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Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
A call to engagement at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) led to significant curricular and assessment changes in the university's Department of Political Science. The university unveiled the Year of the Department (YOTD) as "an ongoing strategic initiative for orchestrating change and aligning people, systems and culture at the basic unit level in the Division of Academic Affairs." The Year of the Department initiative drew from Massey's Honoring the Trust: Quality and Cost Containment in Higher Education (Massey, 2003), emphasizing: (1) Desired learning outcomes; (2) Design of curricula; (3) Design of the teaching and learning process; (4) Assessment of student learning; and (5) Use of results or feedback for improvement and quality assurance. YOTD offered a valuable framework for conducting the department's audit, aligning institutional and program goals, broadening perspectives on learning objectives, and changing both the curriculum and assessment methods. It is also important to note that the audit led to better communication. The rubrics help faculty communicate values, objectives, and performance standards to students. Students, likewise, use their portfolios to communicate with faculty. What makes the experience of FHSU's Department of Political Science different is that it focused not only on making changes to the department but also on providing meaningful feedback and capturing evidence of improvement at the student level.