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date: 23 February 2018

Teaching about the Global Political Economy

Summary and Keywords

Pedagogy is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of teaching. Pedagogy informs teaching strategies, teacher actions, and teacher judgments and decisions by taking into consideration theories of learning, understandings of students and their needs, and the backgrounds and interests of individual students. The teaching of global political economy (GPE) offers an alternative, and a challenge, to conventional economics education. Its emphasis on the competing currents of economic thought and their association with rival political philosophies adds complexity to the subject. However, this engagement with controversial issues creates more intellectual excitement than a narrow, “technical” treatment of orthodox analysis. There is also more scope for students to link their own personal experiences with the broader concerns of political economy. By emphasizing a liberal educational philosophy, educators can attain a more grounded approach to study, relating to students’ own experiences and more explicitly acknowledging the role of personal and political values. Scholars argue that there are viable alternatives to the standard micro-macro-quantitative curriculum and to the conventional teaching of economics. A pedagogy emphasizing controversies, linking competing economic analyses and different political perspectives, is possible. Ultimately, the teaching of global political economy has some inherent advantages as a means of interesting and engaging students.

Keywords: pedagogy, global political economy, theories of learning, conventional economics education, liberal educational philosophy, political philosophies, orthodox analysis

Introduction

Best practices in teaching about the global political economy (GPE) differ little from best practices in teaching and learning period. Consistently, research demonstrates that the most effective learning takes place when students are actively engaged in a subject matter that is meaningful and relevant to them (Dewey 1933; Pullias and Young 1969; Kraft 1978; Kolb 1984; Brown, Collins and Duguid 1989; Boehrer 1990–1; Christensen, Garvin, and Sweet 1991; Menges and Weimer 1995; Lantis, Kuzma and Boehrer 2000; Hakel and Halpern 2002; McKeachie and Svinicki 2005; Baxter Magolda 2006, 2008). This chapter borrows from the innovative faculty around the world, who responded to a query about their favorite and most effective pedagogy, assignment, and assessment instrument in their teaching of GPE (see Appendix A for a copy of the query sent; see Acknowledgments for a list of faculty respondents).

The chapter explores pedagogies beyond “the lecture” – not because lecturing is inherently bad or because it has lost its intrinsic value in conveying information via great storytelling. Certainly faculty, religious leaders, and politicians captivate audiences with spellbinding and effective speeches quite regularly; Tal Ben-Shahar (Harvard’s “positive psychology” phenomenon of the decade), Martin Luther King, William Sloan Coffin, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt come to mind. Still, research demonstrates that the lecture can be less effective over the long run; students typically forget some 50 percent of course content within a few months of taking lecture-based courses (Stice 1987). Moreover, active learning “focuses on skill development, the integration and use of knowledge, and the cultivation of lifelong learning” (Garvin 1991:8). Effective active learning strategies require students to rehearse “critical skill competencies – including oral, written, and interpersonal communication, as well as computer and information literacy – in the process of articulating their own discoveries, ideas, and analyses” (Golich 1997:64). Along the way, students reinforce course content by using virtually every “intelligence” dimension (Gardner 1996). Therefore, the chapter focuses on the variety of active learning pedagogies available to faculty as they seek to engage their students in deep, meaningful, and enduring learning about the world around them.

Next, the chapter reviews a variety of assignments and assessment techniques that faculty can deploy to enhance the effectiveness of teaching and learning in their classrooms. Focusing on pedagogies first, in some ways, places the proverbial cart before the horse. Good teaching really all begins with the question: What should students think, know, and be able to do if they successfully complete a particular GPE course? Careful thinking about and delineation of Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs) must precede the building of a syllabus, with its requisite pedagogy plan, reading lists, and assignments (Diamond 1998; Walvoord and Anderson 1998; Nichols and Nichols 2000). (Sample SLOs for international or global education can be found at www.acenet.edu/Content/NavigationMenu/ProgramsServices/cii/res/assess/index.htm, accessed July 2009.)

In some ways, separating pedagogies, assignments, and assessments from each other is an exercise in arbitrariness. For example, teaching via simulation requires faculty to assign readings and exercises designed to familiarize students with relevant materials, and to assess student engagement in the exercise. Thus, some assignments – such as preparing a speech or a legal brief – align more readily to this type of pedagogy than, perhaps, working on a research paper. Likewise, faculty will need to assess student performance based on participation, oral acuity, and reasoning; therefore, assessment instruments will need to include at least something focused on speaking, involvement, and persuasive effectiveness, such as those found and discussed at the National Communication Association website (see www.natcom.org/nca/Template2.asp?bid=264).

Nothing in this chapter should be interpreted as the best way to teach or to generate meaningful learning; everything should be understood as ideas to be considered by faculty as they design their courses and curricula. It is always best for faculty to adapt ideas to their subject matter; their comfort level; the “career” level – e.g., first year, undergraduate, graduate – of their students; and campus context.

Pedagogies

While instructors build GPE courses around a wide range of SLOs, the most critical seem to converge around three primary objectives: (1) Build and hone skills in critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, problem-solving, and application; (2) Connect abstract and macro-level concepts with real-world events and situations; using real-world events and situations to explain abstract and macro-level concepts; and (3) Increase student awareness of their attitudes and values (see e.g., Brookfield 1987; Paul 1990; Breuning, Parker, and Ishiyama et al. 2001). The variety of pedagogies, assignments, and assessment instruments explored here range from very basic activities like the “minute paper” that require little advance planning to considerably more elaborate teaching tools found in simulations. Each example discussed has been used successfully in a GPE classroom – either by the authors or by colleagues. Every pedagogy discussion includes a brief explanation of the approach, SLO rationales, potential resources, and the resultant class activity. Though individual activities are described separately, each may complement another (e.g., combining case method and discussion-based teaching) or inherently be part of another activity (e.g., a group presentation of a report).

Reading Materials

Of course, reading materials are an integral component of course design. Faculty typically use a combination of reading assignments from a range of resources, including news media, journal articles, specialized thematic books, case studies, and a core textbook. The latter serves as the primary scaffolding for course design, and faculty are aided or constrained by the works that are available. One of the earliest textbooks used in international political economy courses was Joan Spero’s The Politics of International Economic Relations (1977). This book, which for the past several editions has been co-authored by Jeffrey Hart, is now in its seventh edition (Spero and Hart 2009). This work introduces students to the relationships that emerged among states in their attempts to organize monetary, trade, and investment systems in the aftermath of World War II and beyond. Since 1977, many texts have been published that added explicit theoretical treatment of global political economy phenomena, additional themes (for example, globalization, energy, the environment, or conflict between North and South), and institutions (World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, etc.).

