Associate Professor of Political Science
James Madison University
Office: Miller 2143
Office Hours: Tu 10-11, 1-2;
We 9:30-11:30 & Th 10-11
Department of Political Science, JMU
97 E Grace Street, MSC 7705
Harrisonburg, VA, 22807
Office phone: (540) 568 7332
I regularly teach three different courses at JMU:
- POSC 295: Political Science Research Methods
- GPOSC 225: U.S. Government
- POSC 386: The U.S. Judiciary
Since the Spring 2010 semester, I have been working with a modified version of Team-Based Learning (TBL) in my classes. TBL, as the name suggests, focusses on student learning in teams, which means that instructors lecture less and students work more on activities that apply the course material to those questions that the course material is meant to be applied to. For this to work, students have to do the readings before class, which means that there are regular reading quizzes (which are taken by individual students and by student teams, which in turn leads to interesting discussions on the readings!). One of the challenges that require me to adapt the TBL approach is that most of my classes are taught in 50-minute units, which is not a lot of time for group work, group feedback, and short lectures to clear up any questions that students could not answer as a team. As a result, I am tinkering with the preparation (i.e., reading quizz) process, to maximize the time available for actual applied team work in class.
I think that TBL is great for several reasons: First, I think the factual side of political science is fairly easy to learn. Students get much more bang for the buck if we force them to do the factual work on their own and use the class time to actually do something with the factual material. Second, it's more fun and effective to work and learn together with other people. Third, being able to work in teams is an important skill that employers are looking for.
Team-Based Learning was developed by Larry Michaelsen, and organizational psychologist and professor of management at the University of Central Missouri. You can find more information on the approach here. I learned about TBL in the 2009-2010 Madison Teaching Fellows group on TBL.