Yale Center for Teaching and Learning

Political Science

Political science pedagogical literature explores a variety of topics, like active learning incorporation of service learning, gender bias in political science student evaluations, and the intersection of race and gender with political science course material.

Journals and Websites

Articles and Papers

Martin LL. (2016). Gender, Teaching Evaluations, and Professional Success in Political Science. PS: Political Science & Politics 49(2), 313-319.

Abstract Excerpt: “This article examines publicly available data from two large political science departments and finds that female instructors receive substantively and significantly lower ratings than male instructors in large courses. The author discusses the implications of apparent gender bias in teaching evaluations for the professional success of female faculty. Findings of gender bias in evaluations in other fields also hold in political science and are particularly problematic in the evaluation of large courses.”

Archer, C., & Miller, M. (2011). Prioritizing Active Learning: An Exploration of Gateway Courses in Political Science. PS: Political Science and Politics, 44(2), 429-434.

Abstract Excerpt: “This study assesses the prioritization of active learning in ‘gateway’ political science courses, paying specific attention to simulations, structured debates, and the case method. Nearly five hundred individual course syllabi for introductory-level political science courses are examined. Although the level of active learning prioritization is surprisingly low, the dimensions on which it varies suggest opportunities for adoption across subfields and classes of varying size.”

Kantola J. (2008). ‘Why Do All the Women Disappear?’ Gendering Processes in a Political Science Department. Gender, Work and Organization 15(2), 202.

Abstract Excerpt: “The article provides an in-depth analysis of the gendering processes among PhD candidates in a political science department. It uses Joan Acker’s theory of gendered organizations operating through four dimensions: the gendered division of labour, gendered interaction, gendered symbols and gendered interpretations of one’s position in the organization. The article combines this approach with theories of hidden discrimination. The key theoretical aim is to contribute to gendered organizational theory by examining the ways in which hidden discrimination and the gendered organization work together.”

Sampaio, A. (2006). Women of Color Teaching Political Science: Examining the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Course Material in the Classroom. PS: Political Science and Politics, 39(4), 917-922.

Excerpt (Page 1): “In this article, I explore some of these obstacles encountered by women of color as teachers in the university. In particular, I highlight the challenges women of color in the classroom face at the unique intersections of race, gender, course content, and pedagogy. I also examine some of the obstacles presented by procedural norms, namely the use of standardized teaching evaluations and their applicability in evaluating racialized and gendered classrooms. I conclude with recommendations for negotiating these obstacles.”

Butler, D., & Christensen, R. (2003). Mixing and Matching: The Effect on Student Performance of Teaching Assistants of the Same Gender. PS: Political Science and Politics, 36(4), 781-786.

Excerpt (Page 1): “We find evidence to support claims that the content of political science courses, specifically statistics, may create barriers for women. We also find support for the claim that women teaching assistants effectively motivate women students. Surprisingly, however, we find that the gender match between a teaching assistant and a student appears largely irrelevant for student performance. Women seem to be more motivated to complete a course when their teaching assistant is a woman, but we find no consistent evidence that women perform better on course assignments when they are taught by a woman.”

Hepburn, M., Niemi, R., & Chapman, C. (2000). Service Learning in College Political Science: Queries and Commentary. PS: Political Science and Politics, 33(3), 617-622.

Excerpt (Page 617-18): “Community service is widely advocated as a method for advancing civic awareness and citizen responsibility in both secondary schools and colleges. […] Research indicates that the most effective service learning programs are those that: 1) have well-articulated goals related to the course content; 2) are of long enough duration for students to develop communication and working relationships with people in the agencies where they volunteer and to feel some proprietorship for the projects they work on, and; 3) provide ample opportunities for extensive reflection on the community experience and public policy so that it relates to accompanying political science course work. Based on these requisites, we will examine studies of service learning that have implications for political science teaching and research.”

McCarthy JP and Anderson L. (2000). Active Learning Techniques Versus Traditional Teaching Styles: Two Experiments from History and Political Science. Innovative Higher Education 24(4), 279-294.

Abstract Excerpt: “This article reports the results of two experiments that compared the effectiveness of role-playing and collaborative activities to teacher-centered discussions and lectures. Using both history and political science classes, we show that the students who participated in the role-plays and collaborative exercises did better on subsequent standard evaluations than their traditionally instructed peers. Presented here is a discussion of active learning, descriptions of the two experiments, and an explanation of the outcomes and implications of the study.”