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Office of Institutional Effectiveness

Political Science

Program Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration is to serve the State of Florida through excellent educational opportunities involving outstanding teaching, quality research, and effective civic engagement. The department focuses its resources to provide both undergraduate and graduate students with the knowledge, skills, and abilities for understanding, participating in, and managing the institutions, processes, and behaviors characteristic of national and international politics and public affairs. With excellent instruction as the highest priority, the department also supports extensive interaction with external constituencies through local, regional, state, and national professional service, and applied and theoretical research. The department is dedicated to maintaining program effectiveness for both students and community partners through continuous self-assessment.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

Content/Discipline-Specific Knowledge/Skills

  • demonstrate expertise regarding concepts, institutions, and mechanics of American politics.
  • convey familiarity with basic concepts in statistics and social science research design.
  • identify main ideas advanced by different political philosophers.
  • apply concepts in political theory to current issues.
  • demonstrate expertise regarding concepts, theories, and institutions relevant to international relations and comparative politics.
  • demonstrate increased attentiveness towards and interest in participating in American politics.

Communication Skills

  • communicate clearly and effectively, and form arguments that rely on discipline-specific evidence.

Critical Thinking Skills

  • use critical thinking skills to interpret qualitative and quantitative information.

Assessment Approaches

Beginning in Fall 2022, each semester (Fall, Spring, and Summer), we would require all instructors teaching POS2041 to build a standardized test into their Canvas course. The test will consist of a large number (30-50 questions) of multiple-choice questions representing a survey of knowledge we expect students to gain by taking the course. The same test will be administered during the first and last week of the semester, and assessment will be done using a pre-post comparison. All instructors will be required to implement the test for course credit in the same manner, such that all students will be equally incentivized to perform well on the assessment. At the end of each semester, we will then look to demonstrate a significant improvement of student performance over the semester. In addition, we will be able to compare the performance of students under different instructors. These comparisons will help to inform departmental decisions about best practices for teaching the course and retention decisions for adjunct faculty. In the long-run, over a few years, our goal would be to continuously improve our overall pre-post performance ratio.

As POS2041 is not just intended to improve understanding of American politics, but also to increase interest and participation in it, I will also recommend that the aforementioned examination will come attached with a short, anonymous survey. In the survey, students will answer questions about their degree of interest in American politics, confidence in being able to act as informed voter and consumer of political information, and intention to vote or engage in other political actions in the future. As before, a pre-post analysis across sections could be used to identify which practices are not just increasing knowledge, but also student engagement.