Unit: Political Science
Program: Political Science (BA)
Degree: Bachelor's
Date: Wed Oct 28, 2009 - 11:49:04 am

1) List your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs).

1.Learn to think politically. 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. Students learn that the disciplinary boundaries that inform our comprehension of societal phenomena, while useful in engendering and accumulating knowledge, can also obscure the systemic connections at work across the societal networks and process. How these connections are structured as well as preserved is a function of politics. Politics organizes and condition life possibilities and choices for citizens. That no knowledge is innocent, but that all knowledge has consequences is key to the cognition of this learning outcome.
2. Make a good argument. Both political phenomena and scholarship generally require the capacity to reason well. To make a good political argument students need to learn to identify an argument, to distinguish strong and weak ways of making arguments, to analyze the arguments of others and to offer their own. Through the careful reading of important texts, scrutiny of available evidence, and teaching methods that exemplify good arguments and that engage students in the creation and testing of their own knowledge, the department emphasizes forms of expression key to academic excellence, participation in the public sphere, and lifelong learning.
3. Become critical of power. The study of power is a common interest across the discipline of political science. It is critical to the development of active citizens and lifelong learners. We expect our students to learn to identify the workings of power in various forms, including power in language, in institutions, and in daily life. The ability to analyze power effectively, to ask critical questions about authority and legitimacy, are central to a robust understanding of politics.
4. Communicate effectively in public settings. Learning to make a good argument and to think critically about power are key resources for effective public communication. Effective communication encompasses many types of media, including oral or written forms, electronic forms, visual or musical forms of expression. Our students will learn to speak and write clearly and effectively in a variety of social settings, including classrooms, informal groups, formal public presentations, published essays, fiction, letters to the editor, electronic discussions, and others.
5. Develop knowledge of fundamentals in political science. For the aforementioned SLOs to be cultivated and achieved, our students are systematically exposed to a range of seminal knowledge fundamental to political science. While all subfields, such as political theory and International relations, have their historically accumulated core knowledge base, they also rely on and transmit literatures common to their endeavor. UH Political Science Department’s “critical” disposition” acquires it depth and breath along with or in the company of, such seminal or fundamental knowledges. Its contributions to political science flows from a commitment to equipping undergraduate students with the knowledge regarding the discipline across history and geography.

2) Where are your program's SLOs published?

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

3) Upload your program's current curriculum map(s) as a PDF.

No map submitted.

4) What percentage of courses have the course SLOs explicitly stated on the course syllabus, department website, or other publicly available document? (Check one)


5) State the SLO(s) that was Assessed, Targeted, or Studied

We are a critical political science faculty that treat the “field” of political science, hence the Canon, as always evolving. Because we see the political in numerous phenomena, many of which have not been developed by political science (viz., indigenous politics, food politics, queer politics, politics of migration, and aesthetic politics) we have established a unique but small set of learning outcomes that are extended across our curriculum

6) State the Assessment Question(s) and/or Goal(s) of Assessment Activity

Questions 6 through 12. Political Science SLOs are assessed as part of capstone experience, class performance, student evaluation of instructional activities as well as periodic surveys of undergraduate students. At the undergraduate levels, our assessment programs are written into our disciplinary major. Each major is expected to complete a capstone experience, and we have several from which students choose. While this diversity does not permit a simple comparison of outcomes (i.e., some students write a thesis, some take a senior seminar, while others teach an undergraduate course), it does provide us with some interesting data on how students see their own work progressing and it does provide several groups of similarly situated seniors whose work can be analyzed for familiarity with the discipline. Since political science is never or only infrequently taught prior to the university, we asume little or no theoretical knowledge for beginning majors. The few students who have completed a thesis in our department often reveal remarkable facility with theoretical models and empirical work, but this is not surprising as this is an option that our best students seem to choose. Senior seminars provide a more directly comparative subset of students, and for the most part these students still reveal some difficulties with writing that has encouraged us to sponsor more writing intensive courses in political science.

