Teaching is an important part of scholarly life and often the most effective way for scholars to connect with interested students and share information about the topic they care deeply about. I have experience both teaching my own classes and assisting in the instruction of a variety of courses taught both traditionally and online. In addition to my work as an instuctor and teaching assistant I have also created the instructor’s manual for a college-level textbook on the United States Congress.
Instructor of Record
In Fall 2019 I taught an Introduction to American Politics course to about 100 students. In designing the course, I explicitly placed the historical development of the United States political system at its heart, starting with the first African slaves brought to the colonies through the most recent developments in our political institutions such as centralized leadership in Congress and the Imperial Presidency. I am a firm believer in the idea that history can tell us much about our current political situation. While I am certainly not a historian or even an APD scholar, I personally find history to be critical to my own understanding of politics within the United States and around the world.
In addition to my lectures I also regularly assigned outside readings from the popular press that students discussed in small groups. These articles were meant to stimulate discussion around big ideas in American politics today or forced students to debate two sides of a contested issue. For example, one week students wrestled with whether or not the United States Senate should even exist; another week they debated the role of federal regulations in protecting or harming Americans and their impact on the economy. At all times I strive to present an objective view of politics. As someone with a longstanding interest in American politics, I know it to be true that most people want to make up their own minds. Presenting students with diverse perspectives and facts will help them shape their own opinions and take ownership over different ideas about what it means to be a citizen in the United States today. Ideally, these developments will also push them to become more civically engaged too.
Overall, I received a course evaluation of 4.4/5.0. Many students remarked that they felt they genuinely learned something new about American politics from my course even though they did not care for politics and many were impressed by my commitment to neutrality. While research tends to be what drives our discipline, at the end of the day I like to talk about politics with those who are interested. Not only is it of interest to me, but it is absolutely critical for the proper functioning of American democratic institutions. Teaching is a crucial component of our jobs as academics and one that I take very seriously and enjoy immensely. This course’s syllabus is available by email request.
Teaching Materials Prepared
Theriault, Sean M. and Mickey Edwards. 2019. Congress: The First Branch. New York: Oxford University Press.
Prepared instructor’s manual including the following for each chapter of ten chapters:
– 80 questions (multiple choice, short answer, and essay)
– Lecture slides
– Class activities and lecture suggestions
– Supporting online materials
Head Teaching Assistant
From Fall 2016 through Spring 2018 I served as the Head Teaching Assistant for the University of Texas’ online Introduction to American Government course. This course tends to have an enrollment around 1000 students per semester, which requires a robust team of Teaching Assistants. In leading that team I coordinated between the faculty instuctors, the teaching assistants, and the production managers who helped deliver the class online to undergraduates. My duties included designing test materials, occasionally lecturing in the absence of an instructor, and a lot of logistical coordination. In some ways this job was more like being a project manager than a traditional teaching assistant. Despite this, and most importantly, it provided me with a unique perspective of what a large-scale online-only course looked like behind-the-scenes and what was feasible for instruction and evaluation in those settings.
For four semesters I served as a regular teaching assistant for in-person classes. Two of those appointments were for Introduction to American Government. These classes involved grading exams, occasional lecturing, and leading review sections. I also served as a TA for two more specialized classes: Congressional Elections and the Politics of Health. Each provided a useful perspective on how to deliver more specialized material to smaller classes. Overall, I learned a lot about the norms of teaching from serving under the many devoted faculty members at The University of Texas at Austin.