Suzan Jane Harkness

University of the District of Columbia
College of Arts and Sciences

4200 Connecticut Avenue, N.W
Building 41/Suite 400-17
Washington, D.C.
20008 |  Visit Personal Website

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My research inquiry probes the intersections of political behavior, gender, ethnicity, politics and power, freedom of speech, and legislating. I also explore teaching and learning using technology, active-based pedagogy, and institutional effectiveness using data analysis and predictive modelling.

2015 Harkness, S. Suzan. “How a Historically Black College University (HBCU) Established a Sustainable Online Learning Program in Partnership with Quality Matters™,” The American Journal of Distance Education 29 (3):198-209.
Abstract: This case study describes an initiative approach to establishing online learning at a medium-size historically black college university. The study reveals the collaborative efforts between university administration and faculty, Quality MattersTM, and Blackboard. The strategic initiative spanned a period of five academic years (2010–2014) during which online learning grew incrementally and set the stage for fully online certificates and degree programs. The output of this initiative involved six hundred to seven hundred online learners each semester and twenty-six hundred students across five years and a 26% increase in the total number of online courses offered to students. Learner outcomes: 19.7% increase in A–D pass course grades, 66.6% reduction in failing F course grades, and 23.5% reduction in course withdrawal over a five-year period of tracking pre-/post-Quality Matters course-design interventions. The initiative’s success was due to its data-driven approach to evaluate early attempts at online education; perform gap analysis; assess technology use by faculty through an annual content analysis; implement robust professional development strategies to increase capacity; develop new policies, practices, and processes to support online education; develop and implement an approach to teaching certification; and establish strong partnerships to benchmark and support the online program.
DOI: 10.1080/08923647.2015.1057440
Harkness, S. Suzan, Victoria Dounoucos, and Logan Vidal. “Integrating Technology in the Classroom.” PS: Political Science & Politics (2012) 45 (3):521-540.
Abstract: This article is a synopsis of teaching and learning with technology in political science.
“Program Administration and Implementation of an Online Learning Initiative at a Historically Black College University.” In Myron Orleans (ed.). 2014. Cases on Critical and Qualitative Perspectives in Online Higher Education. Hershey PA: IGI Global.
Abstract: In the pages to follow, this case study will describe the organization, policy development, strategic initiatives, implementation, and assessment of establishing online learning initiatives at an urban land-grant historically black college university (HBCU). The chapter describes a collaborative effort by university administration and faculty to facilitate a strategically measured approach to online learning. In addition to institutional collaboration, this chapter discusses how an external partnership with Quality Matters provided structure and a best practices model. The chapter lays a blueprint for thought and action for establishing online learning at a small to medium size college or university. The case will describe a strategic approach that spanned a period of four years (2009-2013) whereby online learning grew incrementally in a measured fashion through a collaborative approach among faculty, administrators and external partners. The outcome provides a strong foundation upon which online learning may flourish, while at the same time describes complications of sustainability.
Stanton, Jeffrey, M. and S.Suzan J. Harkness. 2014. “Got MOOC? Labor Costs for the Development and Delivery of an Open Online Course.” In Medhi Khosrow-Pour (ed.). Information Resources Management Journal Special Issue on MOOCs: The Challenge of the Future. 27:14-26.
Abstract: Media reports concerning massive open online courses (MOOCs) have vacillated between talk of an educational revolution and disillusionment with an over-hyped instructional technology. This paper reports how a group of university faculty and staff designed and delivered a MOOC to more than 800 students. The delivery of the MOOC was a labor-intensive, costly process that resulted in a variety of educational and institutional outcomes. The case report contains lessons for other groups who may have an interest in delivering a MOOC. The paper concludes with an interpretation of the significance of MOOCs for higher education.
DOI: 10.4018/irmj.2014040102
Deksissa, Tolessa; Liang, Lily R.; Behera, Pradeep; and Harkness, Suzan J. 2014. "Fostering Significant Learning in Sciences." International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: 8 (2).
Abstract: The new global economy depends on workforce competencies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics more than ever before. To prepare a strong workforce, attracting and educating underrepresented minority students in science is a challenge within our traditional American educational approach. To meet this challenge, fostering significant learning in science that nurtures 21st Century skills in students is crucial. The purpose of this study was to analyze the effectiveness of a set of teaching and learning approaches that foster significant learning in sciences. Using a new introductory environmental science course in urban water quality management, the effect of a set of learner-centered teaching approaches, including hands-on learning, scientific inquiry, frequent feedback, and critical thinking exercises, was analyzed. The results of the pre- and post-course survey questions together with formative and summative assessments showed that our students’ cognitive learning skills and interests in learning science were significantly improved.
