Political Science and International Relations

ENGL/ POSC/ COMM 467: Road to the Presidency
Interactive web site
Joe Pika

Ralph Begleiter
December 11, 2000

Joe Pika and Ralph Begleiter

Road to the Presidency

Joe Pika, political science, and Ralph Begleiter, communication, are team-teaching a course entitled “The Road to the Presidency.”

They decided that teaching a course about presidential politics in an election year offered a terrific opportunity for their students.

“We wanted the students to begin their analysis of events by actively monitoring a major campaign,” Pika said.

So on Super Tuesday, Pika and Begleiter had the class meet as if they were a working national newsroom.

They’ve also incorporated student involvement into the entire semester.

They worked with staff in the PRESENT to add interactive components to their class web page.

Students use a fill-in-the-blank web form to submit annotations for, and links to, web sites as part of a series of “watches” on advertising, political conventions, the media’s coverage of the campaign, polling and campaign-related web sites.

“We have the students ‘bird-dogging’ several different areas,” Begleiter said, “so it’s not just the two of us searching for relevant material. The students have broadened the search for information.”

“We use the material the students post to prompt class discussions, and some students are browsing the entire archive, not just the one ‘watch’ they’ve been assigned,” Begleiter said.

“In some sense,” said Pika, “we’ve shifted more of the learning burden on to the students—the newsroom, the ‘watches’ and the supplemental material.” “The course has been a great experiment. “It has been a team effort, combining our academic goals and the skills of the staff in the PRESENT to develop and polish the technology we used.

“We think we’ve exposed students to things to which they’d otherwise not be exposed,” Begleiter said.

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"We think we’ve exposed students to things to which they’d otherwise not be exposed to."

—Ralph Begleiter