Unit: Political Science
Program: Political Science (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Wed Oct 28, 2009 - 3:17:24 pm

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

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) 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

Assessment of SLO #1 and #3 are ongoing during a graduate student’s tenure within the department.  We begin this assessment at the admissions process.  Unlike many programs who use the GRE as the method of screening students, the Political Science Department measures the possibility of success in graduate school through an evaluation of the writing sample required of all potential incoming students.  These submissions are evaluated by the admissions committee based upon the ability the student demonstrates to do quality research, to pose a research question, to contribute to the discipline, to write clearly, and to illustrate an interest in the subject matter. 

Upon entry into the program, each student is required to submit a progress report each academic year (see question 6).  The faculty holds a series of department meetings where each student in the graduate program is discussed at length.  Their progress and their strengths and weaknesses are subject to discussion.

SLO #2 is assessed either through the comprehensive exams, the dissertation process, and/or the master’s thesis.  Those pursuing MA Plan B must participate in a culminating experience, often the publication of a paper in a peer-reviewed journal.  All these are mechanisms for assessing student learning.

We have also developed a survey that will be administered to all graduate students in November of 2009.  This survey will provide additional data for future assessment as well as insight into how the improve the program.

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

7) State the Type(s) of Evidence Gathered

Assessment at the graduate level takes place regularly. There is an annual discussion among the faculty regarding the progress of each graduate student, her special needs, and her academic strengths. Graduate committees are the appropriate central organs of support, assessment, and mentoring of advanced graduate students. Nonetheless, the department has learned that a general discussion of student progress elicits a great deal of information about our graduate program, its strengths and weaknesses, and the general issues facing graduate students, especially in their earlier years in the program. It also offers an opportunity to address specific issues confronting some students and their committees, multiplying both the pedagogical ideas that can aid student progress. We also assess the program at irregular intervals as issues emerge. Currently, we are engaged in rethinking the comprehensive examinations and in developing more formal approaches to professional training, particularly in light of some recent incidents that have convinced us that we are deficient in this aspect of our training. In addition, we ask students to provide us annual self-assessment statements of 3 to 5 pages in length. The faculty read these collectively and we use them both to tune our responses to each individual graduate student, but also to address collective issues that emerge in the aggregate reading of these documents.

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

The department seeks to treat each student as a unique individual worth serious discussion.  Thus, we engage in a highly qualitative approach that probes the strengths and weaknesses of a student based upon their classroom work across the department.

9) State How Many Pieces of Evidence Were Collected

Self-reports from graduate students.

10) Summarize the Actual Results

Our assessment process allows us to target students who seem to be falling behind in their program or students who have been struggling in certain areas.  This process allows the graduate chair and the department chair to follow up with students.  It also allows us to understand our student’s on an individualized basis instead as a number in a quantitative assessment report.

11) Briefly Describe the Distribution and Discussion of Results

The department uses the results to think about the needs of each student involved.

12) Describe Conclusions and Discoveries

At this point, the department is seeking additional data about the program in the form of a survey and this data will help the department revise its curriculum accordingly.

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

At this time, the results of our last student assessment led us to believe that there are some problems in the comprehensive examination system, which is now under discussion for possible revision.

14) Reflect on the Assessment Process

Our current assessment process gives us a detailed look at each of our graduate students.  Furthermore, comprehensive examinations and culminating projects that are either dissertations, MA thesis, or culminating experiences also demonstrate that the students graduating from our program have met our SLOs.

15) Other Important Information

We have a new graduate chair who began in the Fall of 2009.  She has begun revisions on the graduate student guide, has developed a survey for existing graduate students, is compiling contact information for alumni to distribute the first ever alumni survey, and is working on creating an exit interview procedure for current and future graduates of the program.  These projects will help frame future assessment reports and provide a deeper level of understanding for the strengths and weaknesses of our students and the program. 

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.