At Southwestern, I teach a range of classes on American politics and political behavior, introducing students to substantive theories of political science as well as quantitative methodology through hands-on development of research projects. In the 2017-2018 academic year, my courses include the introductory American Politics class, Mass Media and American Politics and Public Opinion in American Democracy (Fact or Fantasy?). I also teach courses on political psychology and race and ethnicity in American politics. The students in my Mass Media and American Politics course keep a blog--check it out!
Reflecting on the strengths of my first solo-taught course, one of my students commented that “This course was one of the few politics courses at UVA that I left feeling like I was challenged to critique…studies in a way that not only strengthened my critical thinking skills, but also made me interested in continuing my education/contribution to political science research.” He or she also added that the course “equipped me with some basic skills that would be applicable to working on a real campaign or with a consulting firm.” In two sentences, this student captured my primary goals in developing any political science course—to develop transferable skills that students can apply to graduate research or a career in public service, encourage critical thinking about the claims made by research, and better understand the nuance of American governmental institutions and processes.
Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness
“I can do data analysis now!”
“The open class discussion and class-involved quasi-experiments with media were very interesting and fun and made class discussion feel easy to join and get opinions out.”
“This was one of my favorite poli sci classes I have taken at SU. It was engaging, interesting, and very pertinent to current events.”
“I was able to conduct research and present my findings outside of class with Dr. Sydnor. This experience was so fantastic; I learned not only how to survey and analyze data but to create and present an academic poster. I really enjoy working with Dr. Sydnor because she is genuinely engaged with her students. Her teaching style is perfect for our small school and she really makes an effort to know all students personally.”