Closing the Loop

Closing the Loop
The Department of Political Science is now in the process of making a major change
in the delivery of one of its major core classes, American Public Policy POLS 2302.
Starting Fall 2013, at least 80 percent of students taking the class at Texas Tech will
take the class online. We have contracted with Cengage, a well-established publisher
of college textbooks and provider of online courses, to implement the course using
the latest techniques and educational research. The Department has taken the
opportunity to design the course around the new objectives for the core curriculum
mandated by the THECB. This means this class will be a year ahead of the required
adoption of the new core. In addition, individual faculty members report using
student evaluations as the basis for course improvements. Faculty have made such
changes as moving from reliance on powerpoint slides to posing broad, stimulating
questions that generate more class involvement. In addition, faculty has adjusted
reading lists, assignments, and in-class activities. Instructors have adopted active
learning techniques, including simulations, debates, and role-playing exercises.
Instructors have made classes more relevant to students’ immediate needs as
graduate students and in regard to career preparation. In addition, writing
assignments have been expanded to encourage critical thinking. Blackboard is
increasingly employed to provide students with lecture notes, readings, and
additional materials for interested students. Student feedback, whether positive or
negative, is essential to making judgments regarding which experiments in new
teaching methods to retain and which to drop.
These comments are in regard to the previous couple of years of teaching