Synergy within and between Students, Professors and the University

I have enjoyed working in higher education for six years (3 at a Community College, 3 at WSU). Since I am a researcher every work day, I prefer R1 Universities or another institution which pays me to research American political development, the presidency, congress, campaigns, republicanism

If I were employed, and attending a committee meeting regarding “best practices” for teaching graduate students–I should have something to say. In fact, I expect cohorts to look my way, since I have a Master of Arts in Teaching. Here’s what I’d promote.

First, Professors should reveal their “best practices for new political scientists.” To do so,

  1. teach the math and qualitative / quantitative approaches that you are capable of understanding for the first 15 minutes every class throughout the semester. After all, they are supposed to stand on your shoulders in their dissertations.
  2. readings should supplement step (1) when possible. Weekly readings rotate 2oth century research (i.e., the canons) with 21st century research–according to class topic.
  3. 10 minutes before class ends, ask students to write down a “hypothesis” based on the “political science” discussed in lecture. Meaning, tell students to “relate the knowledge constructions in the lecture to something you would enjoy researching.” Encourage a little laughter…
  4.  5 minutes before class ends, ask students to share “hypothesis.” If you get a lot of hands, let them read them all at once. Afterwards, rapidly respond how you would research each hypothesis in turn. The discussion will walk out the door.

Second, Academia (I.e., the University) should promote diversity. Imagine you get a new job at a R1 University (any field). Don’t you expect the department to have “a database with a thousand hypothesis and research designs”!? This could happen many ways. Here are a few, with the caveat that the creator does not expect anyone to participate:

  1. ideas include: giving students the opportunity to post their weekly “hypothesis” on a departmental Blackboard site to enable the opportunity for a response. This completes the goal. The point would be enable collaboration to create a journal paper–or simply to promote understanding of the material. Students and Professors are never required to do so. This satisfies requirements of republicanism. In point, the department would need about 10% of faculty on board to make it work. It would be a department blackboard site, or if they’re progressive–blog.
  2. Master Professors at research institutions enable their students in any given semester to turn in a research agenda, and evidence of that agenda. Give students the option of uploading their hypothesis and research agenda, etc., into the department database.
  3. Master researchers are usually prolific and explosive and they will create many hypothesis that they will not have time to investigate. This energy should be given the opportunity to be effectively and efficiently captured by the University and the department. In both, the creator of the hypothesis would be cited in all future publications.
  4. the University should accept papers from students which meet the Professors “collaborative” threshold at the end of the semester, but not the threshold of a professional journal. Meaning, the student got an A, not an OMG!
  5. The University should help students succeed by publishing one student paper online (I.e., public website with published papers for free download). Think of it as advertising, or corporate responsibility, or building an academic community… Again, the University enables the development for this opportunity, but it is not mandatory for any given student.

That’s what I think, anyway. Best of luck on no matter what you decide. With freedom rides responsibility.

As for my 6 pence, just sayin’, IRB would get a lot bigger.

My point is that republicanism is designed to make associations and institutions flourish (like my previous points). I seriously doubt the same is true when operating under liberalism. The costs, in the beginning–because academics are incentivized to participate in the program and not mandated, will be substantial. On the other hand, you could be holding money for the students too. Meaning, the University incentivizes students to publish one paper a year, which has been approved by a Professor. However, par excellence, this is the best advertising–if not the purpose of the R1 Institution.


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