Book titles can signal an ontological position: Is the subject under consideration the interaction of states and multiple national markets, or is it a complex of actors, only some of which are states, engaging in global markets? Less traditional scholars like Susan Strange used the initials of Spero’s title (PIER) as shorthand for criticizing state-centric analyses. In the case of one well-known text, a shift in title signaled a shift in the author’s view: Robert Gilpin’s 1987 textbook, The Political Economy of International Relations, was retitled, revised, and reissued in 2001 as Global Political Economy: Understanding the International Economic Order (Gilpin 1987; Gilpin and Gilpin 2001). In contrast to Gilpin’s earlier text, Stephen Gill and David Law chose to emphasize the global nature of economic relations with their title: The Global Political Economy: Perspectives, Problems and Policies (Gill and Law 1988). They specifically refer to “the global political economy as the key ontological entity […] to be theorized and explained,” and further call attention to “a world where nuclear weapons, integrated capital markets, and global ecological threats have scant regard for national boundaries” (Gill and Law 1988:xxiii). While several recent books retain “international political economy” in the title (Grieco and Ikenberry 2003; Balaam and Veseth 2008; Oatley 2008), many others refer to the “global political economy” (Gill and Law 1988; Gilpin and Gilpin 2001; Ravenhill 2005; Cohn 2008).

Textbooks often take, either overtly or covertly, a theoretical stand: While introducing multiple theoretical approaches, textbook authors often identify a theoretical position as being the one which is best or most representative of reality. An author’s analytical view may not correspond to his or her normative position. For example, Gilpin, in his 1987 textbook, explained that, “Although my values are those of liberalism, the world in which we live is one best described by the ideas of economic nationalism and occasionally by those of Marxism as well” (1987:25). In his more recent textbook, Gilpin identifies his perspective as “state-centric realism,” though his state-centric realist analysis does not necessarily coincide with a normative view consistent with economic nationalism (Gilpin and Gilpin 2001:14–15).

Other authors take a critical or radical view and address issues that are not considered GPE or IPE problems by the more traditional authors. Robert O’Brien and Marc Williams, who seek to integrate the “material and ideational aspect of IPE” (O’Brien and Williams 2007:2) in a more heterodox approach, see fit to include discussions of the global division of labor and global climate change in their text. The textbook edited by John Ravenhill, another example, includes an in-depth discussion of the social consequences of globalization (Ravenhill 2005).

Many of these textbooks are organized into a first section that deals with theory and a second section that deals with themes or topics. Gilpin’s text is divided between the first half, which explains answers to theoretical and causal questions concerning the political economy (e.g., What are the main theoretical approaches to the study of global political economy; what role do national systems of political economy play in the global political economy?), and the second half, which applies the answers to topics in global political economy, such as the trading system (Gilpin and Gilpin 2001). Others (e.g., Gill and Law 1988) take a similar approach, but place more emphasis on how the main theoretical approaches to global political economy – economic nationalism, liberalism, and Marxism – inform the study.

In addition to textbooks, many instructors assign collections of readings to supplement the texts. Among the most widely used are those edited by George Crane and Abla Amawi (1997) and Jeffrey Frieden and David Lake (2000). While there are benefits to students reading snippets of primary key texts and scholarly articles, a reasonable question can be asked about whether the bit of the classical or contemporary literature that the students are exposed to clarifies or skews the students’ understanding of the contributions that the authors have made.

Case Method

The case method offers instructors a valuable tool for connecting abstract concepts with real-world events and situations and vice versa. Many case studies take the approach of “a snapshot in time” by describing an event or situation, giving just enough background information for students to have a basis of knowledge to discuss and strategize issues. Having students read about Russia’s ambitious plans under President Vladimir Putin to exploit its oil resources (see Rotnem 2005) provides a basis to discuss the essential takeover of the multinational corporation YUKOS, as well as laying a foundation for considering the economic strategies Russia has employed to shore up its hold on the oil industry since that time. It is one thing to talk or read about monetary policies and the economic theories that underpin them. It is quite another to expect students to develop a solution to the monetary crisis triggered by Korean economic meltdown in 1997–98 (Corning 2000). Likewise, discussing various development strategies differs substantially from considering a real-world example of how Nike’s production of running shoes actually affects countries, labor, and consumers (see Clancy 2000). Case studies thus push students to “connect the dots” of who affects whom and how. Moreover, students are encouraged to tie together various aspects of GPE. While considering the effects of the Cold War, the Asian flu crisis, and global trade on Thailand’s economy, students realize the extensive role women and prostitution play in the country’s export industry (see Weir 2007).

Anything from brief newspaper articles to formally published case studies provide fodder for using this approach. Cases provide students with basic information about an event, issue, or situation. The best cases “reconstruct real-world contexts that are inherently ambiguous, complex, confusing, and not easy to untangle” (Mingst and Mori 1997:64).

With the instructor as the facilitator rather than the conveyor of information, students engage in careful analysis, which involves culling out the key points necessary for understanding the topic, answering questions, making decisions, prioritizing objectives, and building generalizations. Case method teaching increases student awareness of attitudes and values they bring to the table as they confront conflicting views and information and are pressed to defend their own position. A debriefing session at the end of the discussion provides the time to reconcile the information as it relates to foundational course concepts. Case study might be incorporated into the course curriculum at the end of each section as a way for students to apply theories and concepts to real events involving monetary, trade, investment, or development issues. Working through actual problems compels students to undertake comprehensive analysis that reveals the inextricable linkages and reciprocities among various GPE issues. Faculty have the option to require students to make sure their recommended solutions are politically, economically, and socially feasible – even environmentally green.

Study Abroad

Study abroad comes in a variety of forms. The traditional idea involves students studying at a foreign university. Alternately, study abroad may instead allow students to travel abroad with their instructor for a specific course, or for an international aspect of community service learning (see below). Various literature suggests that while some students do not fully benefit from their international experiential learning, pedagogically it is possible to design a course in such a way as to better take advantage of the experience (Citron and Kline 2001; Lutterman-Aguilar and Gingerich 2002; Thies 2005). A program offering study in London, UK – the financial center of the world – offers a perfect opportunity for a GPE course. A trip to “the City” affords students a visit to the Bank of England where they can learn about the gold standard, when the country might adopt the euro and why, and monetary exchange rates. A visit to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich gives students a visual impression of the impressive evolution and extent of British colonization and trade that continue to impact the global economy. Any number of additional sites through the city and surrounding region both enhance learning and immerse students in the local culture.

