Curricular Initiatives: School of Diplomacy and International Relations
During the 2012-2013 academic year, the faculty of the School of Diplomacy decided to use the capstone courses from the MA and BS programs to conduct a general assessment of student learning outcomes covering many of the learning objectives for these programs. This assessment utilized the final papers from the Senior Research Project (DIPL 4101) and Masters Research Project (DIPL 6311) courses. Focus was placed on the outcomes listed under "knowledge and understanding" and under "skills." For both BS and MA programs, the student learning outcomes under "knowledge and understanding" included:demonstrating understanding of key concepts, models, theories and debates involved in the study of contemporary international relations and diplomacy; demonstrating an in-depth knowledge of a particular functional area and/or region of the world; demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the social science research process. Under "skills" the student learning outcomes included:collect, sort, and evaluate information; analyze complex situations and synthesize information; integrate different fields of study in analysis of a complex world; and communicate effectively in written form. The faculty agreed upon five standards and a rubric for each standard to assess these outcomes.
The evaluation of the MA students' learning outcomes reinforced our existing concern for the writing skills of the graduate students particularly, something we identified in the faculty retreats this year. The faculty has designated a Skills Committee to investigate how to incorporate professional skills better in our MA curriculum, with a particular focus on incorporating writing skills. The faculty has also begun a series of skills workshops, some of which focus on writing, such as the policy memo writing workshop. The evaluation of the BS students' learning outcomes reinforced our concerns with methods training. To address this deficit, the faculty prioritized the hiring of a new faculty member designated to teach methods courses and has approved a new undergraduate curriculum which reintroduces an undergraduate methods requirement. The faculty has also created an Assessment Committee to evaluate the current assessment instruments.