Political Science Outcomes Assessment Plan

Political Science Outcomes Assessment Plan (Adopted October 19, 2021; Revised June 27, 2023)

Learning Objectives (Adopted October 2021)

  • Disciplinary Knowledge 1: Students will explain key concepts of political science and political theory and related debates.
  • Disciplinary Knowledge 2: Students will characterize the policy and ethical consequences of various theoretical perspectives.
  • Analytical/Critical Thinking 1: Students will demonstrate the ability to write, discuss, and defend a research project in their field.
  • Analytical/Critical Thinking 2: Students will analyze political ideas and phenomena both empirically and normatively.
  • Technical/Applied Skills 1: Students will create written and/or verbal products to explain political phenomena or policy perspectives.
  • Technical/Applied Skills 2: Students will explain the advantages and disadvantages of different methods and sources in political or policy analysis.


Assessment Instruments

  •  Course Assignments—Our learning outcome curriculum map indicates which POS courses allow for assessment of POS learning outcomes via course assignments.  POS has adopted a four-category assessment metric for course assignments:
  1. Exceeds the Standard
  2. Meets the Standard
  3. Partially Meets the Standard
  4. Does Not Meet the Standard

Assessment of assignments will be conducted using rubrics created by the instructor of the course.  In the absence of a rubric, assessment will be conducted via the faculty member’s expert judgment of how each completed assignment meets the standard outlined for the indicated learning outcome.  The desired result is for 70% or more of students to meet or exceed the standard in lower division (100 or 200 level) courses and for 80% or more of students to meet or exceed the standard in upper division (300 or 400 level) courses.  Each year the POS Department Chair will select, with the participation of POS regular faculty, courses that allow for the assessment of at least two POS learning outcomes.  The faculty member teaching a chosen course will select an assignment from the course to assess the learning outcome in question and then will randomly select ten student assignment submissions or 20% of the student assignment submissions, whichever is larger.  In some instances larger samples may be used to determine if doing so produces similar results.  In some instances the faculty member will assess this sample themselves.  In other instances the sample of student submissions will be deidentified and then given to another regular POS faculty member, along with any associated rubrics, descriptions of desired student work, etc., for assessment.  At least two POS learning outcomes will be assessed in this fashion per academic year, with all six POS learning outcomes assessed in this manner at least once every three years.  At least once per academic year an assignment will be assessed by two faculty members independently to help establish reliability.  The Department Chair will consistently review the assessments and the learning objectives to ensure face validity.  The learning outcome assessment via course assignment plan for AY 2022-2023 through AY 2023-2024 is included here as Appendix A.

  • Capstone Course Writing Sample—A random sample of the capstone seminar papers of all POS students enrolled in the seminar will be submitted to both the capstone instructor and one other faculty member in Political Science for evaluation (normally, this other faculty member will be the department chairperson, unless, he or she is offering a capstone seminar). This representative sample will be scored on a simple three-point scale, with three representing good, two representing acceptable, and one representing unacceptable. Scores will be awarded on five criteria: (1) Grammar and writing style; (2) Ability to present a thesis statement; (3) Coherence and logic of the argument; (4) Familiarity with and use of secondary literature; where appropriate, familiarity with and use of primary sources; (5) Proper use of citations.  The overall rating will be the sum of the scores for the five criteria. Our goal is that no student will have an “unacceptable” score in any of the five categories.


  • Exit Survey—All POS students enrolled in Senior Capstone Seminars will be administered an exit survey, whose intent is to assess student perceptions of the overall learning experience. The exit survey will be mandatory; students will be advised in course syllabi that this will be a requirement. Results from the exit survey will generate both quantifiable data and qualitative comments and suggestions.  The exit survey is included here as Appendix B.


  • Alumni Survey—POS distributes a yearly newsletter to its alumni, via posting on the Departmental website, announcement via Departmental social media accounts, and an alumni email database updated periodically by the Department.  Alumni will be asked to complete a survey in each newsletter.  The survey will include Part A of the exit survey discussed above and will also include the following questions: 
  • What are your current professional pursuits?
  • How well did your Political Science major prepare you for them?
  • Have your career plans changed since graduation? If so, how and why?
  • Has your assessment of the department changed since you graduated? If so, how and why?
  • What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were here?
  • Based on these questions, what might the department do differently in the future?


III.  Feedback From and Use of Assessment Results—The assessment instruments described above seek to examine the skills students derive from the program, their satisfaction with their program of study, and the degree to which the program results in the desired learning outcomes among our students.

The department chair will be responsible for ensuring that all elements of this assessment plan take place, including but not limited to making sure that learning outcomes are assessed via course assignments, coordinating with the instructors of POS 499 to ensure that the questionnaire and the assessment of the capstone paper are completed, and including the alumni survey information in the Departmental newsletter. The department chair will also be responsible for maintaining appropriate and complete records of all data generated by these assessment instruments. We expect that it may take time for a meaningful body of data can be accumulated. As the body of data does accumulate, it will be presented at least once per year to the faculty in a regular department meeting, so that any potential or actual program weaknesses or other concerns, along with potential remedial actions to deal with them, can be addressed.  At the completion of the AY 2022-23–AY 2023-24 three year review cycle, POS faculty will meet to review the final assessment report and accompanying feedback and devise a plan to maintain strengths and act on areas for improvement. 


Appendix A: Learning Outcome Assessment Via Course Assignment Plan for AY 2022-23–2023-24

Disciplinary Knowledge 1: Fall 2022–POS 100 (Brewer); Spring 2023–POS 362 (Glover)

Disciplinary Knowledge 2: Fall 2022–POS 201 (Ballingall); Spring 2022–POS 307 (Glover)

Analytical/Critical Thinking 1: Fall 2023–POS 499 (Brewer self eval); Spring 2024–POS 301 (Ballingall self eval)

Analytical/Critical Thinking 2: Fall 2023–POS 349 Comparative Drug Policy (Glover, evaluated by Micinski) ; Spring 2024–POS 362 (Glover self eval)

Technical/Applied Skills 1: Fall 2023–POS 369 Japanese Politics (Vekasi, evaluated by Micinski); Spring 2024–POS 369-1 Refugee (Micinski, evaluated by Vekasi)

Technical/Applied Skills 2: Fall 2023–POS 241 Introduction to Comparative Politics (Brewer, self eval) ; Spring 2024–POS 359/LDR 200 Leadership Ethics (Brewer, self eval) 


Appendix B:  Exit Survey:

Please check the response with which you most agree.

1. My coursework in political science provided a logical, complete, and appropriate course of instruction.

__Strongly Agree __ Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

2. I was satisfied with the quality of my political science instruction.

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

3. I received enough personal interaction with the political science faculty, including advising.

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

4. I felt like I belonged to a community of Political Science majors. That is, I had the chance to interact with my fellow majors, including but not limited to student organizations.

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

 5. The political science major improved my writing skills

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

6. The political science major improved my analytical skills

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

7. The political science major improved my research skills

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree

8. Political science training will further my career goals

__Strongly Agree __Agree __Neutral __Disagree __Strongly disagree


Please briefly respond to the following:

  1. What was the intellectual highlight of the major?


  1. What was your favorite course, and why?


  1. What was the greatest strength of the program?


  1. What was the greatest weakness of the program?