Torrey Shineman

Courses Offered:

University of Pittsburgh, Department of Political Science:

Graduate Level:
    Undergraduate Level:
      • American Politics Capstone: Experimental Research in Political Science (Spring 2017)
      • Public Opinion and Political Attitudes (Fall 2013; Fall 2015; Spring 2016)
      • Electoral Behavior and the Democratic Process (Spring 2014; Fall 2014; Fall 2015; Spring 2016)
      • Special Topics: Experimental Research in Political Science (Spring 2015)
      • American Politics Capstone: Participation and Electoral Behavior (Fall 2013)
    Instructor, ISM University of Management and Economics, Vilnius, Lithuania
    Teaching Assistant, New York University
    • Power and Politics in America, (with Professor Anna Harvey, Fall 2008; with Professor Patrick Egan, Spring 2009; with Professor Sanford Gordon, Spring 2012)
    • Introduction to Comparative Politics (with Professor Joshua Tucker, Fall 2010)

    Teaching Philosophy and Summary of Teaching Experience:
    I have significant experience teaching politics at the undergraduate level. I have taught a number of graduate and undergraduate level course at the University of Pittsburgh, since joining the faculty in Fall 2013. You can view the most recent syllabi for my current courses above. 

    At New York University, I worked as an adjunct instructor or teaching assistant for the undergraduate level course in Comparative Politics once, and the undergraduate level course in American Politics three times. These experiences greatly complimented my own background in each subject. Furthermore, working for four different professors exposed me to diverse pedagogical styles, enabling me to develop ideas on how I would like to structure my own course.
    During Spring 2011, I worked as an Instructor at the ISM University of Management and Economics in Vilnius, Lithuania, where I taught two courses: Comparative Politics and Comparative Political Behavior. In this role, I developed the syllabus for both classes, conducted all lectures and discussion sessions, wrote all quizzes and exams, and performed all matters of student grading and assessment. I wanted the classroom format to alternate between lectures and group discussions, but this was difficult with an average of 60 students in each section. I addressed this problem by dividing the class into groups of 4-5 students and assigning group discussion topics. I walked around the room to supervise discussions, and randomly selected different groups to present their results each day.
    I received additional teacher training during the 2010 – 2011 academic year, when I was one of 25 graduate students to complete NYU’s Teaching and Learning certificate program, a competitive year-long seminar series including lectures and workshops about how to be an effective teacher. Units included reflective teaching practices, designing a syllabus, engaging different learning styles, classroom management, methods of assessment, instructional strategies, and engaging new technology in the classroom. The course also included a peer teaching partnership, where I exchanged feedback through in-class teaching observations with another graduate student.
    I think of teaching as the process of communicating and exchanging ideas, as well as motivating learning and innovative thought. The best teachers are those who not only teach students the substantive content of a given course, but also teach students how to think critically. I strive to do this in my own classes. I push students to think independently, to construct critiques of previous work, develop their own analysis, and to think creatively about how to address new research questions.
    I believe that effective communication is a critical part of being a good teacher, as well as a good member of academia in general. As an active participant in speech and debate competitions in college, I developed confidence as a public speaker, and improved my skills of presentation and delivery. This experience taught me to think quickly on my feet and to formulate my thoughts into persuasive verbal arguments. Within my first year of competition, I was a nationally competitive debater, ranking second in the nation during my fourth tournament. After graduating from college, I accepted a job as the coach of the Reed College debate team. In this role, I trained students in both debate and speech events, and I also served as a judge between contestants from other colleges when we traveled to tournaments. As a judge, I would decide and score each round, as well as provide a written “reason for decision” on each ballot, providing my analysis of the round, and constructive feedback to each student. My decisions and written opinions were well respected, and in my first year as a coach and judge, I was selected as one of nine judges nationwide to convene over the final round of the National Parliamentary Debate Association. This experience as a whole exposed me to diverse ideologies relating to government and philosophy, improved my ability to communicate my own arguments clearly and effectively, and also gave me significant experience in assessing other people’s arguments as well as providing feedback on how those arguments could be improved.
    I have been an active participant at dozens of conferences and several seminar series. I love having opportunities to present my own research, and enjoy the process of constructing a presentation that will most effectively communicate my research question, methods, and results. I present my own work often, have served as a discussant several times, and was also a participant in a roundtable discussion. I attend panels regularly, and enjoy learning about cutting edge research, brainstorming ideas, and providing feedback to other scholars. I strive to provide constructive feedback in a collegial way, and greatly appreciate the feedback I have received from other students and professors in the field. I have been a regular attendee at several seminar series at NYU, Princeton, and the University of Pittsburgh. I was a member of a graduate student group dedicated to work-shopping experimental research designs in progress, and founded a similar group at Princeton during my post-doc year, and again at Pitt as a faculty member. I have been both a presenter and a discussant at these workshop, as well as at other workshops dedicated to editing early drafts of advanced research papers.
    There is an art to providing constructive feedback, both as a teacher and as a colleague. The skills I have developed across all of these experiences have been complimentary, and collectively, these activities have improved my own research skills, as well as my ability to critically assess and effectively provide feedback regarding other people’s work.
    Beyond my experience in teaching political science, I have also taught special education through C.A.S.E. Collaborative in the Massachusetts public schools, taught English and Math to Elementary students at Dansoman Montessori School near the capital city of Ghana, and I designed and taught a unit on reproductive health education to adolescent females at public schools across villages in the Eastern Region of Ghana. The subject matter from these experiences is less related to my current research and career goals, but the skills I developed during these years greatly improved my ability to communicate diverse topics across diverse populations, as well as my ability to adapt to changing needs and boundaries relating to instructional content, varying resources, language barriers, age, and cultural sensitivity.