|(Upcoming) Seminar on the political psychology of direct democratic voting: „(In)kompetente BürgerInnen? Die politische Psychologie direktdemokratischer Abstimmungen“||Instructor||Spring 2017||Master Level Seminar|
|Advanced Lecture (“Vertiefung”) in Swiss Politics by Silja Häusermann||Teaching Assistance||Spring / Fall 2016, Spring 2017||Undergraduate Level Lecture|
|Block seminar “Ideologien, Emotionen oder Argumente – Wie entscheiden Schweizer Stimmbürger/innen?“
|Instructor||Spring 2013, 2014, 2015||Undergraduate Level Seminar|
|Advanced Lecture („Vertiefung“) in Comparative Politics by Hanspeter Kriesi||Teaching Assistance||Spring / Fall 2012||Undergraduate Level Lecture|
I have teaching experience and I enjoy discussing the latest research advances with students. While my PhD program at the European University Institute did not involve teaching, I had the opportunity to teach a block seminar for undergraduates at the University of Zurich during the three years of my PhD. In this seminar, I combined theories from political psychology with empirical research on Swiss politics. To do so I mainly employed interactive teaching methods, where the students are stimulated to apply theoretical arguments in discussing both, empirical studies and current political events. In addition, I served as a teaching assistant in large undergraduate courses in Comparative Politics with Hanspeter Kriesi and, since January 2016 in Swiss Politics with Silja Häusermann. These courses allowed me to gain experience in working with students in small seminar groups as well as in big lectures. In 2013, I participated in a semester-long teaching skills training at the European University Institute, led by Sven Steinmo. The training involved theoretical readings in pedagogy and the presentation of innovative teaching techniques (examples are buzzers and classroom quizzes, the Socratic method, designing presentations with Prezi, organizing classroom debates), as well as video-recorded training lectures with feedback.
In my own teaching I aim at creating an environment in which all students feel at ease to present their ideas, ask questions, and discuss theories and concepts with each other. I am convinced that an open-minded and stimulating atmosphere fosters learning and creativity. I use interactive teaching methods because I want to involve students also beyond reading texts and discussing them in class – ideally, students should get a chance to develop a capacity for critical scientific thinking and to generate their own research ideas. In seminars, I usually switched between inputs of 20 minutes approximately and interactive exercises. Such exercises are for example buzz groups, classroom debates (for example, a debate on the question whether party cues help or hurt citizens’ democratic decisions), and group exercises (for example, I asked students to develop a measurement tool to measure voter’s values based on their readings). To give another example of interactive teaching, in my block seminar I integrated a classroom experiment on party cues versus policy arguments, where students were surprised to find out that they tend to be strongly influenced by party labels when expressing political opinions.
Apart from creating a stimulating classroom environment and actively involving students, one very important point is to sharpen students’ understanding of logical and scientific thinking. In my view, identifying interesting research questions, conceptualizing and measuring concepts, data collection and availability, data analysis, as well as thoughtful and critical interpretation of findings are essential steps in an empirical research process, for which students need to develop a basic understanding. When discussing readings and empirical studies, I try to train students in recognizing how different studies implement these different steps – what is the question? which theories are used? what are the central concepts? how are they measured? In my experience, these questions which may sound obvious to an experienced researcher, are often very difficult to answer, in particular for undergraduate students, and I hope that this process helps them develop their own research ideas.