There are many measures of the accomplishments of our outcomes. First, faculty openings are advertised nationally to assure receiving a highly qualified applicant pool from which to choose new departmental members. Faculty members maintain a teaching portfolio to demonstrate the highest teaching standards. Their performance is evaluated annually with special attention in the third year and during the tenure and promotion processes. All tenured faculty members are reviewed every five years to identify possible weaknesses in their teaching and research activities and to allow them the opportunity to correct perceived deficiencies in teaching or research.
Faculty members in the department hold students to high standards in assessing their performance in achieving the learning outcomes. Students must pass examinations measuring the achievement of learning outcomes in every course. Their research projects are carefully examined to assure that students have learned the proper method of gathering and presenting data and are able to relate their findings to the theories of their courses. Majors of all undergraduate degree programs are required to take at least one technical skill course in Area F of the core. The approved courses all provide computer literacy adequate for political science/planning. The list includes: ACCT 2102, CISM 2201, CS 1030, CS 1301, and MATH 2063. Other courses may be accepted if the syllabus indicates inclusion of the necessary computer skills. Students in the two graduate programs are required to complete methods courses relevant to their programs. These also teach requisite computer skills.
All undergraduate majors must successfully complete the senior seminar where any deficiencies regarding learning outcomes of the programs are measured and corrected before graduation. Majors complete an exit survey in which they identify any perceived deficiencies in the program requirements and course offerings. Alumni received mailed questionnaires in which they were asked to provide information concerning their post-graduate activities and to identify the perceived strengths and weaknesses of their degree programs and courses. In response to exit and alumni surveys, the department will be adding a new major course on computer applications appropriate for all of its programs. The department chair attends the annual meeting of the Regents Advisory Committee to consult with political science faculty at sister institutions to assure that West Georgia's programs are comparable to theirs.
Student and Alumni evaluations of our programs, as measured by exit surveys for each program and mailed questionnaires, continue to be high. Students perceive that they are receiving relevant courses and accurate and up-to-date information within their classes. The Department Chair has been reviewing the data collected from the surveys and teaching evaluations annually to close the loop between assessment and adjustment of course offerings and learning outcomes. Starting in 2004, the Public Administration and Planning faculty will meet every fall semester to formally review assessment data on the graduate programs. The undergraduate faculty will meet at the beginning of every spring semester to review undergraduate assessment data. Any needed adjustments in the programs will then have time to be approved for the next year.
In accordance with alumni recommendations, the Graduate faculty decided to improve the quality of core courses in the Master of Public Administration Program by upgrading them to the 6000 level. Moreover, new classes were added to reflect recent developments in the field. These classes at the 6000 level will also be beneficial for the doctoral candidates in the College of Education. The M.P.A. program has also been altered to give students more flexibility in core courses. Changes in the MPA exit paper requirement were completed last year and took effect this academic year. In-service students now devote only three-credit hours to the exit paper. This change allows them twelve hours of course work in their elective track. Pre-service students may now choose between three or six credits for the internship/exit paper. The guidelines for the exit paper have been thoroughly revised and are provided together with program requirements and deadlines to incoming majors at an annual orientation session.
We shall be able to address more of the perceived shortcomings by adding courses covering European nations taught by Professor Mbaye and by adding the upper division/graduate course covering computer applications for the political science, public administration and planning majors. The M.P.A. faculty is developing certificate programs to upgrade the skills of government workers who do not wish to enroll in our regular graduate programs.