Fourth part of Practical reflections on mid-career teaching: guest speakers and tutorials – Faculty focus
Welcoming a guest speaker virtually or in class is potentially a highlight of the semester, but more often than not, it’s a disappointment. The pitfalls are numerous and include unprepared and unmotivated students who do not see a connection between the guest’s visit and the course’s learning objectives, as well as guests who give long, conventionally structured lessons. leaving only a few minutes for discussion. I have a number of strategies to overcome these pitfalls. First, you need to i) choose topics for the guest lecturers that involve some level of controversy and / or cover information that will be relatively new to the students; and ii) make it clear to your students how each guest visit relates to the themes and objectives of the course. Cohen’s (1993) model is commendable. It highlights unusual guests “to expose students to possibilities they might never have imagined.” In addition, this instructor connects guest speakers to an assignment. Its students hear from libertarians, socialists and supporters of LaRouche. After addressing these three ideological views through reading materials and guest lectures, students write an article articulating an argument about the most compelling position and whether this ideological view has any chance of being incorporated into American politics.
Second, in my experience, a question-and-answer format is often more productive than a traditional conference. Ask the guest speaker to limit their remarks to 7-10 minutes, then immediately move on to a question-and-answer session. Alternatively, tell students to read a newspaper article written by the speaker, watch an interview or listen to a podcast featuring the speaker before class, and then have the guest’s visit focus entirely on the speaker. questions answers. The shift to a more interactive question-and-answer format strikes a better balance between active and passive learning; it allows the students to lead the discussion and allows the teacher to welcome more than one guest during the semester. Focused question-and-answer sessions with guests on a specific issue can often reach their goal in 20-30 minutes, while traditional guest speakers take an hour of class. You can incorporate more outside voices into your course by organizing such condensed guest tours.
Third, you need to use a discussion system for question-and-answer sessions. Students are required to register as discussants throughout the semester. Stakeholders are responsible for taking the initiative in asking questions and offering feedback and leading small groups or discussion rooms. To do this effectively, discussants need to conduct additional research, familiarizing themselves with key positions on the topic, which can lead to penetrating questions that engage the guest and their classmates. They can raise critical cases that shed light on the issue. The speakers having set the scene, the other students feel at ease and join in the conversation. Finally, debriefing sessions with the students are essential, either immediately after the guest leaves or, in my case, a week later, so that the students have time to reflect on the discussion and come back with Additional Information. To facilitate structured thinking at the end of the question-and-answer session, I run a pair thinking activity for 6-7 minutes.
Reflect through tutorials
The tutorials present a unique small classroom environment in which to introduce a variety of exercises. Bromley (2013) emphasizes that classes should include a range of active learning activities, as students have different learning styles. The key is to ensure that students have multiple opportunities both to learn in their most natural learning orientation and to be challenged to adopt unusual learning styles. Much of what students do in college is in-depth deliberative analysis done over several weeks or months, resulting in long results. Tutorials can complement this learning style by incorporating problem-solving exercises at the individual and group levels. At the group level, students can be asked to solve a problem by working together and “thinking on their feet”. The problem can be theoretical or political. The key is for students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills in a way they could use in an organization in the future: quick thinking with a pressing deadline and only 1 to 2 minutes to summarize their best points. . Specific roles should be assigned to group members, including facilitators, note-takers, presenters, and negotiators. You can ask two groups to negotiate with each other to find common ground and synthesize their ideas into a common position. Or you can organize a classroom vote, using either old-fashioned pieces of paper or online polling systems, to determine which proposition students find most compelling.
Another effective didactic exercise is to send students on short assignments outside the classroom. In one of my classes, students have 45-60 minutes to identify a product or service on campus or in a nearby neighborhood that embodies either globalization or a national trading system. In the remainder of the tutorial, the groups “show and tell” their products or services and explore the similarities and differences between the groups.
At the individual level, students can develop their qualitative research skills in tutorials. I ask students to interview a senior, defined as a person aged 70 or over, and ask them the following questions:
- What does globalization mean to you?
- Have you seen the most change in your life in social, technological, or a combination of both?
In this exercise, students process new information, integrate this information into larger concepts and discussions, and make comparisons with interview material presented by their classmates.
Another individual-level tutorial exercise asks students to complete MIT’s “Moral Machine” scenarios before class. Students must face the ethical dilemmas presented by the advent of self-driving cars. How should such a car be programmed in the face of choices such as prioritizing human life over animal life, or younger pedestrians over older pedestrians, and whether pedestrians who break the road law deserve? less treatment than law-abiding pedestrians. Students find these scenarios stimulating, as they are forced to lay bare some of their basic assumptions about life. The following conversation is lively. Importantly, I then compare the responses of these students to the over 40 million Morale Machine simulations that have been performed by individuals around the world. Together, we outline national, regional and global trends and examine where and why the class aligns with and differs from these patterns.
Finally, the tutorials should focus on interactive discussion; you should be wary of involving too many student presentations as they tend to lead to too passive learning. A former colleague is fair when he specifies that each student can give a speech of no more than 5 minutes and that all presentations must follow the same structure: they must use five slides and they must conclude by asking three questions.
The next and final part of the series focuses primarily on grading, but ends with a set of resources that I consider valuable as instructors strive to be better teachers, especially in an age of online learning.
Justin Robertson is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and International Studies at City University of Hong Kong. He specializes in international political economy and his research focuses on new capitalist forms in emerging markets. He is the author of Localizing Global Finance: The Rise of Western-Style Private Equity in China and US-Asia Economic Relations: A Political Economy of Crisis and the Rise of New Business Actors. He has published articles in Globalizations, Global Networks, International Political Sociology, New Political Economy, The Pacific Review, and Review of International Political Economy. A teaching award-winner, his teaching approach involves encouraging students to conduct primary research, leading a vibrant classroom with interactive software and problem-solving exercises, and connecting students with experts in the field and share their findings with practitioners.
Bromley, Pam (2013) “Active learning strategies for various learning styles: simulations are only one method” PS: Political and political science, Flight. 46, No. 4, 818-822.
Cohen, Mel (1993) “Making Critical Thinking A Reality in the Classroom” PS: Political and political science, Flight. 26, No. 2), 241-244.