Community Service Learning

Community Service Learning (CSL) came of age in the 1980s; research now confirms that this powerful pedagogy contributes to a “wide range of desirable outcomes that are consistent with a higher level of affective and cognitive complexity,” including the promotion of racial understanding, an increased sense of political and social efficacy (Chickering 2008:92), and improved capacity for deep self-reflection that “involves questioning and examining one’s assumptions, beliefs, mental models, values, and a host of other qualities that characterize meaning” (Fiddler and Marienau 2008:78).

CSL can dramatically demonstrate how seemingly distant and unrelated GPE forces affect even the most local community agency partner. Faculty might find some good ideas or inspiration in either Hobson and Seabrooke’s Everyday Politics of the World Economy (2007) or Tétreault and Lipschutz’s Global Politics as if People Mattered (2005). By adopting a civic approach that emphasizes “mutual responsibility and enlightened self-interest,” as well as partnership, collaboration, and reciprocity (Bell, Mattern, and Telin 2007:61), faculty compel students to gain important insight into the ways in which they can make a difference and how national and international policy-making affects their lives (see e.g., Battistoni 1997; Boyte and Farr 1997; Scott 2004; Bell, Mattern, and Telin 2007). Assignments could include working in agencies that provide services to undocumented immigrants, which would compel students to reflect on the GPE forces that moved these people to leave their home countries despite the multiple obstacles confronting them as they seek a better life. Another fascinating assignment might involve working in a food bank and considering all that is involved in agriculture and getting food from farm to table.

CSL courses should generate “mutually beneficial outcomes for students, instructors, community partners, and the host academic institution” (Bell, Mattern, and Telin 2007:62). Students learn firsthand how contributing to the public life of their community can yield substantial personal satisfaction, while literally observing how seemingly remote GPE events and policies affect themselves and others around them. Of course, the community partner should derive benefits from the work conducted by the students on their behalf; the academic institution profits from positive public relations in the community; and faculty can benefit from community-based research.

Here’s an example from a Global Development class taught by Cynthia Chávez-Metoyer at California State University San Marcos, located in northern San Diego County: All students worked with one community partner, Migrant Education. The course objective was to provide students with a firm grounding of leading explanatory theories of development and a keener understanding of some social outcomes of development by giving students opportunities to gain a firsthand look at one important social development need in our community, namely education for migrant workers and their children. By tutoring and mentoring children of migrant workers, students gained an understanding of “development” not solely as an economic goal/achievement, but also a social one wherein human development (i.e., literacy, health and nutrition, housing, personal safety, etc.), is integral to and impacted by the economic “development” (or lack thereof) of other countries.

In a collaboratively taught Spanish and education credentialing course, two faculty combined efforts to enhance language skills and deepen cultural awareness. Intermediate-level Spanish students learned about the social, educational, and economic situation in Guatemala and the College of Education faculty shared a picture slide show of her work there. Then they wrote a letter to a Guatemalan school child who was just about to complete his/her elementary education, congratulating the child on his/her graduation, encouraging him/her to continue studying, and adding whatever other message my students wanted. A bona fide writing lesson, students wrote multiple drafts, and received peer and instructor feedback including feedback on cultural appropriateness of some of the things they wanted to convey. The letters were added to backpacks that students had filled for each child to provide the child with some school supplies along with other small gifts. The Education faculty and students then hand-delivered the letters and backpacks to the Guatemalan children, and brought back pictures and notes of thanks for the Spanish students. In evaluating the project, both faculty were impressed by the quality of work produced by the Spanish students, noting that in terms of their grammar and vocabulary usage and style, it was clear that their effort was far superior to that demonstrated on other composition assignments, most likely because there was a real-world audience and a serious real-world purpose behind their writing (Strother and Díaz-Greenberg 2007).

Even though many students cannot – for various reasons – travel or study abroad, they can be exposed to global development issues in local own communities that ultimately connect back to the global economy. In the example described above, students were better able to understand why cheap labor is cheap (as well as the causes and societal consequences of cheap labor); why agrarian goods are more volatile on the world market than industrialized goods (and therefore, why the latter are more valued in a capitalist world economy); why human capital is valuable to sustainable development but is often traded/neglected for infrastructural investments; why the terms of global trade are skewed against developing countries and marginalized workers.

All students were required to invest about 20 hours over the course of the semester. Students’ SL experience and a reflective journal accounted for approximately one-third of overall class performance. There were no traditional exams, and students were held accountable for the readings with a reading log.

As with other active learning strategies discussed in this essay, CSL compels students to connect with course materials in a more meaningful way than they would if they were passively consuming knowledge from the “sage on the stage”; instead students become responsible for constructing knowledge that will make real and tangible differences in the lives of others.

Debates

Debates are a familiar teaching method that can effectively challenge students’ preconceived notions, attitudes, and values. Andrew Oros (2007) offers a compelling argument for using Structured Classroom Debates (SCDs) to stimulate more careful and comprehensive analysis of the kinds of complex and complicated problems that plague political decision makers. For example, to debate the tenuous relationship between the global economy and global environment successfully, students must become familiar with multiple facets of the issue. When properly designed and implemented, debates require students “to think through implications of certain theory or arguments and to organize supporting evidence in such a way that they can express their views on the subject directly” (Oros 2007:305). As a result, students sharpen their critical thinking skills, while also rehearsing their abilities (1) to listen carefully – as they must to rebut an opponent’s argument; (2) to articulate a coherent and cogent argument orally – as they must to persuade the audience; and (3) to “think on their feet” – as they must to develop effective responses to another’s position.

SCDs require teams of students to debate a question – a resolution – prepared outside of class. As they work on their approach to the assignment, students have the opportunity to enhance their information literacy skills and learn to work collaboratively to achieve a common goal. In addition to primary source research, faculty might introduce students to the basic arguments through assigned readings in compendia such as Taking Sides, Annual Editions, or Global Studies (each published by McGraw-Hill/Dushkin), chapter-end “policy-analysis and debate” boxes, such as those in Thomas Oatley’s International Political Economy: Interests and Institutions in the Global Economy, consideration of seminal works edited by George T. Crane and Abla Amawi (1997), or readings that center around debates within the field such as Anthony Payne’s Key Debates in New Political Economy (2006).

Evaluating debates effectively requires faculty to have clearly articulated criteria for each element of the debate. Oros recommends including at least the following: (1) Clear, coherent argumentation; (2) adequacy of evidence brought to bear; (3) clarity of presentation; (4) effectiveness of argumentation and reasoning (Oros 2007:296). This process of carefully delineating expectations helps students understand that faculty evaluation is grounded on sound and objective criteria; this also helps students understand the difference between the expression of one’s unexamined opinion and the articulation of a reasoned argument.

