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Making Assessment Matter: Changing Cultures, Improving Teaching, and Transforming Departments
Unformatted Document Text:  Deardorff and Folger 8 from the entire university?) and obtain specific opinions and suggestions from current students regarding their observations of the department. In addition, this research has the added benefit of helping students become more engaged in the curricular revision process. The findings are very positive across the range of questions; the political science department is higher on every indicator than the university as a whole. Majors rate the department especially high on “faculty caring” and “accessibility,” “rigor,” “quality,” and “reputation.” Upon scrutiny, it becomes evident there are significant differences between students who work more than twenty hours outside of classes and those who do not work such extensive hours. Employed students rate the department lower on a wide variety of questions. This correlation does not occur with other factors (e.g., race, gender, socio-economic status, GPA). One of the strongest positive responses is to the question “I seldom get the ‘run-around’ when seeking information from the department”—this is much higher than the whole campus response. The faculty believes that these findings demonstrate their success in creating an academic community, a primary goal articulated in their mission. The registrar’s office provides the numbers and sizes of all the courses that faculty in the Department of Political Science have offered over the last five years in the general and major curricula. These enrollment patterns help determine which courses need to be offered more or less frequently and which do not need to be offered at all. By identifying courses that do not make enrollment consistently or are typically oversubscribed, they are able to make decisions that maximize the potential for growth without compromising quality. In many institutions, the Director of Institutional Research and Coordinator of Assessment is a political scientist and can be a great source of additional data. For our hypothetical department, the university attrition statistics reveal that students switching from political science tend to transfer to majors in business and criminal justice. The department discovers political science majors withdraw from the university at a higher rate than students in other majors, generally citing financial reasons. Well above the university norm when it comes to financial concerns, political science students at this institution focus on getting a job and being financially successful after graduation. National data demonstrates that the department’s political science students are employed for more hours a week than the national norm and seem to have a greater financial need relative to the whole population. Consequently, these students are worried about future employment and that a political science degree is not useful in the job market. More positively, the department demonstrates through the data that several

Authors: Deardorff, Michelle. and Folger, Paul.
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Deardorff and Folger 8
from the entire university?) and obtain specific opinions and suggestions from current students
regarding their observations of the department. In addition, this research has the added benefit of
helping students become more engaged in the curricular revision process.
The findings are very positive across the range of questions; the political science department is
higher on
every indicator than the university as a whole. Majors rate the department especially high on
“faculty caring” and “accessibility,” “rigor,” “quality,” and “reputation.” Upon scrutiny, it becomes
evident there are significant differences between students who work more than twenty hours outside of
classes and those who do not work such extensive hours. Employed students rate the department lower
on a wide variety of questions. This correlation does not occur with other factors (e.g., race, gender,
socio-economic status, GPA). One of the strongest positive responses is to the question “I seldom get
the ‘run-around’ when seeking information from the department”—this is much higher than the whole
campus response. The faculty believes that these findings demonstrate their success in creating an
academic community, a primary goal articulated in their mission.
The registrar’s office provides the numbers and sizes of all the courses that faculty in the Department
of Political Science have offered over the last five years in the general and major curricula. These
enrollment patterns help determine which courses need to be offered more or less frequently and which
do not need to be offered at all. By identifying courses that do not make enrollment consistently or are
typically oversubscribed, they are able to make decisions that maximize the potential for growth without
compromising quality.
In many institutions, the Director of Institutional Research and Coordinator of Assessment is a
political scientist and can be a great source of additional data. For our hypothetical department, the
university attrition statistics reveal that students switching from political science tend to transfer to
majors in business and criminal justice. The department discovers political science majors withdraw from
the university at a higher rate than students in other majors, generally citing financial reasons. Well
above the university norm when it comes to financial concerns, political science students at this
institution focus on getting a job and being financially successful after graduation. National data
demonstrates that the department’s political science students are employed for more hours a week than
the national norm and seem to have a greater financial need relative to the whole population.
Consequently, these students are worried about future employment and that a political science degree is
not useful in the job market. More positively, the department demonstrates through the data that several


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