Unit: Political Science
Program: Political Science (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Tue Oct 07, 2014 - 8:14:02 pm

1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update as needed.

We assume students who enter graduate level study have been given appropriate training in the fundamentals of the discipline and possess the qualities necessary to produce graduate-level work. From the admissions process on, students are assessed upon several important outcomes.

1. The ability to produce quality scholarship.

At the graduate level we anticipate that students will use their knowledge of the fundamentals of the discipline as well as the critical evolution of the discipline over time to help contribute to that field through their own research.

2. Mastery of one or more of the sub-fields offered in the major.

Our program offers subfields that form the specialization a graduate student will develop while enrolled in the program. We expect students graduating from the program to have mastered one or more of these subfields. Specifically, they should have an understanding of the traditional and critical literature of the subfield and be able to demonstrate a mastery of these fields.

3. Ability to think politically. Much like our expectations of the undergraduate majors, we require students to think politically about social phenomenon. Comprehending that all social, economic, and cultural processes are also political is a crucial learning outcome. That comprehension creates knowledgeable citizenry capable of acting on policy decisions and conduct. That no knowledge is innocent, but that all knowledge has consequences is key to this learning outcome.

2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL: http://www.politicalscience.hawaii.edu/graduate-program.html
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: http://www.politicalscience.hawaii.edu/graduate-program.html
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:

3) Select one option:

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2014:

4) For your program, the percentage of courses that have course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is as follows. Please update as needed.


5) Did your program engage in any program assessment activities between June 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014? (e.g., establishing/revising outcomes, aligning the curriculum to outcomes, collecting evidence, interpreting evidence, using results, revising the assessment plan, creating surveys or tests, etc.)

No (skip to question 14)

6) For the period between June 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

The main change we instituted in the period under discussion was revamping our PhD Advising process. Our perception - confirmed in a survey given out to graduate students in the preceding year - was that a significant number of students, especially those with weaker backgrounds in the field, tended to flounder in the program. In large part this was because the advising system was somewhat user-initiated and the more shy and reticent students who needed advising the most were the ones also less likely to get it. We have therefore paired up every single one of our PhD and MA students with an assigned adviser whom they have to meet at the start of each semester. These meetings are to discuss courses to be taken; timing for proposal defense and comprehensive examinations; dissertation chapter completion; and job market and career advising, as they progress through the stages. 

At the end of each year, facutly are required to file reports on their advisees or wards. These can be either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. In the latter case, the adviser and student have to come up with a time-bound plan to address deficiencies and work out a strategy for remedial action. In cases where there are two successive unsatisfactory reports, the student is likely to be terminated from the program. 

A second major change has been that in all graduate courses, in additon to filing grades, faculty have to write a one- or two-paragraph length descriptive summary of the student's performance in that graduate class. These summaries will then be sent to the student's adviser at the end of the semester so that the adviser has something more than just a GPA on which to assess the student's progress, deficiencies, and needs. 

And a third change has been making POLS 600 a course that all incoming new graduate students are strongly encouraged to take. 600 has the participation of the entire faculty each of whom presents their work, their research methods and select publications to the class during one of its weekly meetings. This way not only do students come to know of all the faculty (and can then decide whom to cultivate more assiduously) but also that the class as a whole gets the sense of being a cohort and to help each other through the process. 

Evidence on the positive aspects of all the above are at this point anecdotal or impressionistic. We as a department are seriously committed to the advising process and ensuring that students don't feel as if they are entirely on their own. To some degree, all doctoral programs are self-starting and ultimately rely on student initiative and determination. Yet advising can be a very instrumental way to help students realize their dreams and we are accordingly focusing on that aspect. 


7) State the type(s) of evidence gathered to answer the assessment question and/or meet the assessment goals that were given in Question #6.

The paragraphs length descriptive account of grad student perfromance in classes is invaluable in flagging problems early on as well as determing the small percentage of cases where a doctoral degree seems an unlikely prospect for the student. We advise them early to pursue other options as this will likely not work out for them. 

8) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

All professors who teach graduate courses are required to furnish these paragraphs about their students. These are made available to the student's main advisor and the Grad Chair. Other faculty can see the evaluations by asking for them from the Grad Chair. 

9) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)
Other: Graduate Chair

10) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)

11) For the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goal(s) stated in Question #6:
Summarize the actual results.

12) State how the program used the results or plans to use the results. Please be specific.

We are continuously monitoring our graduate program to see how effectively we serve our students. While I cannot include all the data here, we have collected them and the following is a summary: (a) In the period 2005-2014, we have become more selective in admissions into our MA and PhD programs; (b) a higher percentage of students we admit decide to actually enroll (this trend was bucked in the most recent years due to a sharp decline in federal and other funding opportunties for graduate study); and (c) we have seen in the last two years a sharp increase in the number of students graduating as we made it clear that lingerin on in the program in a limbo was no longer permissible. The number of (in)active grad students on our rolls has undergone a sharp reduction, something in the nature of 40%. All this indicates we are headed in the right direction. 

13) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries?
This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.

14) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please explain.
Or, if the program did engage in assessment activities, please add any other important information here.