative course designs and teaching methods that encourage active learning; improving student engagement with course content; overcoming challenges in online teaching; the implementation and evaluations of specific online learning tools. Additionally, proposals on the development of specific online programs and assessing online courses are also welcome.

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.

Teaching How To Teach
This theme explores the unique challenges facing faculty guiding the development of graduate students, and building and sustaining excellence in graduate programs. Paper topics can include an analysis of program structures and pedagogical approaches, the effectiveness of comprehensive examinations, teaching preparation, and the function of subfield reading lists in the curriculum. Additionally, papers in this theme may also address professional development topics such as how to best mentor and advise students on post-graduate education, dissertation preparation, and portfolio construction. Proposal submissions and participation from directors of graduate studies and chairs are particularly welcome, but not required for consideration.

Teaching Democratic Theory Today
In today’s chaotic, multi-media, and Internet-oriented world, it is difficult to teach democratic theory.  Reading of classic texts may not be sufficient.  This track invites submissions from political philosophy and other theoretical approaches on what should be taught and how it should be taught.  It also welcomes papers on how best to teach political theory more generally and on how to incorporate political theory into traditionally non-theory courses like American government, urban politics, and international relations.  This track also welcomes papers on the special challenges in teaching political theory more generally and how they may be overcome.

Teaching Research Literacy
Encouraging quantitative and qualitative literacy among our students is an increasingly common goal of the political science curriculum, not only in graduate programs, but also undergraduate degrees.  This track will address how political science faculty increase knowledge of research design and methods broadly, including pedagogy relating to all aspects of political science instruction of research-related topics.  Examples of proposals can include problem-based techniques, project based research, team teaching research design and methods, research ethics, innovative teaching tools (software or web-based) for data analysis and interpretation, and undergraduate and graduate research projects in all classes. It welcomes papers that assess the high impact practices for instruction of students across all levels in these areas. Track members will leave with knowledge of the tools and techniques that are most impactful for today's classroom focused on quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Open Call
If your paper or workshop proposal doesn’t fit into one of the above themes, please submit your proposal under the open call category. Open call proposals must still be relevant to the goals of the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference, which is to promote greater understanding of cutting-edge approaches, techniques, and methodologies for the political science classroom. We welcome research on teaching and learning involving any topic or subfield in political science.