I loved my political science undergrad, and I also love my current masters program. Here’s one thing I see as a problem though: professors like to talk at the students. They had a Power Point presentation with basically all of the answers, they presented all of their answers, asked the students a few redundant questions that they really already knew the answers to, and then test the students on this material. Sometimes the students are too smart and point out mistakes in the Power Points. For instance, in a discussion of Coase’s Theorem one day in my economics class, my professor gave us an example of a confectioner emitting negative externality (noise) on a nearby doctor’s office. The doctor and confectioner used Coase’s Theorem to resolve the issue. The professor had quantified the costs and benefits to each, but the results he had in the Power Point were incorrect. So the students corrected him. It was kind of embarrassing. Surely, this kind of mistake wouldn’t matter if the student and professor were learning together?
I had two professors in my undergrad who taught in a style that I especially appreciated: they expected us to read a whole lot for each class, they provided a framework for the discussion, but then expected the students to contribute–and I mean, really contribute. We thought deep and hard and used textual examples, and if an idea was especially insightful, you knew it. The professor would think deep and hard about it and then pontificate himself. It was great. We almost felt like equals to our professors. A friend of mine who did a stint in a political science PhD program put it this way: the professors in the program expected you to have original thoughts; they expected you to be colleagues-in-training. That’s how I felt in my undergrad classes, and that is how I wish I felt more often in my masters classes.