Professor's Policy Stance

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rjh456
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Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:15 am

Professor's Policy Stance

Postby rjh456 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:33 am

I'm reading the policy czars chapter in GTM and they bring up whether it's a good thing to disagree with your professor's stance on a policy issue in an exam. Ex, you're prof is an advocate for the poor and powerless (tenants) and you feel as if those in some kind of power (landlords) get taken advantage of with a particular rule.

Being professors, the authors of course argue that if you can construct a well thought out argument that isn't superficial and absolute then you should argue your own opinions. Is this actually true in practice though? Or should you always argue a line of reasoning that doesn't clash with the professor's? I'm sure it depends a lot on who the professor is, but I was just wondering if there was any collective wisdom about this...

theskyisred
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Re: Professor's Policy Stance

Postby theskyisred » Wed Jun 08, 2011 12:28 pm

In lieu of longer responses you will probably receive, some simple advice that you already acknowledged is to just feel out the professor in class.

One successful method in my case was to just try and mimic the professor's presentation of a policy issue on the exam. Usually, they will lecture their policy stance first and then the opposing argument second. Staying consistent with the general rule that one should always present their strongest arguments first, just do it in the same order. If the professor has made their allegiance to a particular policy stance obvious, they probably feel that side has the stronger argument - so argue it first. Simply follow-up with the opposing argument, which will - at least in their eyes - be the weaker argument.

EDIT: To more specifically answer your question, I think it is wise to both regurgitate and oppose a professor's policy stance on an exam. If you can correctly articulate a professor's policy stance on an exam, then the opposing argument should almost naturally "flow" from that explanation.

rjh456
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Re: Professor's Policy Stance

Postby rjh456 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 2:59 pm

Thanks a lot for your post! I'm making a note of this.

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kswiss
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Re: Professor's Policy Stance

Postby kswiss » Thu Jun 09, 2011 12:14 am

One of my profs admits to teeing up a potential policy argument that is completely against what his views are, just to see if people are principled. For the most part, though, treat policy arguments the same as others: argue both sides.

Also, remember that policy is gravy. For most issue spotter kinds of questions, I leave policy until the very end after i've id'd the issue, rule and argued both sides. Most of the points are in the application; don't miss out on easy points just because you can deliver the rationale for the rule. Policy arguments are really good when there are multiple rules that you might apply, because you can get extra points by providing the policy rationales behind both rules.

For actual policy exam questions like "suggest legislation for [xxx], and support your position with relevant [xxx]," argue all sides (there are likely more than 2). And sure, go ahead and let the prof know that you understand his position, but most profs will get sick of hearing their own arguments spit back and them, so will probably award points for good counter analysis.

illinin
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Re: Professor's Policy Stance

Postby illinin » Thu Jun 09, 2011 8:57 am

rjh456 wrote:Being professors, the authors of course argue that if you can construct a well thought out argument that isn't superficial and absolute then you should argue your own opinions. Is this actually true in practice though? Or should you always argue a line of reasoning that doesn't clash with the professor's? I'm sure it depends a lot on who the professor is, but I was just wondering if there was any collective wisdom about this...


The problem is constructing something your professors will recognize as "a line of reasoning" when they spend their time outside class publishing articles about how all alternate perspectives are irrational and misguided. :wink:

Snarking aside, my profs handled dissenters pretty well. My best grades this year came from exams where I rehashed their points while flat-out disagreeing. If you're determined to argue your own perspective, my advice is to outline the arguments on all sides and experiment with structuring answers that use your prof's ideas as a main counterargument long before exam day.

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Doritos
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Re: Professor's Policy Stance

Postby Doritos » Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:25 pm

argue both sides. if asked to take a stance in the prompt side with the professor. worked out well for me.




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