Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations
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Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations

Edited by John Ishiyama, William J. Miller and Eszter Simon

With a focus on providing concrete teaching strategies for scholars, the Handbook on Teaching and Learning in Political Science and International Relations blends both theory and practice in an accessible and clear manner. In an effort to help faculty excel as classroom teachers, the expert contributors offer representation from various types of institutions located throughout the world. Split into three distinct parts, this book discusses curriculum and course design, teaching subject areas and in class teaching techniques.
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Chapter 34: Promoting course based writing in the discipline

Brian Smentkowski


All of us have heard a version of this story: a student submits a political science paper, seemingly confident that his or her ideas, arguments and conclusions are sound, but upon receipt of the graded work is upset to find a lower-than-expected grade and comments critical of the writing style. The distressed student argues that this is a political science class, not an English class; that the ideas should matter more than the method of expression; that he or she is a good writer and the instructor’s disagreement is a mere matter of stylistic opinion. What is the instructor’s response? It depends, but at the core it usually includes a defense of the principle that we all must become fluent—or at least highly proficient—in the language of the discipline and that there is a standard for professional communication. To this end, we commonly concede that some of the ideas might, in fact, be ‘good’, but that it is the author’s responsibility to convince the reader that this is the case. The reader should not have to work harder to see the point than the writer has to work to make the point.

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