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Course XVII discusses teaching

Course XVII discusses teaching

By Karen Kaplan

Members of the Department of Political Science gathered in the Millikan Room after the colloquium to continue the debate fostered at the larger session. Major themes of discussion included how to measure teaching quality, how to give it more weight, whether research and science could complement each other and whether research funding biased the types of courses offered here.

Both faculty members and students expressed concern that the quality of teaching was difficult to quantify. Some suggested that student input be incorporated into the tenure selection process, but others cautioned that professors who taught "easy" classes would get the best reviews, while tougher ones with more substance would go unappreciated.

Also, once reports about teaching ability were compiled, some were afraid that they would receive no more than a courtesy glance before attention was refocused on the candidate's research. One suggestion was to create tenured faculty positions for professors who would concentrate on teaching.

The political science faculty members in attendance agreed that research was an integral part of the teaching process. They said that research was necessary to understand the topics they taught, but that such research could create biases in their courses. In addition to research, "real-life" experiences, such as time spent working at a newspaper, were thought to contribute to teaching quality.