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Serving the Greater Good: Delivering General Education Outcomes in a Small Liberal Arts College
Unformatted Document Text:  and International Relations. The curriculum is very structured. 27 We strongly believe that all graduates must complete core courses in the discipline to be best positioned for future graduate work. The department also seeks opportunities across campus for horizontal integration of elective courses for our students. Our colleagues in History deliver a variety of upper level courses, most of which are cross-listed in HIST. Additionally, our students can complete electives from cross-listed courses offered in the departments of Religious Studies, Business Administration, Economics, Mass Communications, and Psychology. 28 All political science courses are intentionally designed without any pre-requisites. The 2003 General Education Curriculum introduced to the college the ‘cluster’ as a requirement for graduation. The student must complete a cluster outside their major area of study. Thus, a business major must complete a cluster in the fine arts, humanities or sciences. A cluster typically includes three courses with at least one course at the 300 or 400 level. The Political Science Department deliberately has a very strong presence offering four clusters in the areas of Citizenship, American Politics, Legal Studies, and World Politics. Enrollment data demonstrates that students that meet the learning outcomes in the 100 level offerings POLS 147 and POLS 160 are often choosing to complete another course in political science or a cluster to fulfill their general education requirement. 29 Thus, while the 300 and 400 level courses have a pre-requisite, most of the non-majors that choose the cluster in political science have completed a course at the 100 or 200 level. For example, in the fall 2007 in the United States Constitution course, POLS/HIST 448, of four of the ten students enrolled were non-majors. Of the four non-major students, 3 had completed the Introduction to United States Law course (POLS 277). This indicates, at the very least, that from the choices available to the non-majors across the college curriculum, it appears that students that successfully complete a course in political science at the 100 or 200 level choose to take at least one additional course in the department. Morningside’s enrollment has increased dramatically over the last four years. While this trend is apparent in many areas across campus, enrollment data suggests that the greater enrollment in these gateway courses has encouraged an average of 20-25% of the students to take a second course in POLS. In some cases, political science becomes their second major. The Political Science program incorporates a variety of pedagogies and applied projects to introduce students to the value of our program offerings. In addition to more traditional research, selected courses require service learning projects and group research projects. All these projects are developmentally designed and highly structured. The increased number of non-major students makes it essential that the instructor closely monitor student progress. These practices translate in an overall increase in the quality of the final product and thus better grades. The students have multiple opportunities to engage in collaborative learning, an approach that focuses on problem-solving and processes. These pedagogies break up the class routine without sacrificing learning. 27 While we agree with Ishiyama and Haartlaub (2003) that there are significant benefits associated with both a structured and sequential political science major, our enrollment realities require us to create that structure through intentional advising for our majors. Given the lack of pre-requisites which permit non-majors to enroll in our classes, we endeavor to advise sequential progress through the major. All required courses in the major are offered by the political scientists in the department. They also advise most majors. Also see a short description of the major in Appendix F. 28 For example, in fall 2008 the department of Mass Communications will cross list a course in Political Communications. 29 See Table 2.1. Lopez & McKinlay, 13

Authors: Lopez, Lillian. and McKinlay, Patrick.
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and International Relations. The curriculum is very structured.
We strongly believe that all
graduates must complete core courses in the discipline to be best positioned for future graduate
work. The department also seeks opportunities across campus for horizontal integration of
elective courses for our students. Our colleagues in History deliver a variety of upper level
courses, most of which are cross-listed in HIST. Additionally, our students can complete
electives from cross-listed courses offered in the departments of Religious Studies, Business
Administration, Economics, Mass Communications, and Psychology.
All political science courses are intentionally designed without any pre-requisites. The
2003 General Education Curriculum introduced to the college the ‘cluster’ as a requirement for
graduation. The student must complete a cluster outside their major area of study. Thus, a
business major must complete a cluster in the fine arts, humanities or sciences. A cluster
typically includes three courses with at least one course at the 300 or 400 level. The Political
Science Department deliberately has a very strong presence offering four clusters in the areas of
Citizenship, American Politics, Legal Studies, and World Politics. Enrollment data demonstrates
that students that meet the learning outcomes in the 100 level offerings POLS 147 and POLS 160
are often choosing to complete another course in political science or a cluster to fulfill their
general education requirement.
Thus, while the 300 and 400 level courses have a pre-requisite,
most of the non-majors that choose the cluster in political science have completed a course at the
100 or 200 level. For example, in the fall 2007 in the United States Constitution course,
POLS/HIST 448, of four of the ten students enrolled were non-majors. Of the four non-major
students, 3 had completed the Introduction to United States Law course (POLS 277). This
indicates, at the very least, that from the choices available to the non-majors across the college
curriculum, it appears that students that successfully complete a course in political science at the
100 or 200 level choose to take at least one additional course in the department.
Morningside’s enrollment has increased dramatically over the last four years. While this
trend is apparent in many areas across campus, enrollment data suggests that the greater
enrollment in these gateway courses has encouraged an average of 20-25% of the students to
take a second course in POLS. In some cases, political science becomes their second major.
The Political Science program incorporates a variety of pedagogies and applied projects
to introduce students to the value of our program offerings. In addition to more traditional
research, selected courses require service learning projects and group research projects. All these
projects are developmentally designed and highly structured. The increased number of non-major
students makes it essential that the instructor closely monitor student progress. These practices
translate in an overall increase in the quality of the final product and thus better grades. The
students have multiple opportunities to engage in collaborative learning, an approach that
focuses on problem-solving and processes. These pedagogies break up the class routine without
sacrificing learning.
27
While we agree with Ishiyama and Haartlaub (2003) that there are significant benefits associated with both a
structured and sequential political science major, our enrollment realities require us to create that structure through
intentional advising for our majors. Given the lack of pre-requisites which permit non-majors to enroll in our
classes, we endeavor to advise sequential progress through the major. All required courses in the major are offered
by the political scientists in the department. They also advise most majors. Also see a short description of the major
in Appendix F.
28
For example, in fall 2008 the department of Mass Communications will cross list a course in Political
Communications.
29
See Table 2.1.
Lopez & McKinlay, 13


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