Group Activities

Students frequently resist participation in group activities. Pedagogically, however, group work can be invaluable. Well-designed group activities can help build student confidence in overcoming the greatest fear – public speaking. By starting small and building up to speaking in front of the whole class, students can practice their oral communication strategies. Likewise, working in groups can enhance interpersonal, collaborative problem solving, and teamwork competencies – an increasingly critical skill in today’s world of work. As David Wilsford bemoans, too often, undergraduate education “takes place in an interactive vacuum….Most workplaces, however, are exactly the opposite. Most of what students will accomplish as employees will be collaboratively based, in team projects and in interactions with peers and all layers of an organizational hierarchy” (1995:224). This “academic” claim was validated in a recent interview with a top executive in a major San Diego-based corporation: Asked what the most important skill employers sought in potential employees, he replied instantly, “The ability to work in a team to solve a problem or create and market a product” (J. Pettitt, personal interview, August 20, 2007). With respect to content, group activities such as these provide a forum for students to grapple with the theories, concepts, data, knowledge, and ideas in such a way that they comprehend and can apply each – both individually and collectively – to a variety of settings.

Contrary to popular opinion that group work is something to throw together at the last minute if a faculty member failed to prepare for class in some other way, effective group work is highly structured – though it may feel unstructured and informal to the students – and used for specific purposes. A variety of instruments have been designed to assess all manner of group activities – from the more informally organized discussions outlined above to the more formal group-written research paper (see e.g., Golich et al. 2000:62, 64–6). For example, an instructor might divide students into groups of three to five and ask each to explain a concept, analyze an article, or devise a case study solution according to the principles embedded in the paradigms of mercantilism, neoliberalism, Marxism, and/or World Systems Theory. Within a specified time period, each group should report out the outcomes of their discussion for the group as a whole. Alternatively, in a larger class, two groups could be assigned each paradigm and compare their analyses before reporting out to the whole group.

Technologically Mediated

Technologies have often triggered dramatic changes in the way people live and work. The advent of the word processor, the internet, and the photocopy machine devolved to faculty the power to create, assemble, and distribute custom materials for students in ways that previously were the private purview of professional publishers (Schrand 2008:84). The secret is for faculty to think creatively about how to use digital technology to engage students in meaningful learning. The following represent just a few of the possibilities available to faculty in the twenty-first century.

Web-based Lectures

As more students have access to high-speed internet connections and instructors bone up on their computer skills, web-based lectures are finding their way into the classroom – or rather out of the classroom. Prerecorded lectures made available electronically to students to view on their own time free up students to view the lecture, rewind to replay anything they need repeated, take notes, and write down any questions they have. Class time can then be used to address those questions students have about the lecture, discuss assigned readings, and engage students in active learning opportunities.

One of the advantages of providing web-based materials – or even PowerPoint or word-processed lectures online – is that faculty can include links to critical resources, embed powerful visuals via audio or video streaming, and incorporate some interactive assignments or discussions about the materials at hand. This approach to teaching can enhance students’ technological competency and information literacy – both critical skills in the twenty-first century – as they must utilize multiple resources to benefit from the availability of the web-based lecture.

Most technologies faculty might use to produce a web-based lecture will permit faculty to monitor student “attendance” and engagement with the materials, adding yet another variable for them to use as they evaluate student participation and performance.

E-Participation and Discussion Boards

The internet offers an additional forum for student response and discussion. Online participation opportunities are particularly useful for posting timely news articles, new journal publications, or video clips relevant to course topics. GPE textbooks or their internet support site, such as John Ravenhill’s Global Political Economy, might include website links with chapter-relevant websites or further readings that may be used. Some instructors might choose to post these items on a course webpage and have students e-mail them with their responses, while others might set up discussion boards through institutional software such as Blackboard or WebCT which provide forums for interactive student responses. Online participation might be more appealing to shy students or those who are intimidated by more articulate students. Written responses give students time to formulate their ideas and arguments, thus refining these skills. Asking students to read news articles and relate them to course concepts builds abstract thinking skills. Discussion boards encourage students to defend their opinions, thus increasing both student self-awareness and critical thinking ability. When discussing development, any number of real-world examples could be posted to give students a better sense of the difficulties developing countries face – from corruption to indebtedness, the effects of drought to lack of infrastructure – to challenge them to consider options, repercussions, or systemic factors. Student observations, discussion board debates, or even just references to the items posted might be raised in class to supplement lectures or discussions.

Online Teaching

Asynchronous online teaching offers flexibility to both students and instructors. Students appreciate cost savings associated with gas and parking fees; faculty appreciate the ability to continue teaching even though they may be off campus conducting research or participating in a conference. Students also benefit from increased access to educational opportunities, especially when they have work or family obligations that prevent them from getting to a campus.

Yet another benefit from online teaching “is that the Internet is literally at your students’ fingertips. You can link to online resources for students to explore” (Clark-Ibañez and Scott 2008:37). With respect to SLOs, online classes require substantial self-discipline on the part of students, thus improving life skills related to time management and their ability to stay focused and “on task.” Research demonstrates that the online teaching environment involves intense participation, and makes space for those students who typically do not participate in a regular classroom situation due to shyness, insecurities, or anxieties (Palloff and Pratt 2005). Moreover, students report that they feel like their “voice” is heard more effectively and frequently in online teaching (Clark-Ibañez and Scott 2008). Students also appreciate having the opportunity to think about their responses. Faculty report the quality of discussions is very high; indeed, the collaboration associated with online discussions, which require students to articulate positions and respond to each other, compels students to “defend, clarify, elaborate and reform” positions (Wang and Gearhart 2006:64). Not surprisingly, given that students write a lot as they engage in online “discussion boards,” their writing quality improves.

In designing an online course, faculty must remember that technology can enhance a course but it should not dictate the shape of the course (Briihl 2000; Schrand 2008). Research confirms that students care less about sophisticated use of technology than they do about benefiting from good teaching (Oblinger and Oblinger 2005). A number of resources are available to help faculty design high quality online courses; one prepared by Marisol Clark-Ibañez and Linda Scott for a workshop they facilitated in 2008 is particularly recommended (see http://courses.csusm.edu/resources/webct/asa/).

