Political Science White Papers

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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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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