Political Science Efficacy

Struggling to Engage Students with Traditional Classroom Tools

Today’s community college student is often faced with a difficult decision when deciding how to allocate their time and resources while focusing on work and family or school. Few understand this as well as Danielle Bachan, an instructor at Houston Community College, who teaches busy students about Texas politics and government. Bachan is tasked with inspiring students to learn about issues, agencies, and processes they otherwise might not explore or learn about on their own. Bachan finds her students also have heightened expectations when it comes to technology and how it’s used in the classroom. Increasingly, they expect to Read More…


MindTap in Action Gets Students to Read—and Learn—About American Government

Joshua “Josh” Dyck has taught American Government at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell (UMass Lowell) since 2012. When he arrived at the institution after teaching at the University at Buffalo SUNY, he used a traditional textbook with no online component. His involvement in an advisory group that reviewed MindTap® led him to try the digital learning experience.

Students adapted easily to the MindTap environment, and so did Josh. He immediately saw a number of benefits. He noticed that students came to class prepared after completing readings and auto-graded assignments… allowing him to use lectures to go “beyond the book.” Students were also empowered to take control of their learning: they can work at their own pace, review learning resources as much as they wish, and take quizzes more than once to improve their grade.
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An Ounce of Prevention: Assessment and Engagement Data and Early Identification of At-Risk Students

By Gregory C. Dixon, Department of Political Science and Planning, Thomas B. Murphy Center for Public Service, University of West Georgia.

Prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association, Teaching and Learning Conference, Washington D.C., January, 2015.

K-12 no longer prepares students for success at the university. This is most clearly seen at the first midterm when significant numbers of students fail. But what if we could find these students in the first two weeks of the course, before they fail that first exam? What if we could refer them to tutoring or other support services? Will this reduce the rates at which students receive a grade of D or F or Withdraw (DFW) in our introductory courses?
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MindTap Supports Course Customization and Sparks Engagement in Softside Disciplines

College instructors routinely report that engaging students in their coursework and promoting critical thinking are deep-rooted, ongoing challenges. Many instructors also say they spend a significant amount of time looking for custom content that will capture students’ interest and better align with their curriculum. An increasing number are evaluating—and using—digital products to help address these teaching issues, and there are good reasons for doing so. Today’s mobile, digitally savvy students bring to their college education the expectation for convenient, instant connectivity to information—including course materials. Digital solutions meet this demand, paving the way to improved engagement while streamlining instructors’ course preparation with multimedia resources and integration tools that support course customization.

Cengage Learning’s online digital teaching and learning solution, MindTap, has been shown to appeal to students and instructors alike. More importantly, it has demonstrated its ability to improve engagement and student performance in a variety of softside courses such as American government, criminal justice (CJ), and history. This white paper summarizes a research study as well as the individual experiences of instructors who have found MindTap to be an effective source of time-saving customization tools as well as features and content that promote better student outcomes.

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MindTap for Introduction to American Government

Rich Powell teaches at the University of Maine, and has used MindTap in his Introduction to American Government course for approximately a year, in conjunction with Janda et al.’s The Challenge of Democracy text. Rich teaches his Introduction to American Government course both in person and online. He appreciates that MindTap offers a seamless integration into the Blackboard Learning Management System. MindTap’s integration with Blackboard lessens his workload and adds to his efficiency, while giving students a better overall experience.

Rich has also found the content within MindTap helps engage his students in course concepts. The engaging content found in MindTap reinforces students’ understanding of concepts they learn in class while developing their critical thinking skills.

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Analytics in MindTap for American Government Help Lead to Earlier Student Intervention

Dr. Gregory Dixon is a Professor of Political Science at the University of West Georgia. Greg is currently using MindTap for American Government in his course. He was initially drawn to MindTap for its analytics functionality, which allows him to identify and intervene with at-risk students earlier in the term. However, he has also discovered that its multimedia resources and exercises engage students in a variety of ways, and that it also helps students see American Government in a more concrete sense.
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