Teaching Political Science in the Wake of COVID-19

The below is a research update from one of APSA’s Centennial Center Research Grant recipients. We are currently accepting applications for research grants. Learn more at the bottom of this post.

Teaching Political Science in the Wake of COVID-19

by Rebecca A. Glazier, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, School of Public Affairs

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our daily lives—from how we work, to whether we travel, to the way we teach and learn. Students and professors have experienced this shift first-hand as many colleges and universities have moved classes partially or fully online since the pandemic first began in March, 2020. But once this is all over, will political science teaching go back to the way it was before the pandemic? Dr. Rebecca A. Glazier, an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, thinks some changes might be long-lasting.

Dr. Glazier has been awarded an APSA Small Research Grant from the Centennial Center for her project, “Online Teaching in Political Science in the Wake of COVID-19.” Glazier is an expert on online teaching and learning. She has been teaching and researching in the field for nearly 12 years, has published six peer-reviewed articles on the topic, and is publishing a book this fall with Johns Hopkins University Press: “Connecting in the Online Classroom: Building Rapport between Teachers and Students.” Together with Dr. Cherie Strachan, a professor of political science at Central Michigan University, Glazier will survey and interview faculty who have been teaching during the pandemic to evaluate the extent to which their teaching practices have changed and whether faculty expect these changes to persist.

“We think that teaching students through a traumatic pandemic—while experiencing it ourselves—may lead to more compassionate grading and late work policies…”

The sudden pivot to emergency remote teaching, together with the immense pressures the pandemic placed on both faculty and students, may influence political science teaching in both the short and long term. Working with the American Political Science Association, the Political Science Education Section leadership, and other leaders in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Glazier and Strachan have placed a number of questions about teaching on the APSA annual member survey. “We expect that the experience of emergency remote teaching will certainly impact how faculty feel about teaching online,” Glazier said. “Especially for those faculty who never previously taught an online class, being suddenly thrown into the medium, with maybe a week prepare, is unlikely to leave faculty feeling positively about it.”

Beyond attitudes towards online teaching, the survey and interviews will also ask about policies and potential adjustments faculty have made. “We think that teaching students through a traumatic pandemic—while experiencing it ourselves—may lead to more compassionate grading and late work policies,” Glazier notes. “Because the research indicates that these kinds of policies can have a significant positive impact on student success and retention, it may be the case that faculty see that impact during the pandemic and decide to maintain those policies post-pandemic. The discipline may find itself with more compassionate and trauma-informed courses as a result.”

Additionally, because the news became so personal during the pandemic, as people felt the effects in their own lives, it is possible that faculty brought current events into their teaching more often, as well, which is another teaching aspect the research will measure. Finally, Glazier and Strachan are also interested in how different identities—as women, caregivers, people of color, and so on—affect the way faculty respond to online teaching during a pandemic.

The APSA member survey, in which this research survey will be embedded, will be distributed to all APSA members beginning in March 2021. By responding, members will be supporting this research and helping the researchers learn more about how political science teaching is changing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Glazier plans to use the research funds to conduct in-person interviews as safety allows and to produce data visuals from the results to distribute publicly to fellow political scientists and the broader higher education community.

For more information on the research, contact Dr. Rebecca Glazier at raglazier@ualr.edu, on Twitter @rebeccaglazier, or visit her website at rebeccaglazier.net.

We are now accepting applications for APSA 2021 Spring Centennial Center Research grants. Previously called Small Research Grants, these grants are available to contingent faculty and to faculty in political science departments that do not grant PhDs, including community college faculty. Grants are available to support research on all topics in political science, and in amounts up to $2500. The next deadline is April 15, 2021. Learn more and apply here!

In order to provide additional support to our members during the ongoing public health crisis, this year the Centennial Center is making research grants more flexible by expanding the categories of costs eligible for funding. Eligible costs now include: 1) Research costs associated with interviews and surveys, access to archives, and more 2) Salary support for PIs 3) Salary support for research assistants 4) Per diems regardless of location 5) Research software and hardware, including devices necessary for scholars with disabilities to conduct their research. We recognize that APSA members may have needs not included in the above list. If you have a cost that is not listed here, please contact us at centennial@apsanet.org.