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Engaging the Unengaged: Using Visual Images to Enhance the 'Poli Sci 101' Experience of Non-majors
Unformatted Document Text:  As expected, students performed very poorly on the knowledge quiz on the first day of class. Neither group was able to average even one point on the four point scale. Students in the control group averaged about 0.73 correct answers while the experimental group averaged about 0.45 (see Table 4). By the end of the semester, however, both groups had improved markedly. The control group was able to answer an average of 2.26 of the four questions correctly and the experimental group was able to answer 2.01 questions correctly. While both groups improved and the control group started and ended higher than the experimental group, it was the experimental group that gained more ground. The control group increased its knowledge by about 1.53 questions and the experimental group increased by about 1.57 questions. It thus appears that exposure to the visually enhanced lecture material resulted in slightly greater knowledge gain than exposure to the more traditional lecture format. SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION This project sought to answer the question of whether presentations of lecture material that are more visually appealing result in more positive assessments of the discipline of Political Science and heightened interest in and knowledge of politics and public affairs. It was hypothesized that students exposed to simple visual cues would express more positive assessments of the discipline of Political Science and exhibit higher levels of interest in and knowledge of politics and public affairs. Through an experimental design that exposed two different sections of the same introductory American government course to differing visual presentations, this project confirmed the expected results. Students exposed to enhanced visual images expressed more positive assessments of majoring and minoring in Political Science, more frequent political discussion, more interest in political campaigns, more trust in government, and more political knowledge than those exposed to more traditional lecture materials. Overall, the findings presented here suggest that, at least marginally, the use of simple visual images can engage typically unengaged students in a basic political science course. These findings hold promise for faculty members teaching typical general education classes in political science. Such faculty members often face the daunting task of engaging students in courses outside students’ primary domain of interest, often in large class settings. Students frequently come to 13

Authors: Ulbig, Stacy.
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background image
As expected, students performed very poorly on the knowledge quiz on the first day of class.
Neither group was able to average even one point on the four point scale. Students in the control group
averaged about 0.73 correct answers while the experimental group averaged about 0.45 (see Table 4). By
the end of the semester, however, both groups had improved markedly. The control group was able to
answer an average of 2.26 of the four questions correctly and the experimental group was able to answer
2.01 questions correctly. While both groups improved and the control group started and ended higher than
the experimental group, it was the experimental group that gained more ground. The control group
increased its knowledge by about 1.53 questions and the experimental group increased by about 1.57
questions. It thus appears that exposure to the visually enhanced lecture material resulted in slightly
greater knowledge gain than exposure to the more traditional lecture format.
SUMMARY AND DISCUSSION
This project sought to answer the question of whether presentations of lecture material that are
more visually appealing result in more positive assessments of the discipline of Political Science and
heightened interest in and knowledge of politics and public affairs. It was hypothesized that students
exposed to simple visual cues would express more positive assessments of the discipline of Political
Science and exhibit higher levels of interest in and knowledge of politics and public affairs. Through an
experimental design that exposed two different sections of the same introductory American government
course to differing visual presentations, this project confirmed the expected results. Students exposed to
enhanced visual images expressed more positive assessments of majoring and minoring in Political
Science, more frequent political discussion, more interest in political campaigns, more trust in
government, and more political knowledge than those exposed to more traditional lecture materials.
Overall, the findings presented here suggest that, at least marginally, the use of simple visual images can
engage typically unengaged students in a basic political science course.
These findings hold promise for faculty members teaching typical general education classes in
political science. Such faculty members often face the daunting task of engaging students in courses
outside students’ primary domain of interest, often in large class settings. Students frequently come to
13


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