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Student Expectations in Criminal Justice: Assumptions vs Reality

by David Levine, Assistant Professor

Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement Programs

New Mexico State University



  • How can we provide our students with the learning experience they expect?
  • How do we take a student’s assumptions and present the realities of Criminal Justice?
  • How can we feel comfortable and become confident with a teaching experience utilizing technology-based learning activities?



Are You Doing Your Students Justice?


As instructors, we are expected to present the realities of Criminal Justice. The media  portrays Criminal Justice professionals erroneously. Common assumptions need to be addressed and the realities must be clarified.


Instructors have the responsibility to provide students with facts, not fiction, providing them with the knowledge expected of future Criminal Justice professionals. Giving the student the power to become better critical thinkers and focus on what reality is—versus common assumptions—matters most.


How Can We Bring Reality into the Classroom?


Presenting the realities of the Criminal Justice field is paramount to a comprehensive education. Analyzing current events, legal concepts, student critical thinking and engagement brings reality into the classroom. That’s why I choose to use MindTap Criminal Justice, because it affords me time-saving and student engagement capabilities.


MindTap is a digital learning solution that enables instructors to teach using videos, current events, real life engagement activities and many review-based assignments. Using MindTap in a structured order reinforces concepts and brings to life the world of the Criminal Justice practitioner. MindTap increases my teaching creativity and greatly increases students’ excitement and motivation to learn. This life-like learning environment is stimulating and fun!


With MindTap Criminal Justice, we can prepare students to apply concepts and put critical thinking skills into action. In addition to spending class time teaching core concepts, we can give our students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking ability and make better informed decisions. In assigning the “You Decide” career scenarios, MindTap enables the educator to use real-world applications to build decision-making skills and student confidence. MindTap provides the instructor easy-to-use applications and functions enabling easy course preparation, grading, and syncing with most major Learning Management Systems.   


MindTap Helps Me Focus More on What Matters Most


  • Boosting student engagement and retention

HOW: Students can engage in skill building and various assignments through activities that are interesting, visually stimulating and give instant feedback on their progress. Easy access to course content, definitions, review exercises, videos and current events affords the student a familiar and comfortable environment in which they can understand the subject matter and increase their engagement in and out of class.


  • Enhancing/elevating my instruction

HOW: MindTap provides an instructional learning path that enables educators to present subject matter in a step-by-step, logical approach. MindTap also provides instructors with up-to-date and timely current events and topics that can bring real-world meaning to Criminal Justice concepts. To personalize instruction, instructors can upload their own content, prepare their own quizzes or exams, and add videos in MindTap. With the features in this platform, enhancing and elevating instruction is easier. MindTap Criminal Justice courses have also been Quality Matters (QM)-Certified.


  • Stimulating critical thinking and building decision-making skills

HOW: MindTap Criminal Justice stimulates critical thinking and decision making skills through “You Decide” activities, which take real life events, describe the event and present outcomes for students to choose from. Instructors can upload social media, videos and their own instructional materials to create activities that stimulate critical thinking, decision making, and classroom discussions.      


  • Leveraging technology-based learning activities

HOW: MindTap gives instructors the opportunity to implement digital learning tools into the classroom. With its ease of use, content, applications and customization capabilities, instructors can feel comfortable using MindTap. Cengage Tutorials and Tech Support make usage questions easily answered.


  • Meeting student learning expectations

HOW: Students expect more today in their learning experience and they deserve facts not fiction. Instruction must keep students’ attention through content that’s understandable and relatable. The program’s text, video, review assignments and supplemental materials provide that real-world experience. MindTap, along with the instructor’s professional experience, is the perfect formula for real-world learning that students expect in today’s classroom. 


Take the Challenge. Make a Difference.


As a Criminal Justice educator, I challenge you to step up and elevate your course using technology. Learn for yourself how MindTap Criminal Justice can help you make a difference for students trying to do the same. 


Based on my experience with MindTap, I would highly recommend you make it part of your own instruction. I know it will enhance teaching and learning in your course.