November 2010

Geoffrey Peterson Recognized by Colleagues

By: Ellen Zamarripa

Dr. GGeoffrey Petersoneoffrey Peterson, professor of Political Science is honored and recognized by his colleagues for his ability to engage students in material with a sense of humor, and for his technological innovations in the classroom.
As one of the first educators at UW-Eau Claire to incorporate the use of clickers in the classroom, Peterson says an interactive educational setting encourages students to get involved and allows him to alter the content of his lecture based on how effectively students are learning the information. 
"The problem with big lecture classes is that it's really easy for it to turn into a note taking exercise," Peterson said. "So it's about finding ways to engage them in some critical thought and participation."  
Peterson teaches a number of Political Science classes, but his largest class is Introduction to American Government which is made up of about 250 students. For the last five years, Peterson has utilized a student response system called "Just in Time Teaching" which includes clickers as a teaching tool. Clicker results allow Peterson to adjust the content of the course depending on how students respond to the initial information taught via lecture. 
Dr. Rodd Freitag, Associate professor and chair of the department of Political Science, said Peterson has approached the use of clickers in the classroom in a scholarly way. Freitag said he admires Peterson for trying something new in an attempt to encourage student contribution in large lecture classes.  
When it comes to Peterson's teaching methods, Peterson said he makes an effort to engage students in a way that is not heavy-handed while still maintaining control. He said students say they feel like they are learning the material, but that his courses do not feel like work.  
"I think that's important because if you're engaged with the material, it shouldn't feel like work," Peterson said. "It should be fun, you should want to learn, and to me, that's what itGeoffrey teaching's all about."  
Peterson presented at the Midwest Political Science Association conference on the use of clickers in the social sciences, and he currently has an article under review by the Journal of Political Science Education entitled `To Click or Not To Click: The Impact of Student Response Systems In An Introductory Political Science Course.'  
Peterson continues to explore the benefits of clickers in the classroom and he serves as a leader in terms of the implementation of technology in curriculum on the UW-Eau Claire campus. Professor of Political Science, Stephen Hill said Peterson is a gifted teacher and an innovator when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom.    
"Geoffrey continues to strive to improve his own teaching effectiveness through the use of technology and to disseminate his experiences to the wider academic community," Hill said. "I believe this dedication should be recognized by our own teaching community."

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