Leanne C. Powner

Curriculum Vita

Publications, Papers, and Research

Teaching and Course Materials
Teaching Portfolio

Summer Academic Working Group

External Links



Online Teaching Portfolio


Welcome to my online teaching portfolio. This reflective portfolio presents my teaching philosophy, experience, and goals, and gives a fuller picture of my interests, skills, and approaches in the classroom than any single document or item alone can show. I encourage you to explore the materials below. Many documents contain links (underlined) to other portions of the site or to off-site links; to navigate back to the portfolio, use the "Back" button on your browser.


Seeing is Believing, but Doing is Learning.


Table of Contents

Teaching Responsibilities

Philosophy of Education/Reflective Teaching Statement

Instructional Practices

Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

Professional Development and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

--Publications and presentations on teaching and learning
--Course materials, including draft syllabi



Teaching Responsibilities

AY 2009-2010: American University, School of International Service
SIS 206, Introduction to International Relations Research Methods. 1 section each term. Undergraduate course, broad scope. Syllabus    Paper Assignment    SPARE Assignments
SIS 600, Quantitative Analysis in International Affairs. 2 sections each term. MA-level course, quantitative tools through regression. Syllabus   Paper Assignment   Problem Set 1
SIS 600.x, Advanced Quantitative Analysis in International Affairs. Probable small-group seminar Spring 2009, PhD and MA students.

AY 2008-2009: Visiting Assistant Professor, College of Wooster
PSCI 120, Introduction to International Relations. Syllabus
PSCI 222, Problems of the Global Community. 'Hot Topics' class where students voted on topics. Syllabus Sample Unit
PSCI 229, International Cooperation, Organization, and Integration. Syllabus
PSCI 400, Game Theory and Strategic Interaction. Syllabus
PSCI 451/452, Senior Independent Study. Two-term senior thesis sequence required of all students. 

University of Michigan: Graduate Student Instructor. 9 terms, 3 courses (2002-2007)
PS 160, Introduction to World Politics, 7 terms TAing total; 4 as Lead TA. With Jim Morrow and Doug Lemke.
PS 343, Political Economy of Developed Democracies. 1 term, Upper-Level Writing GSI. With Rob Franzese
PS 140, Introduction to Comparative Politics, 1 term as sole instructor/instructor of record. As one might expect from a first independent course, I learned a number of things and have made extensive changes to the syllabus and course organization since then. A new draft syllabus for this course, and several others, are in Appendix 2 below.


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Instructional Practices and Classroom Activities

Seeing may be believing, but doing is learning. I usually summarize that using the Nike slogan ("Just do it."). That and the Home Depot slogan ("You can do it. We can help.") summarize my philosophy of teaching, learning, and advising. My classes do a lot of things. The initial arrangement of desks rarely survives a full class period. Whether they're forming small groups to discuss and report out on a homework assignment, making teams for review jeopardy, or joining their classmate "allies" in a war, my students interact with - and learn from - each other as much as they learn from me. We simulate the Munich crisis, vote under different sets of electoral rules, try different strategies for "winning" in the Prisoner's Dilemma, and practice content analysis on song lyrics. The range of classroom activities and instructional practices activates all student learning styles, and it helps students to experience the ideas and concepts rather than just "learn" them.

Furthermore, I regularly integrate skill-building activities with content-development activities. For example, when my introduction to world politics classes discuss inequality between and within countries, we do "ocular analysis" (i.e., eyeball the data) of Gini curves over time to develop both basic skills in interpreting data as well as an understanding of how different national development strategies affect income distribution. Armed with a large collection of library books, my introduction to comparative politics class researched and compared single-party-government countries and military governments. They shared research tips and shortcuts ("Use the index!" being the most frequent, followed by "Is there a chapter about it in this book?" and "Who did the textbook cite?") and familiarized themselves with the range of source types available in a university research library. Small groups make graphic organizers to get the idea of a literature review. I hope to continue this effort in the future by integrating information literacy objectives into assignments, collaborating with the library staff, and by incorporating more student work with data (probably through group activities on student laptops) into my introductory courses.


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Evidence of Teaching Effectiveness

My teaching, advising, and mentoring experience is quite diverse, and so evidence of effectiveness is also quite varied. My classroom activities and assignments drew the attention of editors at CQ Press, and a number have been adopted into the student workbook, Applying the Strategic Perspective (3rd ed, 2005; 4th ed, 2009), and others appear on the textbook's website. Reviewer feedback has been quite positive, and CQ Press has approached me about working on the next edition. Other resources, such as Reading and Understanding Political Science and the ever-popular Crash Course in Statistics, have been widely adopted within the UM community and elsewhere.

In the 2006-07 academic year, I was a general academic advisor in the LSA Honors Program, and a concentration academic advisor for the Department of Political Science; my selection to both of these roles is testimony to my good relations with students. I also have extensive experience mentoring individual students on longer-term research and career development matters. For most schools, a letter from a former student is included in my placement file.

Please see the Summary of Teaching Evaluations for quantitative data and student comments for courses taught and Honors advising, and for textbook reviewer comments. A set of sample evaluations from PSCI 229 at the College of Wooster is also available. "Unpacking Voter Participation: The Effect of Issue Salience on Voter Turnout in the US," is a major empirical paper written by a senior student under my guidance, for submission to Rob Franzese. The student located and learned to use published (NES) data, including experiencing the joys of cleaning and recoding data, and then conducted a quantitative test of original hypotheses that she developed herself. My role in the process was to guide her in thinking about how to construct hypotheses and identify their empirical implications, and advising in the choice of appropriate testing strategies and data resources. I also provided guidance in the format and structure of empirical papers. I am very pleased with the final result. The paper is used with the student's permission.