Problem Based Learning (PBL)

PBL is a close cousin to case study teaching. James Rhem explains that most PBL practitioners define it as “an instructional strategy in which students confront contextualized, ill-structured problems and strive to find meaningful solutions” (1998:1). PBL embodies the “discovery-based learning” advocated by Dewey (1933) because students, quite literally, discover what they need to know to solve the problem before them. PBL also enhances critical thinking and information literacy as students analyze how to approach problem-solving and conduct research to craft their potential solutions. Because PBL requires that students work in groups, it yields the skill building benefits of any successful group-work exercise, such as interpersonal communication, teamwork management, and leadership.

Research demonstrates that PBL promotes “a high standard of autonomous learning, while meeting the [faculty defined] academic objectives”; in addition, “there was clear evidence of the development of deep thinking skills and a greater responsibility for learning from each of the student cohorts” (Canavan 2008:179).

University of Delaware Political Science professor, Kurt Burch, has used PBL in IR courses with great success. He offers a helpful hint to faculty who are thinking about using PBL in their classes: “When he was faced with the challenge of converting lectures into ‘problems,’ he remembered a lesson from his English grammar class in school about how easy it is to shift a few words in a declarative sentence around in order to turn it into an interrogative. ‘It’s the same paradigm for shifting lectures to problems’” (Burch 1998).

Assignments

Critical Abstract

Perhaps the most challenging task in teaching students is in helping them to write more precisely and concisely. While research projects are commonly used, training students in methods, analysis, and synthesis, students get little practice at identifying the argument, supporting points, and shortcomings of an article in two pages or less. Within the GPE curriculum, instructors can enhance student learning and sharpen their analytical skills by using critical abstract assignments (see Appendix B) as a complement to reading assignments. Completing a critical abstract impels students to review texts of all kinds more systematically. As a result, class discussions are richer and yield deeper learning.

To be successful, students need to understand what a critical abstract is. The quality of their work from the beginning will be better if the instructor provides students with a sample so they know how to approach the assignment. Opinion editorials from the London Financial Times, the Asian Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Economist offer current analyses of trade, finance, and development issues. Once they have gained familiarity with assignment expectations, students can apply the exercise to journal articles from International Organization, the World Economy or the Review of International Political Economy. (For a more extensive list of GPE-relevant journals, see the International Studies Association’s International Political Economy section webpage at www.indiana.edu/∼ipe/ipesection/). The critical abstract requires students to write with pointed brevity that benefits them regardless of their discipline or career path. Being able to present information succinctly in an unbiased manner not only better prepares students for class discussion, but pedagogically it also develops skills students can then apply when reviewing media sources, case studies, and books.

Discussion Questions

Assigning questions from the end of a chapter text or creating questions from readings is likely a familiar assignment. Some textbooks, such as David N. Balaam and Michael Veseth’s Introduction to International Political Economy, 4th edn., provide discussion questions and keywords for each chapter, prompting students to consider these upon finishing the reading. Building on the provided “food for thought” questions and concepts might task students with leading a discussion themselves, or with writing the questions that will be used during the next class period. When students must write questions, they are more likely to read and to synthesize the material more closely as they work to compose their questions. Requiring students to submit questions before class allows the instructor either to distribute or post the questions electronically before class or to choose a few questions to use during the class. This approach presents a more interactive approach that requires little additional preparation on the part of the instructor. Faculty can add yet another level of learning by taking time to talk about what makes a good question, or assigning something like C. Ronald Christensen’s (1991) chapter about what is involved in developing a question to generate various kinds of thinking and responses.

Journaling and the Reflective Essay

Recording thoughts, reactions, and even consumer purchases can provide a useful way of understanding growth, development, impact, and dependency. (For an excellent review of the general pedagogical value of journaling, see Hansen 2005.) Some instructors require students to keep track of news they followed throughout a semester to evaluate how the content of the course impacted their thinking, values, and attitudes. Increased focus on globalization has led some instructors to have students journal their consumer habits to determine how interdependent they are on various parts of the world for the goods they eat, wear, and use. One instructor offers a unique twist on journaling by using reflective essays, an exercise that tackles the same issues from a slightly different approach: Having students gather data followed by responding to questions with the goal of getting students to “internalize some of what they have done, as well as situate their own experience with others in the class” (Carlson 2008:8). Both journaling and reflective essays encourage students to be more aware of their consumer habits by documenting products and their origins. Caroline Clark requires a “Connection Journal” of her students as a means for them to “map” their dependence on particular regions or even specific countries. Both the connection journal and the reflective essay provoke students to consider their personal connection with the world by analyzing their positive and negative impacts on local, national, and international levels as they relate to producers and manufacturers. Not only can these assignments supplement class discussions of free trade zones, free vs. fair trade, gendered divisions of labor, consumer responsibility, and macroeconomic shifts in employment, but students might also be asked to actually map out their dependence and present it for comparison to others’ consumer practices. The exercise also facilitates consideration of how students’ practices might have changed as a result of such an assignment.

Instructors may opt to have students submit reflective essays online or keep “online journals” as part of a sort of discussion thread, which opens the possibility for students to react to one another’s entries, as well as to comment on how their experiences differ or align. For the more tech-savvy among us, journaling in the form of “blogging” may be an option.

The Alternative Textbook

Using government data or intergovernmental reports from sources such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, or European Union, can be a useful way to engage students. In “Teaching the New Inequalities: Using the Human Development Report as Class Text,” Greta Salem and Carla Freeman (2002) detail how they use the United Nations Development Programme’s annual report to challenge students not only to understand both the research and the policy implications of the diverse conceptual frameworks introduced in each annual edition, but also to see how social scientists work and how knowledge is constructed. Salem and Freeman’s model could be applied to an array of reports on general GPE topics (the UN’s World Statistics Pocketbook, the OECD’s biannual Economic Outlook) or more specific facets within the discipline (the UN’s Developing Countries and the WTO or World Investment Report, or the WTO’s World Trade Report). Some of these reports are available online; some even with free access. Along similar lines, instructors may use the databases and statistics available at the World Bank, IMF, UN, OECD, etc., sites as a way to expose students to the implications of global economic policies. For instance, the development section of the course may center on forecasts from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook Update paired with country comparisons from the World Bank’s Development 2008: Where We Stand database. Ultimately, students learn to “do” social science and discover for themselves some of the realities of the global development described in the more traditional texts.

Opinion Polls

One dynamic way to engage students in a topic they might otherwise think irrelevant to their lives – such as a currency devaluation or a catastrophic tsunami in a developing country – is to run a quick opinion poll at the beginning of class. These can be informal through a call for raising hands to “vote” for a faculty-defined set of choices; a more formal approach that has the added advantages of capturing data over time and granting students anonymity is to use technology such as Turning Point or iClicker. Depending on the question asked, the poll might challenge students’ preconceived notions about how global economy events or policies affect their lives. Alternatively, classroom polls can open the door to increasing student self-awareness. Asking students why they think what they do requires them to explain their attitudes and values with a well-supported argument, drawing on concepts and information from course information. Finally, faculty might learn what students do and don’t know about a concept or topic.

