Are We Teaching them Anything?: A Model for Measuring Methodology Skills in the Political Science Major
Curriculum and Instruction
Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research
Higher Education and Teaching
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AbstractWhile the literature emphasizes the importance of teaching political science students methods skills, there currently exists little guidance for how to assess student learning over the course of their time in the major. To address this gap, we develop a model set of assessment tools that may be adopted and adapted by political science departments to evaluate the effect of their own methods instruction. The model includes a syllabi analysis, evaluation of capstone (senior) papers, and a transcript analysis. We apply these assessment tools to our own department to examine whether students demonstrate a range of basic-to-advanced methodological skills. Our results support the conclusion that students at our institution are learning methodological skills, but that there is room for improvement. Additionally, the results support others’ conclusions regarding the importance of an integrative approach to methods instruction. For those in the discipline seeking to understand the effect of methods instruction on student performance, this model can be easily replicated to assess student learning.