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Teaching Political Science: Accomplishments and Challenges.

These are exciting times for those interested in the pedagogy of political science. The Political Science Education section of the American Political Science Association has established a new academic journal and annual conference, both devoted to the scholarship of teaching and learning in political science. Furthermore, there has been an appreciable increase in interest and awareness among political science instructors regarding teaching techniques, curricular development, and pedagogical innovation in general.

Indeed, this special issue of Academic Exchange Quarterly is a testament to the depth and breadth of work being done in political science education. The articles in this issue address both macro- and micro-issues of political science pedagogy. Murphy and Reidy explore the signature pedagogy of political science in comparative perspective, while White, Malik and Chrastil examine International Studies as an emerging interdisciplinary major. Hamann, Pollock and Wilson empirically analyze the effectiveness of on-line learning in political science, while Gordon and Gillespie utilize a survey to demonstrate that extracurricular activities such as Mock Trial can benefit students' learning outcomes. Wilkerson and Fruland describe a promising Web-based virtual legislative simulation, and Wheeler discusses the potentials and pitfalls of using simulations and role-playing exercises. Engstrom demonstrates how the standard American government class can benefit from international and comparative examples, and Brown and Paul discuss their success in improving their teaching in a course on interest groups by assigning and discussing a highly satiric novel.

The rigorous and thoughtful articles in this issue demonstrate the health of the subfield of political science pedagogy. Nonetheless, several brief suggestions directed to the field as a whole may be in order. First, I would suggest that scholars of political science pedagogy would benefit from a greater awareness of general research in higher education. Too often, scholars tend to read only those journals and newsletters from their particular discipline. While this tendency is certainly efficient for most scholarly work, it is less profitable for the scholarship of teaching and learning. Pedagogical research often transcends disciplines, and political scientists may be overlooking important debates and advancements regarding educational practice by reading only disciplinary journals. Thus, political scientists (and other scholars, of course) can benefit by reading general education journals, including Academic Exchange Quarterly, and incorporating those insights into teaching practices and scholarly work.

Related to the above, I hope that political scientists will continue to submit pedagogical articles to general educational research journals, so that the fruits of this research are not always limited to the political science community. Political scientists can bring a unique perspective to educational research-one that is informed by awareness of political and institutional dynamics as well as sophisticated methodological analysis. The articles in this issue demonstrate the unique contributions that political scientists can make to the educational community.

Dr. David L. Weiden

Assistant Professor, Department of Politics and Government

Illinois State University
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Title Annotation:Editorial
Author:Weiden, David L.
Publication:Academic Exchange Quarterly
Date:Dec 22, 2006
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