For example, asking students whether liberal economics refers to Democratic Party policy recommendations for the economy or to the role of the individual in the economy helps faculty understand how much time to devote to explaining Adam Smith’s classical liberal economics. Exploring how free trade affects the global economy might open up the discussion to perspectives critical of developing countries for lacking labor standards while opting for cheaper goods manufactured abroad over more costly domestic goods. Polling students about their consumer preferences (i.e., Are you willing to pay more for the same T-shirt?) provides a forum for students to consider the costs and benefits of their buying habits.

Presentations

Asking students to deliver a presentation before the class is a fairly common pedagogical tool. The potential benefits for the students are many as they work to transform the knowledge in their heads into a coherent and cogent lecture that will inform their classmates and demonstrate to their professor that they know the material. One study revealed that “teaching others” yielded the highest retention rate of material of a wide range of pedagogies (Wang and Gearhart 2006:63).

In their preparations, students must think carefully about what to present and how to deliver the materials effectively; processing information in this way improves critical thinking skills. Naturally, delivering a talk before one’s classmates provides students an opportunity to rehearse their public speaking skills; moreover, although their final course grade will likely incorporate their presentation performance, the classroom is surely a safer environment than their first job interview!

Faculty can enhance the experience by connecting the exercise with a number of other kinds of assignments. For example, presenters might be required to provide a related article, information sheet, or chart for each student to prepare prior to the presentation. This adds another layer of benefits as students apply their information literacy and critical thinking skills to select or create the item ahead of time; it could even help students with time management skills as they would have to have these materials ready ahead of time. Members of the audience might be asked to make connections among the various presentations – including their own – with the content of the course.

Peer evaluation (see below) provides yet another option for increasing the value of class presentations as students evaluate, critique, and question one another’s interpretation, choice, and ability to deliver the information.

Curriculum Building

While it may seem antithetical to involve students in curriculum building – after all, aren’t the faculty the ones who are supposed to know what needs to be taught? – research suggests that important learning goals can be achieved with this kind of assignment (King and Baxter Magolda 1999; Baxter Magolda 1999; Myers 2008). In particular, including students – graduate and undergraduate – in curriculum gives them the privilege of voice along with the responsibility of building on their previous learning so they can move to a deeper, more empowered level of comprehension. As Hass has argued, students constitute a “major untapped resource…Students are in the best position to explain many of the advantages and deficiencies of the present curriculum” (2000:303).

One way to get students started in thinking about what might be useful for a GPE course to cover is by having them read Darel E. Paul’s (2006) review of International and Comparative Political Economy GPE syllabi. A complementary approach is to have students find GPE course syllabi through an internet search in order to do a comparison and contrast of the topics those currently teaching feel are worth including along with the resources they use. (The International Studies Association’s International Political Economy section webpage also offers a list of instructors who have submitted their syllabi at www.indiana.edu/∼ipe/ipesection/.) Discussing what students think should be included in a course opens the door for students gaining insight into their own interests, biases, and worldview.

In perhaps the earliest attempt to “take stock” of the development of GPE through an assessment of theoretical underpinnings, subfield concentration, readings, and issues, Robert Denemark and Robert O’Brien (1997) compiled surveys from US and UK university programs. Having students revisit Denemark and O’Brien’s assessment and determination that the field is “inclusive” rather than “traditional” may make for an interesting and challenging analysis of what matters most for a GPE curriculum.

Curriculum building is an ideal exercise for preparing graduate students to teach their own courses or for challenging undergraduates to become experts in a particular field of literature. Pedagogically, this activity provides an invaluable way to introduce graduate students to student learning outcomes, particularly when the class involves compiling topics and course assessment as part of the exercise. What combination of resources students should include – ranging from books to journal articles, media to case studies – is open. The process itself lends well to classroom discussions of each topic area as students work in small groups to determine what materials to include, then as a class to determine what to include in the final list of readings, assignments, and/or activities. This activity promotes critical thinking, analysis, synthesis, and application of abstract concepts, regardless of student status or range of components included in this approach.

The exercise may result in not-so-surprising topics such as “why does/should GPE matter to me?” Surprisingly, however, it may also raise issues not traditionally included in GPE syllabi, such as an interest in the intellectual history of the field’s development or the “contrasting worldviews of the American and British schools” (Cohen 2008). An interest in better understanding the relationship between agriculture and economy may arise because of energy concerns. Tortilla riots and rice shortages put more attention on ethanol and the effect alternative plant-based fuels have on shaping current global economic relations. More common in history and anthropology is how foodstuffs affect politics (bread riots, the spice trade, biogenetic engineering and trade boycotts) than in political science. Student-centered GPE curriculum-building may bring to light such overlooked issues.

Report Compilations

Reviewing and compiling resources to report on an issue, event, or situation can provide the basis for presentation, discussion, or even as a service to those working in the field. This assignment pairs well with the use of reports or databases and statistics in the Alternative Textbook section described above. Compiling current affairs information to make available via the internet could be useful for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) working on a particular continent or region. Groups working in sub-Saharan Africa have limited internet access, while those in the Middle East are subject to censorship. Creating reports requires students to compile the data in a concise, systematic manner. For instructors with NGO contacts, one option is teleconferencing the information to the NGOs. Regional data might also be edited and submitted to an organization such as the Association of Concerned African Scholars (http://concernedafricascholars.org/) to complement their collection of information.

Games

Games offer a fun and interactive way to pique students’ interest by adapting them to classroom use to help students connect the abstract with the concrete. For example, Monopoly might be used to teach students about purchasing power parity by setting different “exchange rates” for each player to replicate the different advantages of countries. For a simple, single class session exercise, Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke (2006) adapted the card game Pit, which simulates the stock market as players trade commodities to corner the market, to give students a great way to better understand the abstract nature of international trade and development. The rules of the game are based on the liberal tenets of free trade. By adding two additional sets of rules to reflect the mercantile and Marxist theories, Pit offers a concrete way to help students visualize the effect these different approaches to the market can have on the process.

With more and more students hooked on computer and video games, using the computer games in the classroom is a creative approach to grounding students’ understanding of the interconnected nature of global and domestic economy. A very simple computer simulation game is Spice Trade (www.spicetrade.org). The exercise offers an alternative view of what could have happened if Middle East spice traders would have been able to keep Europe out of the spice trade and instead became a colony of Asia. Having to balance his “domestic” economy while interacting in the “world” economy, Abu Al-Qazzaz confronts global economic issues that help students better understand the evolution of the trade system.

