Unit: Political Science
Program: Political Science (MA)
Degree: Master's
Date: Thu Nov 18, 2010 - 4:41:07 pm

1) Below are the program student learning outcomes submitted last year. Please add/delete/modify 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) As of last year, your program's SLOs were published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL: http://www.politicalscience.hawaii.edu/graduate-program.html
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) Below is the link to your program's curriculum map (if submitted in 2009). If it has changed or if we do not have your program's curriculum map, please upload it as a PDF.

No map submitted.

4) The percentage of courses in 2009 that had course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is indicated below. Please update as needed.


5) State the assessment question(s) and/or goals of the assessment activity. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

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 type(s) of evidence gathered.

6. State the Assessment Question and/or Goal of Assessment Activity

We designed an alumni survey for general information regarding the program. One question was designed specifically to receive alumni feedback about their educational outcomes. The survey was sent to 80 alumni who graduted with a Ph.D. and 40 replied for a 50% response rate.

Specifically, we asked:

“The classes I took as a graduate student were helpful in preparing me for my current job.”

42% strongly agreed and another 27% agreed.

7) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected?

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)

8) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence?

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)

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

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) How did your program use the results? --or-- Explain planned use of results.
Please be specific.

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

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

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) Other important information:

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. Additionally, 9 other proposals to revise aspects of the graduate program are under review in the department.

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.

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.