What students need to know and do
The key goal is excellence in written and oral communication. Students need to be able to write and speak clearly and in a way that is sensitive to the subtleties of the context.
What are the student barriers to learning?
Australian university students in the Humanities and Social Sciences are often less articulate in oral presentations than in writing. A particular difficulty can arise when students think that they must write and speak about politics as if they were a politician. This can result in a great deal of rhetorical flourish without much substance.
Our teaching strategies
Academics need to give students opportunities to develop both their oral and written communications skills. One approach to developing professional writing skills might be through a policy writing simulation. The active integration of theory and targeted writing exercises provides students with a better understanding of the theory of negotiation processes, as well as the professional skills associated with policy making (Trueb, 2013). Another such strategy emphasises structured classroom debates (SCDs) in which students are forced to actively apply political concepts (Oros, 2007).
Oros, A.L. (2007). Let’s debate: Active learning encourages student participation and critical thinking. Journal of Political Science Education, 3(3), 293-311. DOI: 10.1080/15512160701558273
Trueb, B. (2013). Teaching students to write for ‘real life’: Policy paper writing in the classroom. PS: Political Science and Politics, 46(1), 137-141.