Harkness, Suzan J. 2009. "Integrating Undergraduate Research Activities into a Campus-Wide Initiative." In Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research: Fostering Excellence and Enhancing the Impact, eds. Jodi Wiseman and Mary Boyd. CUR: Washington, DC.
Abstract: Being the nation?s only urban land-grant institution, as well as a Historically BlackrnCollege and University (HBCU), the University of the District of Columbia (UDC)rnhas a unique student body, with a majority of the students classified as minorities.1rnAlthough many students have family responsibilities, work while attending school,rnor both, they are open to the challenges of research and scholarly activities.rnUndergraduate research has been practiced since the university?s inception in 1976,rnsupported by both internal and external funds.Asurvey conducted during the 2006?07rnacademic year indicated that 25 percent of the responding faculty members acrossrnthe university engaged undergraduate students in research activities that year, withrn39 percent having done so in the past.rnThe level and impact of undergraduate research and scholarly activity at UDC isrnenhanced by the coordination of efforts. An interdisciplinary UndergraduaternResearch Committee (URC), formed in 2006, provides a framework and leadership.rnrnBroadening Participation in Undergraduate Research was recently published by the Council on Undergraduate Research and co-edited by Dr. Boyd and Dr. Jodi L. Wesemann, Assistant Director for Higher Education, American Chemical Society. It shares examples and practical strategies for building sustainable programs ? programs that increase the research capacity of higher education institutions and the country, provide opportunities for students who have not traditionally been involved in research, and encourage all students to reach their full potential. It also discusses moving from individual and isolated research activities towards integrated and expanded efforts capable of engaging and challenging many more participants. The book may be purchased at CUR?s web site ( or calling (202) 783-4810.
Harkness, S.Suzan J. 2010. "Beyond the Soup Kitchen Model and Drive-By Volunteerism: Transformative Civic Engagement - an Analysis of Learning Outcomes."
Abstract: As institutions expand their curriculum to include experiential, active, and community-based learning opportunities they struggle with models of practice that have deep and lasting impact. Civic engagement is a popular activity and hopeful outcome across American institutions of higher education. It is often the objective, that through engagement with political process, or solving social problems, students will gain skills and an appetite toward civic obligation and responsibility to community. It is progressive and ambitious in intention when seen as the objective although as a curricular activity, the endeavors are often episodic volunteerism rather than sustained engagement aligned with outcomes. The pedagogical approach rarely utilizes reflection as a means to help students make meaning of their engagement. As a result, educators lack evidence of the effectiveness of these curricular activities, and we know little about the affordances associated, such as gains in efficacy. The purpose of this study was to examine learning outcomes and effectiveness of an experiential program. This paper will discuss the outcomes of a civic engagement model embedded within a Washington, D.C., internship program. The study used the Council for Academic Standards (CAS) assessment rubrics as a model to examine outcomes from twenty-five students during the 2008 academic year. The findings demonstrate promise and evidence that students shifted toward an awareness of social responsibility and increased efficacy as a result of their participation.rnrnrnKey Terms: Experiential Education, Internship, Civic Engagement, Efficacy, Reflection, Learning Outcomes, Assessment, Affordancesrn
Harkness, S.Suzan, Michael Kuchinsky, and Christine Pappas. 2011. “Civic Engagement Track I Summary.” PS: Political Science & Politics 44 (03): 653-65.
Abstract: In 2004, 40 political scientists gathered in Washington, DC, to inaugurate the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC), which aimed to explore how we teach and how students learn best within the discipline. A common theme linking the active-based curriculum to political science over the past eight years has been the theory of experiential education. Over time, the vibrant conversation within this track has included community-based learning, service learning, civic engagement, community-based research, simulations, case studies, problem-based learning, and internships. The discourse has also shifted away from asking what civic engagement is and how we can integrate it into the curriculum toward questions such as:Community-based learning, service learning, civic engagement, community-based research, simulations, case-studies, problem-based learning, and internships. While the discourse may have shifted away from asking what is civic engagement and how do we integrate it into the curriculum toward: How do we assess and document learning? What is the long-term impact? What are the affordances to all participants? What constitutes success? What is more important, political engagement or civic engagement? What are models to measure efficacy? Can we develop systematic standards? Is there a bias within the framework of some experiential education that favors more affluent students? And do traditional students, non-traditional students, and faculty define what constitutes political and civic engagement fall within the same realm of activities? The exchange of ideas within this track has matured as the discipline develops best practices while documenting effectiveness.rnrn
DOI: 10.1017/S1049096511000916

Substantive Focus:
Education Policy SECONDARY
Social Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY
Public Opinion SECONDARY