Civilization IV

(www.2kgames.com/civ4/home.htm) is a more complex, involved computer simulation game wherein the player chooses a civilization to lead, exposing him/her to how military expenditures affect a domestic economy, the constraints that resource availability put on development, and the impact of competition on states’ economic security (Weir and Baranowski forthcoming). Similar to Civilization IV is the free access online game Simcountry (for information www.simcountry.com/cgi-bin/cgip?plog&miSite=simcountry); to play game www.simcountry.com/introtour.html). Though implementing such a game is a more ambitious undertaking – particularly given the learning curve and time required to complete just one game – the pedagogical reward for the effort is worthwhile as students get what is probably the closest thing to emulating the leader of a country and thus understanding the interconnectedness of the global economy and states.

Simulations and Role Play

Classroom political simulations are a commonly used active learning tool. The primary benefit of simulations is that they directly involve students, resulting in a greater understanding of the political process. Most students participating in simulations report that the experience has increased their understanding of the processes simulated and that they enjoyed the experience as well (Kathlene and Choate 1999; Newmann and Twigg 2000; Daugherty 2003; Baranowski 2006; Boyer, Trumbore, and Fricke 2006; Shellman and Turan 2006). Smith and Boyer (1996) argue that simulations have the added benefit of developing critical thinking, speaking, and presentation skills. Daugherty’s findings (2003) suggest that students learn more from a simulation experience than from writing a paper or preparing for and taking an exam. Providing an enjoyable and enriching active-learning experience, therefore, may be a useful tool not only to get students excited about politics and possibly consider political science as a major or minor, but also for the pedagogical benefit of the exercise.

Several significant issues arise with simulations and role play. Simulations are often time-consuming to prepare and may require a significant amount of class time to implement. Since they do not appear to be any less valuable than lecturing, however, spending class time on active learning assignments is not time lost (Powner and Allendoerfer 2008). For introductory classes, time might be more limited given as they tend to require coverage of a considerably wider range of topics than upper-level courses. In addition, as simulations seek to model real political processes as closely as possible, they tend to be fairly complex. This frequently requires that students devote a good deal of time to familiarizing themselves with background information and learning their roles in the simulation. Kathlene and Choate (1999), who conducted a ten-week political campaign simulation, conclude that for a simulation to reach its full potential, the class should be composed of a large number of motivated students possessing solid writing, research, and analytical skills and with a background in political science or a related field (Kathlene and Choate 1999). Even for those in these ideal circumstances, instructors may still seek creative ways to engage students.

A variety of simulations and role play scenarios are available, both in print and software, to immerse students in problem-solving situations. Turning to Hobbs and Moreno’s (2004) “Simulating Globalization: Oil in Chad” offers a step-by-step guide for instructors new to role play scenarios. The simulation puts students into the thick of negotiation by assuming the roles of states, international NGOs, and MNCs. This immersion gives them the firsthand experience of the complexities and demands leaders, activists, and business people encounter in trade.

Having had the benefit of Hobbs and Moreno’s instruction, the instructor has any number of resources to turn to for additional simulation and role play scenarios, including The Fair Game, International Futures, and ICONS Project. The Fair Game (www.marquisproject.com/) offers an online computer simulation that actually consists of six separate scenarios highlighting different aspects of the global economy, such as production, technology, and the environment. By assigning students different roles as market managers, traders, producers, and the like, students work to resolve global economic issues. International Futures (IFs) (www.ifs.du.edu/) is also an online computer simulation designed to forecast long- and short-term effects on a country or region by manipulating variables such as food production, energy consumption, and environmental practices. ICONS Project (www.icons.umd.edu/) resembles an online model UN simulation where students from various universities around the world interact via the internet. Though most well known for its conflict-based scenarios, ICONS Project also runs simulations such as “Globalization and Nigerian Oil” that are appropriate for GPE classes.

While computer simulations usually require some in-class instruction to overcome the learning curve involved with using these types of programs, print versions generally require dedicating in-class time for preparation. Simulations and role play activities facilitate building and honing critical thinking and reasoning skills. As students work to connect abstract classroom concepts with the simulation scenarios, their personal attitudes and values are also challenged. Putting students in roles of leaders, buyers, and sellers improves their understanding of how their decisions can impact a situation.

Building a Webpage or Creating a Video Essay

Requiring students to utilize contemporary technologies – both as part of their research and as part of a culminating assignment – provides a wealth of opportunities for students to sharpen their information and technology competencies; to gain fluencies in software programs related to web design, video editing programs, and Global Information Systems (GIS); and to connect with the communities that the “Ivory Tower” serves as their easily accessible work can break “down the traditional barriers between town and gown” (Watts 2008:5).

Despite fears that working in the digital world might erode traditional proficiencies related to close textual analysis, argumentation, and careful writing, at least one historian, Jill Watts, observed in her classes that “adventuring into the digital world has actually sharpened these skills.” She goes on to note that, “the physicality of hyperspace, the arrangement of information on webpages,” and the pithiness required of video essays compelled students to grasp “the need for crystal clear writing,” because the only way to retain their audience is “if their prose is comprehensible” (2008:5).

As implied in their names, webpage building requires students to create a webpage and a video essay calls for students to create a video to respond to a question or discuss a topic rather than to write a more traditional essay or research paper. In each case, rigorous research – in both traditional primary and secondary format and the digital world – is expected. Each requires analysis and application as students connect events and situations to micro- and macro-level concepts. Faculty will likely be more pleased with the project outcomes if they take the time – in class sessions – to train their students how to use and assess technological tools and resources so that students will move beyond being “passive recipients of the dazzle of technology to [become] active critical thinkers who see past the surface of images and sounds.” The end products provide a basis for presentation and discussion as student work demonstrates the connection between course concepts and real world.

Assessment

Minute Paper

The minute paper is one of the most adaptable and useful assessment instruments. When used as a classic Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT), which involves anonymous answers and “next-day” collective feedback, it is an excellent way to determine whether students grasp key points and concepts from a class session (Angelo and Cross 1993). Typical questions designed for this purpose include “What remains most unclear to you from this section/class?” or “Define [insert concept such as Classical Liberalism].” Similarly, a minute paper might ask students to write a one sentence summary of what was covered in class to gauge whether and what they picked up on the key points of the day. This activity is valuable because it allows instructors to determine what students understood and what remains unclear, as well as to evaluate the pedagogical effectiveness of a particular activity. In one study, researchers concluded that the minute paper “provided particularly powerful ‘teachable moments’ by allowing [them] to witness the exact intellectual struggle that was occurring for the students, and then to provoke students in their thinking processes. The combination of anonymity and faculty interest in student learning outcomes [demonstrated by feedback sessions] inspired honest, articulate responses…” (Eisenbach, Curry, and Golich 1998:64). When used regularly, students are more likely to think about the questions or points to include in a summary during the session; in other words, they begin to practice their listening skills and, if given the opportunity, may even increase their participation as they seek clarity of concepts introduced in class (Fabry et al. 1997).

