Whither the Political Science Major? Curricular Design and Program Learning Outcomes at 110 US Colleges and Universities

Whither the Political Science Major? Curricular Design and Program Learning Outcomes at 110 US Colleges and Universities

By Maureen Feeley, University of California, San Diego and Renée Van Vechten, University of Redlands

The American Political Science Association’s (APSA) last significant review of undergraduate political science education, the 1991 Wahlke Report, advanced 12 recommendations to strengthen political science programs nationwide. This article focuses on two recommendations that subsequently have been supported by a large body of research: (1) that programs provide for “sequential learning,” and (2) that they engage in a learning outcomes approach to curricular design and assessment (Wahlke 1991, 55–56). Given the growing evidence that these approaches result in stronger learning outcomes for political science majors (Bergbower 2017; Breuning, Parker, and Ishiyama 2001; Deardorff, Hamann, and Ishiyama 2009; Hinckley, McGuire, and Danforth 2019; Ishiyama 2005b; Ishiyama and Hartlaub 2003), this study examines the extent to which political science programs have incorporated these recommendations nationally.

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