EKU instructor, Kerem Ozan Kalkan believes in the equalizing power of an online education and taking an active part in his student’s educational journey. He goes above and beyond to ensure his online students have opportunities to interact and engage with him. Kalkan’s enthusiasm for his field and personal attention to his students makes him a particular point of pride on EKU’s campuses, both in-person and virtual. We take great pride in offering the chance to get to know him a little better.
What brought you to EKU?
The opportunity to teach courses in a variety of topics was one of my main reasons for coming to EKU. These courses include comparative politics, religion and politics, public administration, and the capstone course. The religion and politics course is certainly a favorite class, and the capstone course always provides a great experience. Additionally, I liked EKU’s attendance of first-generation college students. College education has the biggest impact on first-generation students, and EKU provides an excellent opportunity to work with these students and see them succeed.
Tell us a little about your work in your field.
My work is largely behavioral research focusing on public opinion. Specifically, I look at inter-group attitudes, attitudes towards Muslims, and anti-Black prejudice, among others. My interests include analyzing these attitudes within the United States and throughout the world. Beyond behavioral research, I also conduct advanced quantitative research on measurement.
What moment at EKU stands out as most memorable?
The most memorable moment at EKU for me is to see first-generation college students achieving so much and becoming very successful in a variety of organizations in the public sector, private sector, and nonprofit organizations. After students graduate, they move into different organizations and up into new positions. Getting emails from students who have taken my courses describing the benefit of these courses and the success they are experiencing in their organizations makes my day.
What is your approach to online teaching?
The purpose of online teaching to me is to be equalizing. In other words, it opens up a lot of opportunities and doors for non-traditional students who may not have been able to attend otherwise. I believe both online and in-person class settings seem to be about the same in terms of student performance and achievement in the courses. Online teaching simply offers students who may not have been able to attend in-person classes a way to earn their degree.
What tactics or approaches do you use to aid in your student’s success?
The central theme of my approach to ensuring students’ success includes availability and responsiveness. I make myself available for students to meet with whenever they have any questions or concerns. If a student contacts me, I immediately respond to follow up with any questions they may have. Students know they can easily talk to me, and this is a key aspect of their success. My tactics and teaching style for general education courses typically includes lecturing, in upper-level courses I adopt more of a dialogue and seminar style approach to the course. This question-and-answer approach is very valuable for students.
What do you believe are the biggest advantages to online learning?
The biggest advantage of online learning is that it equalizes the field by opening the possibility of a college education to all potential students. The biggest disadvantage often pointed to for online learning is the lack of one-on-one interaction among students and between students and their professors. At EKU this disadvantage is minimized through how the courses are designed. This includes the use of discussion boards and Zoom meetings that provide these critical interactions experienced with in-person settings.
What have you been up to lately? (Research, projects, awards, etc.)
I have been working on a number of different projects, including work with other faculty members. For example, with Dr. Cizmar, I am doing research on abortion attitudes. With Dr. Swain, I am working on a measurement proposal for explicit racial prejudice. My other work includes research on Turkish politics, specifically electoral politics in Turkey. Outside of research, I attend panels and conferences—virtually and in-person—most recently the Midwest Political Science Association Conference. I also attend professional development workshops focusing on pedagogy.
What advice would you give to someone who’s considering finishing their degree, or starting for the first time as an adult?
The best advice I can give for these students is to start really strong. Strong is a very broad word, but each student will know what this means in their unique circumstances. In other words, you know what is strong for you. This may mean the development of a finely tuned study structure or staying ahead of your work. Regardless, you should know what works and what doesn’t work for you and implement this going to your degree. This is advice I give to students in any degree program. If your first class is POL 101, how you perform in this will set the tone for the rest of your education. Once this tone is set, it will be very hard—not impossible—to reverse. Some people may start out unmotivated, but the other way around is much easier. These bad performances in the beginning can be difficult to turn around. Starting your first semester strong is essential for your success in the rest of your degree program.
The programs at EKU are very strong. Program offerings serve people across the nation and even people outside of the U.S. If an in-person degree at EKU is not possible for you, the students in the Department of Government programs seem to do just as well in online settings.
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