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Serving the Greater Good: Delivering General Education Outcomes in a Small Liberal Arts College
Unformatted Document Text:  content to meet the requirements from the Iowa Department of Education for all elementary education students. 16 The course is approved to fulfill the Global Awareness rubric under our general education requirements. 17 The course enrollment varies between 35 and 40 primarily lower division non-major students. The World Politics course combines the traditional discipline based content of an introductory course to political science course with a strong geographical component. For our majors, this is the second course for a first year student majoring in political science, blending basic concepts, comparative thinking, and international politics. However, the overwhelming majority of the students take the course to fulfill the Global Awareness general education requirement or the geography component for the elementary education students. We are challenged to engage a group that is not particularly interested in political science but that generally likes politics. In an effort to address this challenge we have substituted the lecture for more active learning pedagogies, incorporated multiple short writing assignments, and selected carefully selected readings that are accessible and challenging. The first step is to select readings that will be accessible to all students. At this point in their academic careers, the disciplinary content is new for majors and non-majors. The main textbook is a comparative politics course that incorporates geographical concepts and content and it is complemented by the World Politics Atlas and World Politics reader. 18 Integrating in an orderly and logical manner the readings for the course, particularly the even distribution of readings and assignments per day, is always a balancing act. We avoid as much a possible disrupting the organization of the main textbook. Thus, the main political science textbook is the first to be integrated into the syllabus followed by the world politics atlas and reader. The course readings and writing assignments have a two-fold purpose: content learning outcomes and research techniques. 19 The course integrates a considerable amount of daily homework and short written assignments. The main purpose of these short writings and quizzes is primarily for reading comprehension and particularly, to verify if the students understand key concepts in the discipline. Additionally, the quizzes include a map to locate countries in the region as well as other geographical content. The most effective short writing assignment that we have incorporated in the course is the Political Science in the News (PSNs). This homework asks the student to find news clipping related to the readings of the day. The students provide a short summary of the news clipping content followed by a specific connection to class material. This exercise helps the student to realize that political science concepts are relevant to everyday 16 Wahlke (1991). The author recommends political science educators to incorporate geographical concepts to improve student comprehension of political science. 17 Prior to the 2003 curricular changes, the course was offered in the three hour model. See Appendix E for the complete Global Awareness Assessment Form. 18 Roskin (2007), Allen (2008), and Purkitt (2007-2008). Additional articles are available electronically or at the Library’s reserve section. 19 COURSE OUTCOMES: This course includes content, skills, and disposition objectives in accordance with the college and the political science department learning outcomes. The content outcomes are to: 1.understand basic concepts, institutions, ideas, values, and processes in world politics(departmental objectives); 2. study the interconnectedness among governments, cultures, and people of the world (college wide objectives); 3. introduce the students to basic geographical concepts and ideas; (Iowa Department of Education). The skills outcomes are to: 1. develop analytical and synthesis skills; 2.develop writing skills through short assignments; 3. introduce the student to basic comparative research techniques, both traditional and electronic. Dispositions: 1. to reflect on the values that impact your political decisions and views; 2. to reflect on your role as a member of the international community. Lopez & McKinlay, 10

Authors: Lopez, Lillian. and McKinlay, Patrick.
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content to meet the requirements from the Iowa Department of Education for all elementary
education students.
The course is approved to fulfill the Global Awareness rubric under our
general education requirements.
The course enrollment varies between 35 and 40 primarily
lower division non-major students.
The World Politics course combines the traditional discipline based content of an
introductory course to political science course with a strong geographical component. For our
majors, this is the second course for a first year student majoring in political science, blending
basic concepts, comparative thinking, and international politics. However, the overwhelming
majority of the students take the course to fulfill the Global Awareness general education
requirement or the geography component for the elementary education students. We are
challenged to engage a group that is not particularly interested in political science but that
generally likes politics. In an effort to address this challenge we have substituted the lecture for
more active learning pedagogies, incorporated multiple short writing assignments, and selected
carefully selected readings that are accessible and challenging.
The first step is to select readings that will be accessible to all students. At this point in
their academic careers, the disciplinary content is new for majors and non-majors. The main
textbook is a comparative politics course that incorporates geographical concepts and content
and it is complemented by the World Politics Atlas and World Politics reader.
Integrating in an
orderly and logical manner the readings for the course, particularly the even distribution of
readings and assignments per day, is always a balancing act. We avoid as much a possible
disrupting the organization of the main textbook. Thus, the main political science textbook is the
first to be integrated into the syllabus followed by the world politics atlas and reader.
The course readings and writing assignments have a two-fold purpose: content learning
outcomes and research techniques.
The course integrates a considerable amount of daily
homework and short written assignments. The main purpose of these short writings and quizzes
is primarily for reading comprehension and particularly, to verify if the students understand key
concepts in the discipline. Additionally, the quizzes include a map to locate countries in the
region as well as other geographical content. The most effective short writing assignment that we
have incorporated in the course is the Political Science in the News (PSNs). This homework asks
the student to find news clipping related to the readings of the day. The students provide a short
summary of the news clipping content followed by a specific connection to class material. This
exercise helps the student to realize that political science concepts are relevant to everyday
16
Wahlke (1991). The author recommends political science educators to incorporate geographical concepts to
improve student comprehension of political science.
17
Prior to the 2003 curricular changes, the course was offered in the three hour model. See Appendix E for the
complete Global Awareness Assessment Form.
18
Roskin (2007), Allen (2008), and Purkitt (2007-2008). Additional articles are available electronically or at the
Library’s reserve section.
19
COURSE OUTCOMES: This course includes content, skills, and disposition objectives in accordance with the
college and the political science department learning outcomes. The content outcomes are to: 1.understand basic
concepts, institutions, ideas, values, and processes in world politics(departmental objectives); 2. study the
interconnectedness among governments, cultures, and people of the world (college wide objectives); 3. introduce the
students to basic geographical concepts and ideas; (Iowa Department of Education). The skills outcomes are to: 1.
develop analytical and synthesis skills; 2.develop writing skills through short assignments; 3. introduce the student
to basic comparative research techniques, both traditional and electronic. Dispositions: 1. to reflect on the values that
impact your political decisions and views; 2. to reflect on your role as a member of the international community.
Lopez & McKinlay, 10


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