ASSESSMENT PLAN UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. Mission Statement

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1 ASSESSMENT PLAN UNDERGRADUATE MAJOR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE Mission Statement The Department of Political Science aims to provide instruction that enables students completing the major to acquire a college-level understanding of politics that include: (1) a basic knowledge of political behavior and governmental institutions, policies, and theories and (2) skills in critical thinking, research design, oral and written communication, and problem solving as they are related to the study of politics. Intended Outcomes 1. Students graduating with a major in Political Science will be able to formulate a political science research question and choose appropriate methods for investigating that question. They will be able to interpret their findings and confirm or reject their initial hypotheses. For this and all of the eight intended outcomes listed in this document, achievement of our goals will be measured by the degree they meet the assessment standards listed below. Assessment: Students will receive a grade of B or better on an independent research paper written in the capstone course (Political Science 500) under the supervision of a department faculty member. Papers will be held to the standards outlined in this objective. (See the statement below on the capstone course; see also the Evaluation Form for Pol Sci 500 Paper Supervisors in appendix A). 2. Students will be capable of writing an analytical essay containing a defined thesis, evidence and conclusion. That essay should be logically organized and argued, clearly and effectively written, and properly documented. Assessment: Students will receive a grade of B or better on an independent research paper written in their capstone course under the supervision of a department faculty member. Papers will be held to the standards outlined in this objective. 3. Students will have a good basic knowledge and understanding of political, institutions, behavior, culture, and ideology in the United States or other countries. Assessment: Students must successfully complete Political Science 103 (Introduction to Political Science) or Political Science 104 (Introduction to American Government and Politics) with a grade of B or better. 4. Students will have a good basic knowledge and understanding of quantitative research design and statistical analysis.

2 Assessment: Students must successfully complete Political Science 203 (Introduction to Political Science Research) or Political Science 390 (Political Data Analysis) with a grade of B or better. At the close of the semester, instructors for Political Science 203 and 390 will fill out evaluations of their students skills in political methodology and assessing their basic research skills (note: students in these courses are largely political science majors). 5. Students will have a good basic knowledge and understanding of a specific aspect of American politics such as electoral behavior, the Congress, or interest groups. Assessment: Students must successfully complete a course in American Politics beyond the 200 level (as described in current UWM Undergraduate Catalog) with a grade of B or better. 6. Students will have a good basic knowledge and understanding of the political systems of at least one world region outside of the United States. Assessment: Students must successfully complete a course in Comparative Politics beyond the 200 level (as described in current UWM Undergraduate Catalog) with a grade of B or better. 7. Students will have a good basic knowledge and understanding of international relations. Assessment: Students must successfully complete a course in International Relations beyond the 200 level (as described in current UWM Undergraduate Catalog) with a grade of B or better. 8. Students will have a good basic knowledge and understanding of political ideas, arguments, ideologies, and philosophies. Assessment: Students must successfully complete a course in Political Theory beyond the 200 level (as described in current UWM Undergraduate Catalog) with a grade of B or better. The capstone course is designed to help Political Science majors complete a substantial research paper drawing upon and demonstrating the knowledge and skills described in our mission statement. Each student works with a faculty supervisor having expertise on the student s topic who also evaluates the paper. Because students use skills learned in political science courses, their seminar papers can provide a good benchmark of how well the Department is preparing its majors. 2

3 Subjective Assessment Measures: Student Exit Surveys The objective measures outlined above will be supplemented by an exit survey administered during the last week of class to seniors taking the capstone course required of all graduating majors (Political Science 500). The survey asks students to supply the following information: 1) what they liked and disliked about the major requirements and about the courses they took; 2) how they would like to see the major changed; 3) what they perceived the quality of faculty instruction to be; and 4) how involved faculty were with student learning (via advising, teaching, and overall concern for students). Appendix B contains a copy of the survey questionnaire. Feedback: Converting Assessment Results into Program Improvement 1) The Department will collect data each year on the percentage of majors who have satisfied the standards in intended outcomes 3-8, above (i.e., the proportion of majors who receive a grade of B or better in the relevant courses). 2) Each semester, the Capstone instructor will give the Chair (or Undergraduate Director) summaries of the evaluations of the students performances as indicated by the evaluation form filled out by faculty who supervise capstone papers (Appendix A). 3) Each semester, the Director of Undergraduate Studies will give the Chair an analysis of the exit surveys completed by seniors and summaries of the open-ended responses. 4) Each semester instructors in Political Science 203 and 390 will summarize to the Chair the results of the assessments noted under intended outcome (4) above. 5) Based on the preceding data, the Chair and Director of Undergraduate Studies may recommend to the Department specific areas for improvement in the undergraduate major and an action plan for such improvement. 6) During the following Fall semester, the Undergraduate Committee and then the Department will consider the implementation of any recommended changes in the major such as new course requirements for the major or other curricular improvements. 7) Peer evaluations of faculty teaching will include a section in which the classroom observer comments on the ways in which the professor s course addresses (or fail to address) the departmental mission statement and selected intended outcomes. 3

