Political Science Program Assessment:

 

Goals

 

Political science is the study of the political world in a comprehensive sense, including the behaviors, organizations, institutions and philosophical foundations of political life from the level of individuals to the international setting in both contemporary and historical contexts. In addition, political science makes the connection between theory and practice at the ground level by preparing students for active lifelong participation and leadership in democratic society. The political science major curriculum stresses the development of strong analytical skills and critical thinking and prepares students for further academic training in political science, law, public administration and other graduate programs as well as for work in public affairs, business, journalism, interest groups and a wide range of other careers.

 

1.     understand, synthesize and contribute imaginatively to the major research and theoretical debates prevalent in the study of American and comparative politics, international relations and political thought;

2.     are able to critically analyze and interpret political processes, problems and challenges;

3.     present their evidence and arguments in clear, precise language;

4.     participate thoughtfully, knowledgeably and ethically in civic life.

 

Measures

Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3

Goal 4

Use of Information

 

 

 

 

 

Review of the below information leads to adjustments in course and program design

In-class exercises – written and/or oral

 X

 X

X

 

Semi-annually

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senior Seminar

 

 X

X

X

Annually

Pre-Graduation Survey

 X

 X

 X

 X

Annually in spring semester

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last two years political science’s faculty has undergone significant turn-over. We have gotten a new theorist for the first time in 40 years, lost the other most senior person in the discipline to another institution, gained and lost positions devoted to the teaching of  comparative politics, and have one faculty member devoted ½ time to administrative functions. The combination of these personnel shifts with our ongoing review of our assessment documents led to changes in both departmental personnel sought and programmatic changes.

Personnel Changes

When we lost our senior American institutionalist, we made the decision to search for someone who could do both American institutions and Comparative Politics. There are 4 main subfields within Political Science and we were covering only 3. The discipline felt the addition of someone who could dedicate 50% of his/her course offerings to Comparative Politics would strengthen the core quality of our program and enhance the prospects’ of our alumni for graduate school.

The new theorist we hired two years ago expanded our Political Theory offerings to include a wider range of the canon of Western political thought (Modern and Contemporary thought), expanded our coverage of political theory to include non-Western sources  and has allowed our discipline to contribute very intentionally to the Environmental Studies program on campus (environmental Political Theory).

The expansion of both of these positions to include these wider areas of expertise sprang out of student response to the pre-graduation survey.

Programmatic Changes

Evaluation of the student senior seminar work, regular coursework within the major and comments in the pre-graduation survey have led to the following changes in the Political Science Program for 2009-2011:

Š      Revision of the discipline’s goals and objectives to better reflect the strengths and goals of the current faculty.

Š      Introduction of a required sophomore level Political Science Methods course(POL 2001). We were finding in our upper level courses which had independent research and our senior seminar that there was wide variation in the level of knowledge students had about the research process. This required course should alleviate this as students will need to know how to do research in Political Science before taking one of our upper level research seminars.

Š      Revision of our senior seminar. To make the project more similar to what scholars actually do, it will now entail a 2 credit revision and expansion of an earlier project done in a 4000 level course. This will also allow a single faculty member to do these which should enable more course offerings across the discipline since there will no longer be the requirement of subfield specific capstones.

Š      Separation of our 3000 and 4000 level upper level courses by a clear criteria. Now 4000 level courses in Political Science will require independent research and 3000 will not.  Students will have to have had at least one 4000 level course before taking their senior seminar so that they will be able to do the revision and adaption of prior research that our senior seminar requires.

Š      To encourage breadth of knowledge of the discipline as a whole we have also made it so that students must take courses from each of the areas within political science to get the degree, which means students will not be able to major in one faculty member.

Co-programmatic Changes

Š      We are in the process of updating our pre-graduation survey to better reflect the new goals. What is attached below is what we have been using and it will be revised in time for next year’s program evaluation by seniors.

Š      The website is in the process of being updated to make it more useful for students and prospective students.

Š      In keeping with our traditional focus on undergraduate research, we will be applying for a departmental membership in Pi Sigma Apha, the national Political Science Undergraduate Honor society.

Š      We are beginning a graduate survey so that we can get a better sense of what our graduates’ outcomes.

*Pre-Graduation Survey For Political Science Majors

[to be completed in beginning of the last semester prior to graduation; response will be anonymous, but completion is required for graduation]

 

QUESTIONS

 

Area One: Understanding Politics

 

1)    I am able to critically analyze, interpret, and synthesize the major theories that are prevalent in my major subfield of political science. (Asked on a 1-5 scale with 1 being strongly agree and 5 being strongly disagree.)

 

 

2)    List and describe the things in the political science program that best helped you develop skills to critically analyze, interpret, and synthesize the major theories in your subfield of political science. If you wish, identify specific courses, professors, or learning activities that best helped you develop these skills.

.

3)    What additional things can the political science program do to further enhance the development of these skills?

 

Area Two: Comfort with Participation in Government

 

4)    I am more empowered to participate in political activities due to my increased familiarity with politics and government. . (Asked on a 1-5 scale with 1 being strongly agree and 5 being strongly disagree.)

 

5)    List and describe the things that the political science program did the best that helped you to become more empowered to participate in political activities. If you wish, identify specific courses, professors, or learning activities that best helped you become more comfortable with political participation.

 

6)    What additional things can the political science program do to further empower you to participate in politics?

 

Area Three: Preparation for Graduate and Professional School

 

7)    I am adequately prepared for entrance into graduate or professional school. (Asked on a 1-5 scale with 1 being strongly agree and 5 being strongly disagree.)

 

8)    List and describe the things that the political science program did the best helped you to prepare for graduate or professional school. If you wish, identify specific courses, professors, or learning activities that best helped you prepare for graduate or professional school.

 

9)    What additional things can the political science program do to further enhance your preparation for graduate or professional school?

10) Please give your overall assessment of the political science program. What are its greatest strengths? What can be improved?