In-class assessment takes place through examinations, class reports, presentations, and written work. Faculty performs assessment tasks while keeping in mind the SLOs. Student evolutions are mandatory and results examined by the department chair in consultation with the faculty. Following the consultation process, specific instructional development programs are designed and implemented as necessary. Last, we run surveys among undergraduate students with questions that aim to measure both objective and qualitative data. The qualitative data strive to capture if and how political and critical thinking are or not facilitated in the classes. Whether students feel they were given opportunities to develop skills for making a good argument and communicating it effectively. At the quantitative side, the survey is designed to assess class availability and expected and actual graduation timelines. We are administering a survey in November 2009.

The table below summarizes our experiences with the capstone.

Spring 2004
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 18 students, All excelled
403 Community Interns: 12 students, Grades from A+ to B+
406- Senior Seminar: 14 students, Two students failed to complete. All others excelled.

Fall 2004
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 5 students All excelled,
403 Community Interns: 21 students. Grades from A+ to B+; one student failed
406 Senior Seminar: 15 students, B average among students

Spring 2005
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 7 students; All excelled
403 Community Interns: 12 students Most excelled; one C
406 Senior Seminar: 14 students; A’s and B’s

Fall 2005
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 10 students; All excelled
403 Community Interns: 13 students; most excelled, one B-
406 Senior Seminar: 14 students; A’s and B’s

Spring 2006
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 15 students; All excelled
403 Community Interns: 13 students; Grades A to b-
406 Senior Seminar: 20 students; most excelled; 21 students, B average

Fall 2006
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 16 students; All excelled
403 Community Interns: 23 Students; most excelled, 2 failed to complete
406 Senior Seminar: 19 students; B average

Spring 2007
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 5 students; Grades A to B
403 Community Interns: 11 students; Grades from A to B and two students failed
406-Senior Seminar: 18 Students; B average

Fall 2007
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns:9 Students, All excelled
Community Interns: 11 students; grades from A to B
406-Senior Seminar: 15 students; B average

Spring 2008
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns:6 students; all excelled
403Community Interns: 6 students; Grades a to b+
406-Senior Seminar: 13 students; grades from A to B-22 students, B average

Fall 2008
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 9 Students, All excelled
403 Community Interns: 19 students; All but one excelled
406 Senior Seminar: 12 students; B + average

Spring 2009
401 Teaching 402 Legislative Interns: 15 Students, All excelled
403 Community Interns: 16 students; 15 Excelled, one student failed to complete
406 Senior Seminar: 23 students; Most excelled, 6 B, one student failed to complete

As was indicated by the previous chair in our 2008 report, our original idea was to systematically assess these capstone projects, and, hence, the major, through the compilation of student portfolios. However, requests for graduate assistants who could help in this research were turned down by the University. Our dire budget situation this year has made it difficult to divert resources from teaching to this activity. However, we remained committed to assessment. This can be seen in our renewed efforts to administer comprehensive surveys at both undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, as teachers, we assess all the time; it is part of our professional knowledge and training and it is embodied in our collective practices as a faculty. The political science faculty meets regularly to talk about curriculum, to discuss student outcomes and to plan for future developments. These discussions provide the basis for curriculum updates. Our forthcoming department retreat in December 2009 will assess and revise the undergraduate program as necessary, including a major curriculum reform.

7) State the Type(s) of Evidence Gathered

8) State How the Evidence was Interpreted, Evaluated, or Analyzed

9) State How Many Pieces of Evidence Were Collected

10) Summarize the Actual Results

11) Briefly Describe the Distribution and Discussion of Results

12) Describe Conclusions and Discoveries

13) Use of Results/Program Modifications: State How the Program Used the Results --or-- Explain Planned Use of Results

We are in the midst of discussions regarding program revisions. A number of faculty subgroups are involved in specific issue areas, ranging from cirruculum reform to advising, to  assestment of learning outcomes. We will be adressing actionabe proposals during our retreat in December 2009.

14) Reflect on the Assessment Process

We will discuss this issue at the retreat.

15) Other Important Information

16) FOR DISTANCE PROGRAMS ONLY: Explain how your program/department has adapted its assessment of student learning in the on-campus program to assess student learning in the distance education program.

17) FOR DISTANCE PROGRAMS ONLY: Summarize the actual student learning assessment results that compare the achievement of students in the on-campus program to students in the distance education program.