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Short Author Bio(s)

Carolyn S. Carlson is an assistant professor of communication at Kennesaw State University. She teaches reporting classes and media law. She researches on reporting practices and First Amendment issues. She is adviser to the Society of Professional Journalists chapter and is a past national president of SPJ. She has a Ph.D. and master's degree from Georgia State University and an ABJ from the University of Georgia. Professionally, she worked 24 years as a reporter, including 18 years at the Associated Press.

Joshua N. Azriel is an associate professor of communication at Kennesaw State University. He is the Journalism and Citizen Media director for the Department of Communication and teaches reporting classes and media law. He is a faculty member in the department's Master of Arts in Integrated Global Communication program. He teaches seminars in global communication and media technology. His research interest is on First Amendment issues related to the Internet, specifically social media. He has a Ph.D. and master's degree from the University of Florida and a bachelor's degree from Kalamazoo College.

Jeff DeWitt is an associate professor of political science at Kennesaw State University. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science from Georgia State University in 2005. His primary field of study is American political behavior with research interests in electoral politics, political communication, and public opinion. DeWitt is coordinator for certificate programs in political communication and professional politics and teaches courses in American Government, Mass Media and Politics, Research Methods, and Senior Seminar and is a member of KSU's Honors faculty.

Kerwin Swint is the interim chair of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at Kennesaw State University. He is a full professor of political science, specializing in campaigns and elections, mass media, and political history. He is the author of four books, including the recently released The King Whisperers: Power Behind the Throne from Rasputin to Rove. He was the recipient of the College of HSS Distinguished Professor Award in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a Ph.D. from Georgia State University.

Abstract

Scholarship in teaching and learning demonstrates how academic understanding may be best achieved, and values of civic engagement best inculcated, when class materials are delivered within a experiential context. The goal for instructors, therefore, is to develop pedagogic techniques and teaching platforms that enhance learning by doing by directly engaging students with educational content. Courses that focus on American political processes provide especially fruitful opportunities for such applied learning experiences. In this paper, we discuss and assess experiential learning as facilitated in a pair of undergraduate courses taught at a southern state university that focused on the study of American politics at national party conventions. As a primary requirement in “Political Party Conventions Field Study” and “Reporting at the Party Conventions,” political science and communication students, and four supervising faculty, traveled to the 2012 Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention where they produced political research using field observation and survey methodologies and professional-style news reporting. Survey data collected before and after the convention indicate that students engaged in such experiential learning projects develop a more substantive understanding of the subject matter under study, enhanced motivation for learning, and greater feelings of academic achievement and citizenship.

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