2016-2017 Catalog

Writing in the Discipline - Political Science/Public Administration


Minimum Requirements 

Political Science majors learn to write for the Political Science discipline in POL 308 Current Political Controversy. The course is required for all Political Science majors. POL 202 American Government is the prerequisite course. The audience is sophomores and juniors. By completing the course Political Science majors are prepared to fulfill the Political Science requirement that students take two upper division courses that require research papers. This course cannot be used to meet the requirements of General Education. 


Written Communication Learning Outcome 

The expected outcome is that students will understand the different purposes of writing in the discipline and employ the conventions of writing in their major fields. Students will produce writing that is well organized, supported by evidence, demonstrates correct usage of grammar and terminology, and is appropriate within an academic context. 


The following course objectives listed in the course syllabus of POL 308 meets the Written Communication Learning Outcome: 

  • To teach students how to undertake political research using library and internet sources; 
  • To provide students the opportunity to write different types of papers commonly found in Political Science undergraduate curriculums: traditional research papers; issue reaction and opinion papers; policy memorandums; legal opinions; public opinion survey analysis; book reviews. 
  • To provide the opportunity for students to witness improvement in their writing by requiring multiple drafts of selected papers, each draft submitted for critical evaluation by instructor. 
  • To provide more information about topics of critical importance in the United States today. 

Writing Instruction explicitly included in the course requirements 

Portfolio Requirements and Grading Value contained in the course syllabus: 

  • Attendance, participation, and timely submission of homework and all assignments. (10 percent) 
  • A personal political biography (2-3 pages) (10 percent) (2 drafts) 
  • Issue Reaction Paper (3 pages) (15 percent) (Public Debate) (2 drafts) 
  • Reflective Book Review (2-3 pages) (10 percent) (Group discussion) (2 drafts) 
  • A completed public opinion survey with analysis (in Group) (5 pages) (10 percent) (with Group Presentation) (Tables and Graphs) (1 Draft plus clean up option) 
  • A Policy Memorandum: 5 pages (20 percent) that incorporates legal analysis (Roundtable discussion: Cabinet Style) (1 Draft with “clean-up” option) 
  • Traditional Research paper (10 pages) (25 percent) with an 8 item annotated bibliography to accompany the paper with outline; 2 drafts 

The Political Science department adopted a basic writing rubric that is used in evaluating papers written in this course. That rubric is attached. It addresses each of the Written Communication elements listed by COGE: writing that is well-organized, supported by evidence, demonstrates correct usage of grammar and technology, and is appropriate to the Political Science academic context. 


Required Text

Schmidt, Diane E., Writing in Political Science: A Practical Guide (4th ed.) Pearson Education: Longman, 2010. This text contains examples of each of the types of writing assignments required in the class. 


Desirable Attributes 


Role of Writing, Outcome and the Nature of Learning in the Discipline 

Writing is a central element in the Political Science discipline. One of our assessment goals is to work to improve our student writing. We see writing as a developmental process. Students learn to critically read, think and write in a coherent manner over time when given time to practice and to receive feedback. The department also recognizes the linkage between effective reading and effective writing therefore students read a variety of material for the course and are required to use those readings to develop their writing assignments. Students are required to find and use the following secondary and primary sources: Articles in academic and political opinion journals, academic and popular press literature, newspaper editorials, Supreme Court opinions; opinion surveys, and government executive and legislative documents. 


The department writing outcome goal is for students to satisfy the “meets expectations” requirements of the department writing rubric. Political Science students upon graduation can be expected to attend law school or graduate school where sound writing is expected. Those who choose to enter the world of work often seek out public service or managerial level positions, many of which require quality writing. By meeting the rubric expectation students will have demonstrated the ability to critically read and write that will assist them in the path they choose. 


POL 308 socializes students to expect to write more than one draft of papers and to receive faculty feedback following each draft in courses that require formal writing assignments. That feedback focuses on understanding of the topic (academic context), the paper’s organization, use of evidence, and clear and correct grammar, spelling and similar writing basics. 


Political Science majors must complete two courses requiring research papers after completing POL 308. These designated courses require the completion of a major research paper that is a minimum 10 pages in length; that requires the student to develop an answerable question; that requires the student to read appropriate secondary literature within the Political Science Discipline and where necessary primary sources; and that requires proper source citations and bibliographic entries. At least two drafts of a paper are permitted and reviewed using the department writing rubric. 


Those courses are: 

POL 301 Foundations of Public Administration 

POL 306 State and Local Government 

POL 307 Political Behavior 

POL 309 Women in Politics 

POL 331 Courts and Public Policy 

POL 333 Law and Politics of Civil Rights 

POL 342 Politics of Global Economic Change 

POL 346 Foreign Policy 

POL 353 Parties and Elections 

POL 354 Interest Group Politics 

POL 355 Policy Formation Process 

POL 359 Politics and the Media 



Approved by the Committee on General Education November 9, 2012