4 APPENDIX A Evaluation Form for POLI SCI 500 Paper Supervisors Semester/Year: Author and Title of Paper: Did the student demonstrate a basic knowledge of political institutions, policies, and theories? To a high degree To an adequate degree To an insufficient degree Comments: Did the student demonstrate skills in critical thinking, oral and written communication, and problem solving as they are related to the study of politics? To a high degree To an adequate degree To an insufficient degree Comments: Additional Comment 4

5 Appendix B Exit Survey Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin Milwaukee As part of the continuing efforts of the department of Political Science of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee to assess the success and performance of its major programs, each prospective graduating major is asked to complete this questionnaire. Please answer the questions on this form with candor and care. Your insights, taken in conjunction with those of your peers, constitute one of the most valuable sources of information that can be used to maintain and improve the quality of the Political Science curriculum at UWM. Please bear in mind the following points: 1) Direct your comments to your experience in the Political Science major as a whole, and not just POL SCI ) Be assured that your anonymity is guaranteed and that your responses to this form will not affect your grade in the Capstone or in any other class. The surveys will be immediately returned to the Director of Undergraduate Studies and will be used for informational purposes only. Section I. Demographic Information. (To be used for statistical purposes only.) 1) Into which of the following categories does your overall cumulative GPA fall? (Circle one.) or less 2) Into which of the following categories does your Political Science GPA fall? (Circle one.) or less 3) Are you (circle one) Male Female 4) What racial or ethnic group best describes you? (Circle one.) Black. Asian. Native American. Hispanic or Latino. White. Other. 5

6 5) What is your current age? 6) How many years has it taken for you to complete your degree? 7) How many hours per week, on average, were you employed while attending UWM? 8) Did you take classes primarily in the evening, or primarily during the day? Evening. Day. About the same of each. Section II. Closed-Ended Questions. Please indicate your level of satisfaction with the following on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 = very satisfied, 2 = satisfied, 3 = neutral, 4 = dissatisfied, and 5 = very dissatisfied. Item 1) Your academic experience at UWM. 2) Your academic experience in the political science major at UWM. 3) The quality of academic advising in the major. 4) The availability of desired courses. 5) The level of concern Political Science faculty exhibited for students. 6) The requirements of the Political Science Major. 7) Overall instruction in lower division courses. 8) Overall instruction in upper division courses. Satisfaction 6

7 Section III. Open-Ended Questions. Please answer each of the following open-ended questions. If you require more space for an answer, you may attach a separate sheet. 1) If you provided negative feedback on any of the above closed-ended comments, please elaborate here. (E.g, If you indicated some concern with the availability of courses, please indicate the source of your dissatisfaction. Were certain subject areas not covered adequately? Was the time courses were offered less than optimal? Were required courses (103, 104, 203, 390, 500) not offered often enough? If you indicated dissatisfaction with instruction in lower division courses, which particular courses need improvement? Why did you rate overall instruction in those courses negatively? Etc.) 2) If you provided positive feedback on any of the above closed-ended comments, please elaborate here. (E.g, If you indicated that the level of concern for students among Political Science faculty was high, is there one professor you d like to single out for a compliment? If you indicated great satisfaction with the requirements for the major, what did you like about those requirements specifically? Etc.) 3) Overall, what is your general assessment of your experience within the UWM Political Science major? 4) How can the Political Science major be improved? 7

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