Dr. Nicole Kalaf-Hughes — 2019 CQ Press Award for Teaching Innovation Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the CQ Press Award for Teaching Innovation to Dr. Nicole Kalaf-Hughes at the 2019 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline. The award, supported by CQ Press, recognizes a political scientist who has developed an effective new approach to teaching in political science.

Nicole Kalaf-Hughes received her Ph.D. in Political Science from University of California, Davis in 2012.  She is currently an Associate Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University.  Her research focuses on race and ethnic politics, American political institutions, and legislative behavior, and her work has appeared in Politics, Groups, and Identitiesthe Journal of Public Policy, Policy Studies Journalthe Journal of Political Science Education, and other journals.  Kalaf-Hughes teaches courses in American politics, research methods, race and ethnic politics, and political institutions at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Here is what the Award Committee had to say about their decision:

Nicole Kalaf-Hughes is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University.  While it would be impossible to convey the breadth and depth of Kalaf-Hughes’s contributions to teaching, or the enthusiasm expressed by her nomination letter writers, in a short summary, we wish to share with the broader community highlights from her teaching innovations, research on pedagogy, mentorship, and service.

Kalaf-Hughes has taught undergraduate courses on American Politics, The Presidency, Latino Politics, Racial and Ethnic Politics, Research Methods, State and Local Politics, Legislative-Executive Relations, and California Politics, as well as graduate seminars in American Politics, Research Methods, and Racial and Ethnic Politics.  Her nominators describe her teaching as passionate, innovative, challenging, and highly successful in piquing interest and building skills.

Kailf-Hughes has invested heavily in developing her teaching skills by participating in several pedagogic workshops.  She also shares her talent by serving as a leader in the information literacy community at Bowling Green.  Most notably, however, is her development of an innovative simulation and her use of data from that simulation to contribute to understanding on how faculty of political science may better engage students through open educational resources.

Over the past four years, Kalaf-Hughes, in collaboration with a colleague, has developed an innovative, co-taught simulation to help students to understand the interplay between national and local issues in congress, and the relationships between members of congress and executive branch officials.  By examining two policy issues—immigration and transportation financing— in a two-course, co-taught module, the pedagogic model aims to improve upon the shortcomings of single-case simulations and traditional lectures, more effectively building knowledge, skills, and interest in American politics.

To improve the simulation and better understand its role in student engagement, Kalaf-Hughes and her colleague analyzed student responses to anonymous surveys about their experience.  Their insights are described in the pedagogic article “Working Together: An Empirical Analysis of a Multiclass Legislative-Executive Branch Simulation,” published in the Journal of Political Science Education.  Their research adds to a body of knowledge that aims to understand when and how simulations and other open educational resources may improve engagement with material, which has important implications for student engagement and retention.  Following up on these findings, Kalaf-Hughes conducted further research on this pedagogic topic.  In 2018 she presented her research at the APSA Centennial Center Workshop on Teaching American Government and more recently she was invited to revise and resubmit an article focused on reaching students with low interest in American Government courses.

Finally, in addition to these teaching innovations and pedagogic research activities, Kalaf-Hughes has contributed to her students’ academic experience by launching the Undergraduate Political Science Association, advising the Pi Sigma Alpha National Political Science Honor Society, and serving on thesis advising, scholarship, and dissertation award committees.

Kalaf-Hughes is clearly “an extremely talented and dedicated teacher” and it is unsurprising that in 2016 she won the Sigma Alpha Pi Teaching Award.  We are excited to add to her accolades the 2019 CQ Press Award for Teaching Innovation.