Engaged Learning: The 2012 Election

By Daniel Brock

The SMU classroom experience can be a lot more than just a lecture or a powerpoint. Here at SMU, I have had the opportunity to build some of the most unique learning experiences I would never imagined when coming out of high school. My favorite class I ever took was a Communications class that followed the 2012 Presidential Election from the beginning of the Conventions to Election day, but what made this class unique was that we were automatically connected with internships with CNN during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. We even had the chance to help our professors conduct dial testing for CNN at the Presidential debates.

What was truly amazing was that I actually helped my professors conduct dial testing for the Vice Presidential debate. CNN even paid for my flight to Virginia during the debate. Dial testing are those “squiggly lines” at the bottom of the screen that CNN streams live.  They represent the immediate reaction of the undecided voters during the major debates and speeches.

I am not even a Communications major, but having that opportunity to travel for one of my classes was an unforgettable experience. As an Accounting major, I had a chance to open my eyes and build connections with a completely different world unfamiliar to me. My CNN supervisor even offered me an internship for the summer. I quickly learned after the Conventions that the communications world was not for me, but this class was a great way for me to discover what my passions truly are while building connections around the country.

My internship with CNN taught me just as much as the classroom potion of the class, but it allowed me to have first hand experience and it gave me a better understanding of the complex processes of a poltical campaign from the eyes of a professional. This class was unlike my accounting classes which includes a fair amount of number crunching and text book problems; instead we were reading recent books by nationally recognized writers and having political debates in the classroom. Some days, we even just watched and analyzed the ads published by the campaigns.

I came into to the class just trying to find a way to travel to the Republican Convention, but I left the class finally realizing how complicated politics truly are while beginning to understand arguments from each poltical party. In one semester, I traveled to a Presidential debate, the Republican Convention, received an internship offer, and stayed update-to-date one of the most historical presidential elections in our history.

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