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Serving the Greater Good: Delivering General Education Outcomes in a Small Liberal Arts College
Unformatted Document Text:  Serving the Greater Good: Delivering General Education Outcomes in a Small Liberal Arts College Introduction A small liberal arts college presents challenges and opportunities to teach non-majors in lower and upper division courses. Convinced that political science courses enhance any academic program, and particularly pre-professional programs, the department selected and redesigned courses to serve double duty: discipline specific and general education requirements. This paper examines the re-design of several courses to meet methodological needs of majors while making the courses accessible to non-majors. Focusing on several courses, we evaluate the successes and areas of improvement of different learning techniques in lower and upper division courses from across the sub-disciplines in political science to meet the developmental learning outcomes of majors and non-majors. Finally, we examine assessment data collected to measure student learning for both general college learning outcomes as well as to meet specific disciplinary outcomes. In the spirit of “serving the greater good,” we argue that the difficulties associated with offering courses for multiple student constituencies has actually afforded substantial benefits for the College as well as for the program in political science. Background The History and Political Science Department at Morningside College provides a strong presence in the General Education Curriculum: students may fulfill some of their general education requirements in lower and upper level political science courses. The departmental offerings are greatly driven by the last curricular and personnel changes at Morningside College. The new teaching load reduced the number of credit-hours a faculty person teaches from 24 to 20 hours per academic year. Additionally, almost all courses across campus changed from 3 to 4 credit-hours. 1 In 2003, the College adopted a new General Education Curriculum designed to meet a College-wide set of student learning outcomes inspired by the College mission and vision statements. 2 These outcomes are infused in the overall curricular design. Some outcomes were assigned to the majors to address, while others are intended to be shared across the curriculum. The curriculum placed a strong focus on the first year experience, giving special attention to the level of preparation many students come to college with (or as it often happens without). The political science faculty adopted a new curricular model for the major that is also outcomes-driven. With the adoption of this new curriculum, POLS 247 Introduction to American Government was reincarnated as POLS 147 US Government. In addition, POLS 160 World Politics was re-tooled to address the College outcomes as well as to meet other elements of the General Education Curriculum. 1 Most courses in the History and Political Science Department were already designed as four credit-hour courses when the 2003 curriculum was adopted. 2 See Appendix A, “Morningside College Learning Outcomes.” Lopez & McKinlay, 2

Authors: Lopez, Lillian. and McKinlay, Patrick.
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Serving the Greater Good:
Delivering General Education Outcomes in a Small Liberal Arts College
Introduction
A small liberal arts college presents challenges and opportunities to teach non-majors in
lower and upper division courses. Convinced that political science courses enhance any
academic program, and particularly pre-professional programs, the department selected and
redesigned courses to serve double duty: discipline specific and general education requirements.
This paper examines the re-design of several courses to meet methodological needs of majors
while making the courses accessible to non-majors. Focusing on several courses, we evaluate the
successes and areas of improvement of different learning techniques in lower and upper division
courses from across the sub-disciplines in political science to meet the developmental learning
outcomes of majors and non-majors. Finally, we examine assessment data collected to measure
student learning for both general college learning outcomes as well as to meet specific
disciplinary outcomes. In the spirit of “serving the greater good,” we argue that the difficulties
associated with offering courses for multiple student constituencies has actually afforded
substantial benefits for the College as well as for the program in political science.
Background
The History and Political Science Department at Morningside College provides a strong
presence in the General Education Curriculum: students may fulfill some of their general
education requirements in lower and upper level political science courses. The departmental
offerings are greatly driven by the last curricular and personnel changes at Morningside College.
The new teaching load reduced the number of credit-hours a faculty person teaches from 24 to 20
hours per academic year. Additionally, almost all courses across campus changed from 3 to 4
credit-hours.
In 2003, the College adopted a new General Education Curriculum designed to meet a
College-wide set of student learning outcomes inspired by the College mission and vision
statements.
These outcomes are infused in the overall curricular design. Some outcomes were
assigned to the majors to address, while others are intended to be shared across the curriculum.
The curriculum placed a strong focus on the first year experience, giving special attention to the
level of preparation many students come to college with (or as it often happens without). The
political science faculty adopted a new curricular model for the major that is also outcomes-
driven. With the adoption of this new curriculum, POLS 247 Introduction to American
Government was reincarnated as POLS 147 US Government. In addition, POLS 160 World
Politics was re-tooled to address the College outcomes as well as to meet other elements of the
General Education Curriculum.
1
Most courses in the History and Political Science Department were already designed as four credit-hour courses
when the 2003 curriculum was adopted.
2
See Appendix A, “Morningside College Learning Outcomes.”
Lopez & McKinlay, 2


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