High Impact Practices

Research has shown that certain practices in undergraduate education have particularly high impact on student learning. These include: study abroad, community engagement, and undergraduate research, among others.  The Department of Political Science is engaged in a number of these “High Impact Practices” to support student learning in ways that are memorable, meaningful, and fun.  

Collaborative Learning

Dr. Margaret Hrezo used team-based learning in her POSC 439: Civil Liberties class.  Groups worked in teams to do legal research and analysis centered on freedom of religion and expression, privacy, civil rights, and the rights of the criminally accused.  The goal was to assist them in learning how to develop well-reasoned arguments concerning the “big questions” posed by the case law in this area, to see patterns among case decisions, and to reach decisions based on legal principles rather than pure opinion.

Diversity/Global Learing

The Department has appointed a study abroad advisor, Dr. Paige Tan, to encourage students to include study abroad as part of their undergraduate study at Radford.  Dr. Tan will be presenting on study abroad to all majors (via the POSC 231 and POSC 241 courses required for majors) and answering questions on why study abroad is desirable and how to make study abroad affordable. For more information visit the International Education Center. Dr. Tan also teaches Model United Nations. The department has supported the creation of a student club and a new class in which students simulate the experience of an international diplomatic conference, representing different countries and trying to solve thorny international problems. Model United Nations develops skills in leadership, negotiation, public speaking, and networking as well as building knowledge and interest in international affairs. In 2014 and 2015, Dr. Tan secured Scholar Citizen initiative grants to enable students to travel to other universities to participate in inter-collegiate Model United Nations competitions.

Dr. Tay Keong Tan’s INST 101 students engage in simulation exercise designed to bring the world back from the brink of collapse. Read a student-penned article on the simulation. (see the full story here)


The department is putting new emphasis on internships. Each year, several students complete internships, often in local, state, or national governmental institutions.  We aim to increase this number to 10-20 per year in five years.  See the internship page on the “Do More” section of our website for information on internship availability and procedures.

Service Learning, Community Engaged Learning

Political Science collaborates closely with the Scholar-Citizen Initiative to promote community engagement by students. As with all high impact teaching practices, community engaged learning delivers students one-of-a-kind learning experiences.  Three POSC classes have been designated Scholar Citizen courses in recognition of their socially engaged teaching methods.  Dr. Tanya Corbin’s Disaster Politics course (Fall 2014) saw students consult with the city of Radford on the town’s emergency preparedness.  In Dr. Tay Keong Tan’s POSC 300 Public Administration course (Fall 2015), students consulted with two community organizations, the Galax Volunteer Fire Department and the Radford-Fair Lawn Daily Bread, to solve real-world management challenges the organizations were facing.  Dr. Paige Tan’s POSC 351: Model United Nations has also been recognized as a SCI course. In Model United Nations, students travel to a conference and negotiate as diplomats in order to solve global problems.  Read more about Dr. Corbin’s Disaster Politics class in Radford’s university newspaper, The Tartan.  Dr. Paige Tan, the department chair, serves on the Scholar-Citizen Initiative’s guiding body, the university-wide Scholar Citizen Steering Committee.  

Undergraduate Research

Faculty continue to mentor a number of students each year to develop their independent research and present at professional conferences. These conferences include Radford’s own undergraduate student research showcase as well as regional and national conferences for college students.  In spring 2014, two political science majors presented the papers they had developed in their Senior Seminar at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research in Lexington, Kentucky. For more information visit the Undergraduate Research and Scholarship office or website.


Many POSC classes use simulations to put students into the shoes of diplomats or decision makers. Dr. Tanya Corbin’s POSC 320 Congress class simulates the process of getting a bill through the legislature.  Dr. Paige Tan’s international relations classes simulate international diplomacy, often putting students in the shoes of United Nations or European Union diplomats.  Dr. Tay Keong Tan’s INST 101 students engage in simulation exercise designed to bring the world back from the brink of collapse. Read a student-penned article on the simulation (see the full story here). In Fall 2015, Dr. Tay Keong Tan's INST 101 class held and inclass debate over the use of Drones (see the student article here)