Assessment Report 2009

Public Affairs

February 9, 2009

L. Purdy



  1. Executive summary:

Members of the major agreed to add a writing assessment, and to delay the reasoning assessment. We also agreed to keep a closer eye on when students enroll in required courses, and to revise comps to better reflect the goals of the major. We will also work on providing assessment materials for specific courses for our next report, for courses that will be of importance for the new Philosophy and Political Science majors.


  1. Summary of annual assessment review and planning meeting:

Prof. Lumumba-Kasongo and I met on February 3, 2009 (11:30am to 12:15) to discuss assessing the Public Affairs major. We agreed that this would not warrant too deep inquiry in light of the fact that Public Affairs will be deleted from the curriculum as soon as current students have completed the program.



  1. Plan for upcoming year

a.              Because of our concern about students’ writing skills, we decided that the highest priority for change should be more emphasis on writing. This will be achieved by asking students declaring the Public Affairs major to submit their best paper so far. Faculty will read it, and ask those who submitted weak papers (below B level) to take at least one course emphasizing writing and to take their paper to the Writing Center for advice about revising the paper to at least the B level. The revised paper is to be submitted at the end of the junior year. If it is still not satisfactory, the student will be asked to work more on it over the summer and resubmit at the beginning of fall semester. We may implement the reasoning assessment in a future year, depending on how long the major remains in existence.

b.              Significant numbers of students are enrolling “behind schedule” (according to our 2007 assessment plan) for key courses and/or earning less than B’s. We will concentrate on better advising to keep them on schedule, although to some extent this issue is beyond our control because transfer students often come in already behind. We are not sure what to do about poor grades as we do not control who enters the major.

c.              To encourage our seniors to think more broadly and globally about government and policy, and to utilize the tools they have acquired in various courses, we completely revamped the Comprehensive Examination. The questions now emphasize the application of what they have learned, rather than asking so many questions about past coursework. A copy of the new Comps is appended to this document.

d.             For our next assessment report, we will add examples of assessment measures for particular courses that will continue to exist once Public Affairs has been deleted.


  1. Updated assessment plan

See appended document.


  1. Data summary

Data came from gradesheets for relevant courses, course syllabi, and informal assessment of current seniors’ achievement in PUBL 401.


Public Affairs Comprehensive Examination Spring 2008