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Palo Alto College introduces new hands-on curriculum

By Amanda Lozano | 14 de noviembre de 2012

San Antonio.- A staged crime took place at Palo Alto Community College on Friday, November 9. A 10-year-old boy was brutally shot in the head causing a gruesome scene, full of fake blood. Police tape surrounded the area as forensics came to examine the victim.

This crime scene was presented and used for a lesson for the criminal justice and forensic students of the campus.

In agreement with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), Palo Alto has created a five year plan, called the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) with hopes to improve student success by incorporating active learning into classes. Problem–based learning is the particular active learning strategy that will be the focus of the Quality Enhancement Plan.  Classes such as chemistry, history, business and criminal justice are among the first to put this into action.

Earl Ballou and Lynn Parker, professors of forensics and criminal justice at Palo Alto created a lifelike crime scenario that students had to work in teams and solve the homicide of the victim. Two classes had 45 minutes each to ask questions, examine evidence and ultimately solve the case. They went all out and hired a professional makeup artist; Maria Pena, who worked on the boy: 10 year old Elijah Parker, son of one of the professors.

“This is the first time we’ve gone this far and this extensive. We’ve had crime scenes before, but never anything this extensive.”  Parker said. “And my son gets such a big kick out of this. He’s a ham at heart,” he said, laughing.

“I think we are offering them practical education. They may be able to get the theory and exposure through books, elsewhere. But we are going to try here to see that they can put their theory onto practice,” added Parker.  “And we hope to do it. Not just the hands-on. Not just the theory.  But the real life effects that go along with it. That’s important.”  For more information on Palo Alto College, or the QEP plan, visit www.alamo.edu/pac/qep.

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