- If someone in your family talks about clean eating, tell them there is no such thing. It's all a big marketing scam. (Okay, this one might turn into a fight. Sorry).
- Does someone in your family enjoy hunting and fishing? Bring up the conservation of public lands (listen to this podcast)
- Learn some fun facts to change the subject (just in case things get tense) from the database: What America Ate.
- Talk about Genetically Modified Foods, and why public opinion differs so drastically from scientific opinion on the subject. Should we label?
- If a relative starts droning on about dieting, remind them of the importance of intuitive eating and healthy food attitudes. Or, if they must talk about diet, tell them to talk about this one.
Since this is a political science blog, let's talk about politics and the holidays. The cliche is families that fight about politics over turkey. If you're not sure how politics will be received at home, take this quiz: Should you talk about politics over the holidays? Let me suggest, however, that instead of getting into a fight you might consider switching the topic to Food Politics! Need some ideas?
Finals are rapidly approaching, and crunch time is here. Take a deep breath, remember to have perspective (this is not life or death), and get ready to dive in to studying. For those students who feel desperately behind or overwhelmed, also bear in mind that you are not alone and the best thing to do is meet with your professor and make a plan. Having a plan will feel much better than avoidance.
Once you have a plan (or if you had one all along) then the next thing to think about is how to maximize your studying time. Effective studying will look different for every student, but here are some of the techniques that you might find useful. I recommend trying several, then narrowing down on just a few that you find most helpful.
Receiving and incorporating feedback is something that is challenging for even the most seasoned of writers.
Feedback can often feel like someone is telling you that you aren't good enough, that your work or writing isn't valuable, and that perhaps you as a human aren't sufficient. That feeling is a lie! That is not what feedback is about.
Feedback, when given in the spirit of constructive helpfulness, is about improvement. Your teachers, fellow students, and eventual coworkers and bosses, all want you to be your best self and produce your best work. They (hopefully) want to build you up, not tear you down. So let's talk about how to use feedback. To start with, the writing center at UNC has this helpful guide to getting, understanding, and effectively using feedback on your writing.
So knowing that feedback isn't about being mean, and it IS about helping you reach full potential, what are some ways to make feedback work for you?
It's nearing the end of the fall semester and many of you will be asked to fill out evaluations of your professors and their classes. Unfortunately, most of your professors can't (or won't) bribe you to do this. And in fact, there is bountiful evidence that student evaluations are poor measures of student learning and professor effectiveness. Nonetheless, it's important to most of your professors that you complete them since these evaluations are used in tenure and promotion decisions. Given that, I'd like to say a few words about them.
First, please offer constructive comments! Here are two examples of what that might look like (taken from past course evaluations for my public policy course):
On the other hand, vague comments are not very helpful. For example:
Second, try to consider the language you use and what biases might be at work. Ask yourself if you have fair and realistic expectations from your professors, or if there are some expectations may have been operating unconsciously and influencing your perceptions of the class. Try to write your evaluations based on the course itself, not based on your feelings about the professor's attitude or likability - doing this will also help ensure that you are writing constructive comments.
Your professors care about what you think and how their courses worked for you. Above all else, they care that you learn. So please take these evaluations seriously! Tell your professors (in a constructive way) if there are ways that they can help you learn more effectively or make the course work better for you. And tell them what you liked, what they shouldn't change, and what you'd want to see again!
Clare Brock is a professor of American Politics and Public Policy at TWU. She works primarily in the areas of food policy, lobbying, and money in politics.