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Professional Development and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

I come from a family of educators, and I am committed to continued professional development as an educator. My participation in the American Political Science Association's 2006 Teaching and Learning Conference was valuable in this regard, as was the 2007 Preparing Future Faculty May Seminar hosted by University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning and Teaching. I continue to work with the Active Learning in International Affairs Section (ALIAS) of the International Studies Association to develop a website for professional resource sharing. I firmly feel that reinventing the wheel should be firmly discouraged in pedagogy and that innovations in teaching methods should be published and publicized as widely as we disseminate innovations in research methods. To that end, I am committed to continuing to formalize and share my lesson and activity plans and my classroom resources. Location permitting, I hope to have the opportunity to share my experiences as an instructor in a non-R1 environment with future graduate students through campus visits, panel participation, or in-person or distance mentoring. I benefited enormously from contact with non-R1 faculty in my process of deciding what kind of future I wanted, and I want to provide others with the same opportunity I had.

My current interests center on the role of assessment in teaching and learning, both at the departmental level but also at the individual student, activity, course, and program levels. I have already made an initial foray into this arena in my  work with Michelle Allendoerfer, which examines the effect of a pair of active learning interventions on student knowledge levels. More broadly, I am interested in studying both qualitative and quantitative means of assessment at the four levels of student, activity, course, and program, and also in studying the use of these methods among instructors and administrators. Assessment is about determining if something works or achieves an intended goal; in our context, this means student learning. What do education professionals in the K-12 environment know about assessment that we can use for our own purposes? How can we formalize ongoing, rapid, classroom-based assessment to incorporate its findings into our assessments of student performance in a way that is still time- and resource-efficient? How can technology enhance our ability to assess student learning? Who is using what forms of assessment, and to what ends? How can we encourage greater faculty understanding, use, and practice of ongoing assessment?


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Appendix 1: Publications and Presentations on Pedagogy

"The Source of Student Gains from Peer Review." (Upcoming) International Studies Association Annual Meeting (February 2009); Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting (April 2008).

Leanne C. Powner and Michelle G. Allendoerfer, �Evaluating Hypotheses About Active Learning,� International Studies Perspectives, forthcoming (Feb 2008).

 �Teaching the Scientific Method in the Active Learning Classroom.� PS: Political Science and Politics 34, 3 (July 2006): 521-524.

A Comparative Review of Comparative Politics Textbooks.� Journal of Political Science Education 2, 2 (July 2006): 235-239.

Leanne C. Powner, Applying the Strategic Perspective: Problems and Models. 4th ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2009.

Leanne C. Powner and D. Scott Bennett, Applying the Strategic Perspective: Problems and Models. 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2005.

Principles of International Politics: Student Support Website.�  Textbook ancillary. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2005. Additional materials including Power Point slides for all chapters and other material on instructor CD-ROM.

Mixed Strategies Without Mixups.� Paper/presentation coauthored with Michelle G. Allendoerfer and Hyeran Jo. Part of the Active Learning Interactive Demonstration Session, International Studies Association meeting, Chicago, IL, March 2007.

�Interactive Teaching of Key Social Scientific Concepts and Tools.� Teaching and Learning Conference, American Political Science Association, Washington, DC, 18-20 February 2006.

�I�m Busy Teaching, But is Anybody Learning? Teaching Tips for International Studies.� Roundtable participant. International Studies Association � Midwest, St. Louis, MO, 21-22 October 2005.

 �Making Formal Models Freshman-Friendly.� International Studies Association convention, Honolulu, HI, 1-5 March 2005, with Sarah E. Croco.


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Appendix 2: Draft Course Syllabi

Course numbering is consistent with the University of Michigan system, with a few bits of American University's inserted where no parallel UM number exists (e.g., 205). Please note: These are draft syllabi for courses which have never been taught -- even PS 140, which I have taught independently before, has been totally overhauled and bears no resemblance to its prior incarnation. Any feedback is appreciated, including suggestions for readings. Some reading lists are not complete. Draft syllabi will be uploaded as time permits. A "#" indicates a course that I've actually taught, for which a complete syllabus is available.

Comparative Politics World Politics/International Relations Research Methods Interdisciplinary/
Introduction to Comparative Politics (PS 140) # Introduction to International Relations (PSCI 120)    
Patterns and Processes in Comparative Politics (PS 240) Patterns and Processes in World Politics (PS 260)

# Problems of the Global Community (PSCI 222)

# Intro to International Relations Research Methods (SIS 206)  
Politics and Policies of the European Union (PS 358) US Foreign Policy (PS 374)

# International Cooperation, Organization, and Integration (PSCI 229)

    # Game Theory & Strategic Interaction (PSCI 400)  
    # Quantitative Analysis [MA-level] (SIS 600)  
Other Interests:*
West European Politics; European Defense and Security Affairs
Other Interests:*
Grand Theory in World Politics; Comparative Foreign Policy
Other Interests:*
Intermediate Research Design; Supervising student-developed research projects
Other Interests:*
Politics, Economics, Technology, and History: The Rise of Modern Europe, 1000 - 1650

* Courses in the "Other Interests" category are typically 300- or 400-level courses that I would be interested in teaching, but for which I have not yet developed complete syllabi. I probably have course objectives and a rough topics list if you're really curious, but they won't be complete. Please email for details.


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American University - School of International Service - 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington DC 20018-8071
Site designed and maintained by Leanne Powner,
LPowner@umich.edu. Last updated 15 September 2009.