UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls

Mission/Assessment Statement

I.) Student Learning Objectives/Outcomes

Mission Statement

The primary mission of the Political Science Program is to create a community of responsible and engaged citizens and leaders by providing the intellectual skills and substantive knowledge necessary to analyze, interpret, and participate in domestic and international political and governmental processes. The Program also provides students with the knowledge and abilities necessary to excel in graduate and law programs, and transferable skills that graduates can use to succeed in the public and private sectors. The faculty provide expertise on international, national, and local political issues, and ongoing philosophical discussions concerning politics and government.

SPECIFIC EDUCATIONAL GOALS/PROGRAM LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Learning objectives fall into two categories: 1) substantive knowledge central to political science and 2) intellectual skills applicable to political science as well as in other contexts.

By the completion of the Political Science Major, graduates will be able to:

Substantive Knowledge:

1.)    identify essential information regarding the operation of the American political system;

2.)    define and compare political institutions throughout the world;

3.)    identify and analyze political phenomena and interactions in international relations;

4.)    describe and analyze the core intellectual traditions in political thought and apply their central tenets; and

5.)    identify the major theories, concepts, and methods used to explain political attitudes and behavior.

Intellectual Skills:

1.)    gather and assess the value of information related to the study of politics;

2.)    analyze empirical data/materials related to the study of politics;

3.)    communicate effectively in written, oral, and electronic contexts; and

4.)    organize and complete independent inquiry and analysis.

II.) Coursework and Program Requirements to Address Program Objectives

Each component of the political science curriculum is designed to provide students with either the substantive knowledge and/or intellectual skills associate with each of the Program’s learning outcomes/objectives.  The curriculum is built around several basic components.  First, students must complete a carefully selected group of required courses (POLS 114, 220, 230, 245, and 260).  These courses introduce them to the major substantive areas within the discipline, which are related to the substantive knowledge outcomes identified in Section I, above.  It is within these courses that the direct outcomes for “substantive knowledge” are assessed.

Second, students are required to complete POLS 200 Political Analysis.  This course is designed to introduce students to the research process, the discipline, generally, and various quantitative and qualitative methods.  Students are also required to complete a statistics course to enhance their abilities in this methodological area. 

Third, students choose to complete fifteen credits of electives within the major.  Ideally, these electives include a critical mass of coursework in “related” areas.  For instance, a student might study American politics, completing coursework focusing on the presidency, congress, and American elections.  Ideally, this coursework will help reinforce and expand what they learned in their introductory American politics course, and provide a sound foundation for the work they must complete in the Senior Seminar.

Fourth, the students, working under the guidance of a faculty member, must organize and complete a substantial research project in the Senior Seminar.  This course is used to assess the direct outcomes/objectives for “intellectual skills,” and the indirect outcomes/objectives for “substantive skills” identified in Section I, above.

III.) Assessment Tools used to Measure Objectives/Outcomes

SENIOR SEMINAR DIRECT ASSESSMENTdocument

SENIOR SEMINAR INDIRECT ASSESSMENTdocument

IV.) Availability of Assessment Data

Assessment data may be viewed in the Department's Office, 356 KFA.  To ensure that staff or faculty are available to provide access to the information, arranging an appointment with either the Chair, Wes Chapin, or the Academic Department Associate, Joan Kratt, is highly recommended.