PS: Political Science & Politics

The Teacher

How Social Science Research Can Improve Teaching

Gary Kinga1 and Maya Sena2

a1 Harvard University

a2 University of Rochester


We marshal discoveries about human behavior and learning from social science research and show how these can be used to improve teaching and learning. The discoveries are easily stated as three social science generalizations: (1) social connections motivate, (2) teaching teaches the teacher, and (3) instant feedback improves learning. We show how to apply these generalizations via innovations in modern information technology inside, outside, and across university classrooms. We also give concrete examples of these ideas from innovations we have experimented with in our own teaching.

Gary King is the Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor and Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. His homepage is at, and he can be reached at

Maya Sen is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rochester. Her home page is at, and she can be reached at