by Thomas Mach, Chair of Department of History and Government
Cedarville University is committed to program assessment and continuous improvement in all of its programs. To insure the quality of our programs, we regularly solicit input from students and assess key indicators that demonstrate how well our students master the objectives set up for each program. In addition, the university requires an in-depth review of each program every five years.
The assessment results and the program reviews that have been completed in the last three years have shown us a need in the area of improving the quality of the capstone project experience. Most of our programs have a single semester capstone project which has traditionally resulted in very fine results. Graduates told us, however, that the single semester project was pretty stressful and they would have preferred more time to work on their capstones. As a result, several programs built into earlier courses some time for students to begin working on their capstone projects. For example, in History, we asked students to develop a research plan and write an historiographical essay in the Introduction to Historiography course, which is usually taken the semester before the capstone. This helped to some degree, but did not address all of the concerns.
This year the department has done an extensive review of all of its programs and has decided to introduce two new courses to help prepare students for, and give them a head start on, their capstone research projects. The courses are entitled Quantitative Methodology and Qualitative Methodology and Reasoning. These two courses will replace the combined Data Analysis and Research Methods course found in several majors.
The expansion of hours from 4 to a total of 6 will increase the size of some majors, but we believe this change will afford students additional time to get started on their capstones earlier and provide them with additional instruction on how to best complete those important projects. In some cases, the program revisions have allowed students to choose between the two methodology courses, giving students more options to tailor their program to their vocational or educational interests.
The department is very pleased with these revisions and believes that the new courses will help prepare students better for both the capstone and what lies ahead after graduation. In addition, the revisions should help students have more time to complete the senior project and demonstrate their best work in this capstone experience. Considering the quality we have seen to date from our seniors, the sky is the limit!