POLSC221 Course content


I am not sure if this is the proper place for course feedback… but here it goes anyway…

One of the Learning Outcomes" for Unit 1 is “Evaluate if normative theory has a place in comparative political inquiry.”

However in the course text the only place where normative is mentioned says;

“Models can also be descriptive, predictive, or normative. Descriptive models are
frequently used for representing complex systems, for visualizing variables and relationships in
such systems. An advertising expenditure model may be a descriptive model. Predictive
models (e.g., a regression model) allow forecast of future events. Weather forecasting models
are predictive models. Normative models are used to guide our activities along commonly
accepted norms or practices. Models may also be static if it represents the state of a system at
one point in time, or dynamic, if it represents a system’s evolution over time.”

This is not enough information to fulfill the learning outcome. A satisfactory answer can be googled, but it is well outside of the course context. If this is a learning outsome it seems it should be covered in the course text.


It’s a good spot to give other students and opportunity to chime in! For specific needs or a quick turnaround, you can also contact us directly.

After a quick cmd + f search through the U1 materials, I’d tend to agree that I’d like more information on normative theories to support some critical thinking on whether they’d impair or help in comparative political analysis.

Pitching this over to the Ed team…

The quote in the first post is from the Social Science Research text.

@tanner @natethompson


I agree. It’s important that we properly characterize what students who successfully take and pass POLSC221 will know and be able to do at the end of the course. Actually, same for all of our courses and their outcomes. We neither want to promise to teach something we know we can’t or aren’t teaching in the course content, nor do we want to assess learning that we know hasn’t been taught in the course.

A subject-matter expert who reviewed POLSC221 felt the same way about the “Evaluate if normative theory has a place in comparative political inquiry” outcome. She said that this outcome is “non-standard” for this type of course, meaning it’s not typically taught among the other outcomes within this course or not typically taught at this level. The same expert reviewer commented that there is neither content nor any assessment question which supports this outcome.

I am reluctantly removing the outcome from the course. I believe the spirit of the outcome is important for the study of comparative politics. It’s an outcome which would allow us to be able to talk about the validity/value of questions (not necessarily their answers) like, “Which form of governance is best?”, “What type of economic organization will lead to the best economic outcomes and for whom?”, “What cultural values hasten or impede progress?”

But we haven’t executed it well enough in this course, so it needs to come out.