This project aimed to trial the first two of a series of engaging podcasts and active learning approaches to assist students to ‘catch up’ on history outside of class and free up class time for more collaborative active learning activities.

  • Course: POLS2409 International Relations of the 20th Century (2nd year cornerstone course, approx. 250 students) 
  • School/Faculty: School of Political Science and International Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Delivery: weekly, 2-hour face-to-face lecture session and 1-hour tutorial session, with guest lecturers from other schools
  • Active learning approach: development and use of the first in a series of podcasts to assist pre-class learning, and targeted in-class discussion, as well as a series of in-class active and collaborative learning via both large class and small group targeted discussion and analysis. 

Key issues and anticipated outcomes

This project aimed to address the following issues and outcomes:

  • Student evaluations have revealed that students struggle with historical concepts, and wish they knew more or had a better grounding.
  • Students often do not arrive to university with enough basic historical knowledge, which means that time in lectures must be spent going through history in some depth.  
  • A key skill in international relations is developing theoretical analysis on the basis of empirical knowledge – this is an area in which many students struggle.
  • It was anticipated that a series of engaging podcasts would:
    • assist students with empirical knowledge of relevant historical events
    • ‘model’ how theory can be used to explain historical material, thus improving academic literacy
    • allow students to ‘catch up’ on history outside class and free up class time for more collaborative active learning, some of which use the podcasts as triggers for targeted discussion.
    • help students to better prepare for their 2nd year and build their confidence.

Project innovation team