Learning Objectives

I. Goals for Student Learning

When a student completes the undergraduate major in political science, s/he should be able to:

  1. Understand political theories, structures, systems, actors, institutions, and processes, both locally and globally.
  2. Apply fundamental critical thinking skills to the analysis and interpretation of political theories, structures, systems, actors, institutions, and processes, both locally and globally.
  3. Communicate #1 and #2 effectively.

II. Procedures for Gathering and Using Information about Student Achievement of the Goals
 
Direct Measure:

In the spring semester of each academic year, after the department has been provided with a list of candidates for graduation in political science, the department chair will identify randomly a sample of students. The department will notify the identified students and request that they provide the department with a copy of a major paper written in conjunction with a political science course taken at UMass Boston. The notification will indicate that the submission will be evaluated to assist the department in measuring the achievement of learning goals. Students will be assured that the evaluation will not in any way be utilized to assess individual student learning. While selected students will be encouraged to assist the department by responding positively to the request for papers, the department will assure students that submissions are voluntary (and anonymous, if desired). The specific number of students solicited will be contingent upon the number needed to generate the receipt of approximately twenty papers for evaluation each year. All senior honors theses prepared in the department will also be added to the sample of papers evaluated.

Members of the faculty will be assigned to read the papers submitted and assess them with regard to how well they meet the three student learning goals.  Each paper will be read by two faculty members. As this process unfolds, a rubric will be developed for evaluation. This rubric will be designed to enhance consistency and agreement amongst faculty reviewers regarding the paper characteristics that best demonstrate accomplishment of the learning goals.

 

Indirect Measure: 

In the Spring semester of each academic year, after the Department has been provided with a list of candidates for graduation in Political Science, the Department will notify students on the list and request that they complete an online survey. The short voluntary survey will ask students to offer their opinions and views about their learning experiences in the Political Science Department.  The survey will consist of the following questions:

Political Science Department Survey of Majors

Congratulations on your graduation!

 

To assist us in evaluating our program, please complete this short survey about your experience with the Political Science Department. Responses are anonymous.  First, we'd like to ask several questions about what you learned as a student in our program. Please circle the answer that best describes your experience.

 

How well did your political science courses help you to understand what politics is?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

How well did your political science courses help you to explain politics in your own or other countries?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

How well did your political science courses help you to understand who makes political decisions in your own or other countries?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

How well did your political science courses familiarize you with the way government is organized in the United States?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

 

How well did your political science courses familiarize you with the way government is organized in countries other than the United States?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

How much did your political science courses improve your ability to evaluate evidence for and against political arguments?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

 

How much did your political science courses improve your ability to understand and interpret new political problems?

 

            Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

 

How much did your political science courses improve your ability to communicate your understanding of political problems in written form?

 

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

How much did your political science courses improve your ability to communicate your understanding of political problems verbally?

              Very Well           Well            Somewhat            Poorly         Not at All

 

What aspects of your education in political science at UMass Boston did you find most helpful, and why?

 

 

 

What might the Political Science Department at UMass Boston have done differently that would have helped you learn more effectively, and why?

 

 

 

 

Would you recommend a major in political science to other students?  Why, or why not?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What was the most important interaction you had with a political science faculty member?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are your plans after graduation from UMass Boston?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What were the biggest frustrations you encountered at UMass Boston, and why?

 

 

 

 

Would you recommend UMass Boston to other students? Why, or why not?

 

 

III. Procedures for Departmental Discussion and Identification of Action Items

A departmental meeting in the Spring semester will be reserved solely for the consideration and evaluation of the data compiled from the evaluation of the sample papers and  the survey data.

Since the purpose of assessment is informed decision-making, faculty members will use the data to consider ways in which learning goals can be achieved and strengthened through curriculum, pedagogy, mentoring, advising, etc. Specifically, the department will identify one or more targeted action items for the upcoming academic year which will be designed to improve learning outcomes. Additionally, a portion of the meeting will be devoted to the learning assessment process itself with consideration of ways in which that process can be continually fine-tuned and strengthened. For example, the department will consider whether its assessment tools are adequate and make determinations regarding alterations of direct and indirect measures to secure more comprehensive or higher-quality data regarding student learning outcomes.