NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Back to results
ERIC Number: ED519824
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 215
Abstractor: As Provided
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1242-6518-6
Assessing the Discipline: Aligning Curricular Structures and Student Learning with Disciplinary Goals in Political Science
Desmond, Katie
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Northern Arizona University
Four identifiable disciplinary goals can be discerned from the development of political science as a discipline. These goals indicate that political science students will (1) attain knowledge about political systems (national and international); (2) gain an understanding of how politics works; (3) develop critical thinking skills; and, (4) learn to be "good citizens" (or the idea of "education for citizenship") through civic education. Assessing the presence of these goals in political science curriculum and student learning affords the discipline an opportunity to participate in renewed conversations about teaching and learning in higher education, to extol its strengths as a discipline, and to contribute to assessment processes. This research uses content analysis and survey research methodologies to examine curricular alignment to disciplinary goals. The study analyzes curriculum from 41 political science departments chosen from a query of Carnegie Foundation's classification of higher education institutions. The study also includes an in depth case study of curricular strategies employed by one institution. While looking at the relationship between student learning alignment and disciplinary goals, this research utilizes a quasi-experimental methodology involving a survey of political science students at a variety of education institutions. This study shows that political science curriculum and student learning is most strongly aligned to the first three disciplinary goals and less aligned to the fourth disciplinary goal. Political science students are often directed through courses that establish foundational knowledge of politics and political systems/processes. Student attainment of knowledge of politics and political systems/process is evident in the survey results. Political science curriculum often emphasizes critical thinking, confirmed by student reporting of their political science coursework experience. Civic education appears less frequently in the stated goals of political science courses, and political science departments. Despite the interest in civic education as a student learning goal, the infrequency of this goal in political science curriculum and student learning is noteworthy. This study concludes by recommending that political science educators further engage in conversations about the goals of their discipline. This conversation can contribute to greater self-examination, change. and disciplinary revitalization. It can also strengthen the effectiveness of political science departments in educating students. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A