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UTSA political science students watch presidential debates, analyze candidate responses

debate viewing
debate viewing

Presidential debate viewing Oct. 3 at UTSA Main Campus
(Photos by Kris Rodriguez)

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(Oct. 16, 2012) -- Students filled the Main Building auditoriums on the UTSA Main Campus Oct. 3 to watch the first presidential debate and Oct. 11 for the vice presidential debate. Hosted by the UTSA Department of Political Science and Geography, Student Government Association and SA Votes 2012 members, there also will be presidential debate viewings from 7:30 to 10 p.m., Oct. 16 and 22 in the Main Building Auditoriums (0.106 and 0.104). Free and open to the public, the goal of the events is to encourage student participation in the political process.

"It was awesome to see students involved in political affairs," said Daniel Khalil, UTSA senior political science and anthropology major, at the Oct. 3 viewing. "This event showed that students are interested in the political process with all their cheering and responses during the debate."

As a class assignment, UTSA political science professors Jeff Harmon and Henry Esparza encouraged their students to express their opinions during the debate through the use of an interactive application survey. The virtual lab gauged viewer reactions during the debate as each speaker covered a topic. Questions appeared on screens as subjects arose during the live debate to see if the viewer liked or disliked a candidate's response.

"We gave students some data analysis tools in class on determining who the average voter is," said Harmon. "We then wanted the students to observe the debate and figure out which audience the candidate is trying to appeal to."

For many students, it was the first time they had watched an electoral debate.

"Coming to a debate watch is a lot cooler than having to learn about polling trends on your own with just a textbook," said Nathan Olivares, UTSA sophomore small business and entrepreneurship major. "We had to learn about polling research and determine for ourselves if they are reliable resources in predicting who gets elected for presidency."

POL 1013 (Introduction to American Politics) is one of the 15 courses under the Quantitative Literacy Program (QLP), which aims to help students develop their quantitative reasoning skills by increasing contextual learning and advancing student knowledge of data analysis.

"Harmon's class is always politically charging," said Alejandro Mayor, a sophomore business management major. "I try to keep myself more informed on current affairs so I'm prepared to participate in class and throw in my opinions."

Harmon's and Esparza's students learn to look at data and understand the demographic factors that underlie a range of political variables including partisanship, ideology and turnout.

"We had the students look at the survey data and determine where the trends were going to go," Harmon said. "Now, they'll go back to see if these debates matter in the polling trends. Will these debates change the opinions of the voters or not?"

 

 

Events

Thursday, May 5, 5 p.m.

String Project Spring Concert

This end-of-semester concert will feature the 3rd through 8th grade students who have participated in the UTSA String Project this year. The event is free and open to the public.
Buena Vista Theater, Downtown Campus

Friday, May 6, 8 p.m.

First Friday Stargazing

The UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, Curtis Vaughan Observatory invites everyone to join them for their monthly stargazing event on top of the Flawn Science Building.
Curtis Vaughan Observatory, Main Campus

Sunday, May 8, 1 p.m.

Accordions Across Culture

May’s Free Second Sunday at the UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures features "Accordions Across Cultures," with performances of Mexican, German and Czech accordion music, a documentary screening and crafts for the kids.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

Monday, May 9, 8 a.m.

The Honeynet Project Workshop

This three-day event will focus on the tools, tactics and motives involved in computer and network attacks. Attendees from around the world will take part in world-class hands-on trainings and technical discussions.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Thursday, May 12, 4 p.m.

Master of Public Administration Open House

Visit with faculty, alumni and students to discuss the benefits of and requirements for a Master Degree in Public Administration and/or the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Administration & Leadership.
Meeting Assembly Room (BVB 1.338), Downtown Campus

Saturday, May 14, 10 a.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony One

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Sciences.
Alamodome

Saturday, May 14, 4 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Two

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Business, the College of Public Policy and University College.
Alamodome

Sunday, May 15, 2 p.m.

UTSA Spring Commencement: Ceremony Three

UTSA Spring Commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts.
Alamodome

Wednesday, May 18, 3 p.m.

The Great Staff Appreciation Event

The UTSA community is invited to honor the roughly 2,600 UTSA staff members who contribute to the success of the university and its students.
H-E-B University Center Ballroom, Main Campus

Thursday, May 19, 6 p.m.

Superintendent Certification Program Information Session

Join UTSA faculty and staff, current students, and area central office administrators/program alumni to learn about this exciting accelerated and web-enhanced program leading to Texas Superintendent Certification. The event is free and open to the public.
BVB 1.322, Downtown Campus


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