College of Liberal Arts

New Open Enrollment Online American Government Course Transforms Traditional Lectures into Broadcast News Discussions

AUSTIN, Texas – This spring, UT Austin’s American Government course (GOV 310L) has been converted from a traditional lecture hall to an online news broadcast format, featuring guest lectures and breaking news commentary from Government Professors Eric McDaniel and Daron Shaw. The online course is available to the public through University Extension (UEX).

The newsroom-style discussions cover current political issues, featuring a lineup of guest speakers – from political analysts to White House advisors. Special guests include Rob Moser, UT Austin government professor; Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune; and Karl Rove, GOP strategist and former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush. Go to this website to view a video clip.

The material is organized into 14 weekly lessons that incorporate the professors’ recently recorded lectures. Each lesson contains a statement of lesson objectives, reading assignments, lecture videos, supplementary multimedia, self-assessment exercises and opportunities for feedback from the instructors. The virtual lectures can be watched anywhere with an Internet connection at the students’ convenience.

Using the newly developed TOWER teaching model, the class sessions begin with a 10-minute online benchmark quizzes, which are immediately followed with immediate results. In a recent study, UT Austin psychology professors Samuel Gosling and James Pennebaker found the instant results on incorrectly answered questions help students remember and learn from their mistakes.

“One important self-regulatory method to improve preparation and performance is to give students frequent testing along with rapid, targeted and structured feedback on their performance, so that they can adjust their learning and studying strategies in time to improve their grades in a course,” says Pennebaker, who team-teaches another online TOWER course, Psychology 301, with Gosling.

UEX courses, including this online section of GOV 310L, do not require admission to UT Austin. The course, which is a requirement for all Texas college students, will provide transferable credit, and the grades will appear on an official university transcript. 

Deadline for registration is Jan. 29. Go to this website to register.

For more information, contact: Jessica Sinn, Office of Public Affairs, College of Liberal Arts, 512-471-2404,; Emily Cicchini, Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Services,, 512-820-4712