Minute paper variations include seeking input on how well one is teaching by asking something like “Name one thing I could to do improve your learning.” or “What do I do that helps you learn the best?” One interesting question that helps demonstrate the joint responsibility of faculty member and student for learning is “Name one thing you could to do improve your learning.” Yet another variation turns the anonymous exercise into a daily – or frequent – quiz by the simple act of asking students to put their names on the papers.

Peer Evaluation

Peer evaluation can be used for group, presentation, and/or written work. The key to successful peer evaluation is to have clearly articulated assessment criteria, as presented in Appendix C; these can be determined solely by the instructor before being implemented or developed in class by students with faculty guidance. As students use the criteria to assess the performance of themselves and of others, they learn – or are reminded of – the elements of good quality performance in this range of assignments. Research indicates that contrary to popular opinion among faculty – that students will not apply rigorous standards to their own or their colleagues’ performance – peer evaluation provides effective and useful information to assist in course grading. In fact, one study revealed that “slacker students almost always report themselves as the weakest on the team…the difference is whether they contributed 95% (their report) or 50%–75% (the range assigned by their teammates)” (Van Duzer and McMartin 1999; Kaufman, Felder and Fuller 2000; Active/Cooperative Learning 2008).

When evaluating group work, peers assess the quality of their own contributions – based on effort, outcome, interpersonal skills, and so forth – as well as that of their group members. The evaluation forms noted above under the section on Group Activities will obviously be useful in this situation. For presentations, the ideas offered by the National Communication Association referenced earlier would be useful, as are those in The ABCs of Case Teaching (Golich et al. 2000:60–6). For written work, the activity typically involves two or three students exchanging and evaluating one another’s written work, then meeting in small groups to consider the critiques, clarifications, and ideas they have about content and grammar. Students then revise their written work based on the comments and submit both their draft and revised copies for the instructor’s consideration. Peer evaluation is also a valuable way to better engage students in class presentations. Students move from passively receiving information to actively evaluating, critiquing, and questioning one another’s interpretations, choices, and abilities to deliver information.

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Appendix A

In compiling resources and ideas for the Pedagogy in IPE /Compendium/ paper, Vicki Golich and I welcome your contributions. We are interested in any unique, innovative, and/or favorite teaching approach and/or individual assignment you have used in your IPE classroom to achieve a particular learning outcome.

We would appreciate receiving your suggestions by February 4. Please send them by e-mail attachment or with course links to me at weirk@nku.edu.

Thanks very much,

Kimberly

Dr Kimberly Weir

Northern Kentucky University

Department of Political Science

Founders Hall 440

Highland Heights, KY 41099

www.nku.edu/∼weirk

859-572-1483

Appendix B Critical Abstract

Contributed by Loren Cass

Overview: A critical abstract is the written evaluation of the arguments made by another author. Preparing a critical abstract should improve your critical reading, thinking, and writing skills. After reading one of the assigned articles, you must identify the author’s central argument(s), analyze the presentation of the argument, and evaluate the evidence provided to support the argument. You must then decide whether the author is persuasive. Is the argument logically consistent? What types of evidence does the author use? Ultimately, you must decide whether you believe that the author makes his or her case effectively or whether there are fundamental flaws in the argument or in the evidence used to support the argument.

  1. 1 Problem: What is the issue that the author seeks to address in this article? (You should put the issue in the form of a question.)

  2. 2 Hypotheses and variables: What is the author’s answer(s) to the problem identified above? Does the author include competing hypotheses? You should clearly articulate what the author intends to argue in the article.

  3. 3 Argument: How does the author support his or her position? You should not critique the article here, but rather outline the most important elements of the argument. What evidence does the author use to support the argument? Does the author appeal to authority or provide empirical evidence?

  4. 4 Evaluation: This is the section where you evaluate the quality and persuasiveness of the argument. Is the argument logically structured? Does the author evaluate alternative hypotheses? Is there sufficient evidence to support the argument? Are there alternative interpretations of the evidence that the author does not consider? What are the primary strengths and weaknesses of the article? Ultimately, do you find it persuasive?

  5. 5 Request for more information: Often we do not have enough information to effectively evaluate the evidence offered in support of an argument. What information would you need to be able to assess the veracity of the argument? Is there statistical or factual information that would allow you to more effectively evaluate the argument?

Appendix C

Presentation Evaluation

Presenter: ______________________ Start time: ____ End time: _____

General

  • Stapled, hard copy (black and white is fine) of PowerPoint presentation slides

    • 4 slides to a page

    • First slide should be a title page including: topic as the title, name, presentation date, and course section

  • Preparedness

  • Present v. Read slides

  • Clear conveyance of ideas

  • Clear speaking

  • Eye contact

  • Distracting motions and mannerisms (fidgeting, rocking back-and-forth, lots of ‘ums,’ etc.)

In terms of content

  • Organization

  • Mastery of the topic

  • Clear flow of ideas from slide to slide

  • Clear and coherent presentation of information

  • Explained any charts, graphs, tables, pictures, etc.

Use of PPT

  • Consistent background/colors/font/etc.

  • Visible font

  • Appearance of slides

    • Use of titles, headers

    • Use of bullet points and numbers

    • Blocks of text

    • Sentences v. keywords, phrases

    • Punctuation

    • Use of graphics, animation, sound effects

  • Presentation-enhancing features

    • Graphs or charts where useful

    • Numbers, dollar amounts, etc., to reinforce points

    • Relevant pictures

  • Content self-evident

  • Switching between programs

  • Covered all information on slides

  • Boring, plain v. interesting, visually appealing slides

Ability to field questions

  • Mastery of the topic

  • Ability to respond to questions posed

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to acknowledge the faculty who shared their various pedagogies, assignments, and assessment techniques with us. These include David N. Balaam, Renee Marlin-Bennett, Mark A. Boyer, Jon D. Carlson, Loren R. Cass, Caroline Clark, Yin Min Kyi, Liliana Pop, and Mark Zachary Taylor.