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Department Programs

Political Science Department Rhetoric Program

The Political Science Department has a tradition of emphasizing writing skills in all of its courses, and alumni surveys consistently suggest that the use of effective communication – especially written and oral communication – is one of the most valuable outcomes of our curriculum. To this end, all our courses require significant written work in a variety of forms, as the Political Science Department Writing Program (drafted in 1997) described. However, with the encouragement of the RAC Advisory Board and in conjunction with a recent curriculum revision, the Department has decided to revise and update its Rhetoric Program to reflect pedagogical developments, the new structure of its curriculum, and the more explicit inclusion of oral and visual rhetoric in the scope of the College Rhetoric Program. We believe that this revised version of our writing program will be more effective in developing the talents of our students – both majors and non-majors – so that they can be effective agents of redemption and renewal.

Rationale for the Revisions

The Political Science Department is undertaking this overhaul of its rhetoric program and assignments for the following reasons:

  • We want to provide clearer guidance for new and current faculty members regarding the kind and number of writing assignments expected in courses of different levels, so as to establish more uniform expectations concerning the work load of students at different points in the major.
  • We want to give our majors an overview of the goals of both the Political Science and International Relations major with respect to writing, speaking, and visual rhetoric competence. Students will have a clearer sense of the expectations for their written work at various points in their major, and a better grasp of the feedback opportunities they will encounter.
  • We want to integrate more effectively the elements of oral and visual rhetoric in our teaching, so that our majors will be equipped with these tools when they enter the workplace.
  • We want to integrate the assessment of written, oral, and visual rhetoric in our departmental assessment program.

I. Compliance with the goals of the College Rhetoric Program

The following table describes the typical type, length, frequency, and feedback methods for writing assignments in various types of courses:

Courses

Types of Assignments

Number of Assignments

Number of Pages (total)

Feedback and Assessment

POLS 101

Reflection/Response papers; Policy presentations; Comparative case studies; Written examinations

3 or more

16–20

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics; Peer evaluation

POLS 110

Brief analytical papers; Written examinations

2 or more

12–16

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics;

POLS 207, 214

Homework assignments; Reflection/Response papers; In-depth case studies; Comparative case studies; Research papers; Presentations

4 or more

16–20

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics

POLS 240

Reflection/Response papers; Analytical papers; Written examinations

4 or more

12–16

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics

POLS 251

Homework assignments; Intensive research project; Presentations

3 or more

20–24

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics; Peer evaluation

POLS 202, 208, 209, 212, 218, 228, 234, 237

Reflection/Response papers; Policy analysis; In-depth case studies; Comparative case studies; Presentations; Written examinations

4 or more

16–20

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics; Peer evaluation

POLS 276, 277, 279

Intensive research project; Written examinations

2 or more

16–20

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics

POLS 301, 304, 307, 309, 318, 319, 321, 322

Policy analysis; In-depth case studies; Comparative case studies; Research projects; Policy analysis; Presentations; Written examinations

4 or more

16–20

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics

POLS 306, 310

Analytical papers; Written examinations

3 or more

10–12

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts; Optional rubrics

POLS 380

Reflection/Response papers

3 or more

10–16

Direct feedback

POLS 390

Reflection/Response papers; Annotated bibliographies; Intensive research project

1 or more

12–24

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts

POLS 399

Reflection/Response papers; Intensive research project

3 or more

16–24

Prior/Subsequent feedback; Returned drafts

II. Faculty awareness and development

  1. The Political Science Department will make this document available to students and faculty on its departmental website.
  2. The Political Science Department will encourage all its faculty members to review the Departmental Rhetoric Program in advance of preparing syllabi, in designing assignments, and in advising.

III. Assessment

The Political Science Department will set aside one meeting per year to discuss the department's progress in achieving the goals laid out in this document. Every five years the department will review the program in conjunction with the department’s regular assessment practices.

 

Revised December 2014.