Lesson Study in Introduction to International Relations

Lesson Study in Introduction to International Relations

By Lindsay Burta, Muhlenberg College and Audie Klotz, Syracuse University

Graduate teaching assistants (GTAs) who run independent sections for larger lecture courses typically receive insufficient feedback. Course evaluations, already flawed by numerous biases, offer an amalgam of student reactions to lecture and section, even when comments specifically laud or criticize section instructors. Course designs also vary greatly: some professors meet regularly with their team of GTAs; others delegate to a lead GTA; and many simply let their GTAs do anything that gets students talking. Instead, we advocate a team-oriented approach, Lesson Study, which provides pedagogical training that emphasizes assignment design and delivery, rather than personal characteristics or teaching style.

The Lesson Study model brackets variation in interpersonal dynamics across discussion sections by providing common content that concentrates on specific analytical skills in each assignment, while leveraging the expertise of section instructors. Using common assignments, akin to science labs, facilitates GTA participation in design and evaluation. Meeting as a team both in advance of sections and afterward facilitates implementation of major pedagogical goals. This timely debriefing provides real-time insights into student learning.

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The Journal of Political Science Education is an intellectually rigorous, path-breaking, agenda-setting journal that publishes the highest quality scholarship on teaching and pedagogical issues in political science. The journal aims to represent the full range of questions, issues and approaches regarding political science education, including teaching-related issues, methods and techniques, learning/teaching activities and devices, educational assessment in political science, graduate education, and curriculum development.


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