The Department of English regularly assesses its curriculum in the composition program, undergraduate English major, and graduate programs.
Since fall 2011, the composition program has been conducting an ongoing formal assessment of six English department courses: ENG 1010, ENG 1020, ENG 3010, ENG 3020, ENG 3050, and ENG 3060.
In addition to evaluating hundreds of student projects, assessment has also been performed via focus groups with instructors and students, syllabi analysis, and print and electronic surveys. The Composition Assessment Committee takes primary responsibility for the coordination of assessment activities, and assessment data is used to structure the activities of the Composition Executive Committee, the Composition Curriculum Committee, and the Composition Mentoring Committee. The Composition Research Committee has also been executing original research on improving the efficiency and statistical reliability of writing assessment methods.
The most recent and significant curricular changes influenced by assessment results are the revision of course learning outcomes and the introduction of new assignment sequences for all six of the above courses in fall 2015. Program faculty also drafted new textbook materials for three of the above courses (ENG 1010, ENG 1020, and ENG 3010), which have become required texts in all sections of these courses. The impact of these changes will continue to be assessed throughout AY (academic year) 2016/17.
To assess the efficacy of our curriculum in the English major, the Undergraduate Studies (UGS) Committee annually reviews a random sample of anonymous papers written in our capstone course, the Senior Seminar (ENG 5992/4991). Using a rubric derived from our learning goals, the committee evaluates each work and from that, establishes areas of overall strength and weakness in student achievement. After this assessment, the committee selects one aspect of student learning to improve in the following year. The AY 2015/16 area of focus was close reading skills. The UGS met with English department faculty to discuss these results and develop a plan for improvement, which included making changes to course outcomes, modifying the size of classes, developing specific curricular units, and sharing teaching materials.
Learning goals for the English major
Students will be able to describe, explicate, analyze, comprehend, and explain literary, media, and/or rhetorical works.
Students will be able to write logical and compelling essays that demonstrate fluency in close reading, clarity in analysis and argumentation, and sophistication in critical thinking, reflecting broad knowledge of a range of literary and cultural topics and methods. (NB: By "sophistication," we mean nuance, complexity, and reflexivity.)
Students will be able to search for, identify, and evaluate pertinent primary and secondary sources in both print and digital formats; identify, define, and use field-appropriate research methods as well as theoretical and interpretive frames; and integrate, with appropriate citation, sources, methods, and theories into original arguments.
Students will be able to demonstrate familiarity with literary and cultural production from a range of communities and cultures; to make connections among diverse historical eras, genres, styles, forms, theories, and techniques; and to situate works within their historical and cultural contexts.
Graduate program (M.A.)
The Graduate Committee of the Department of English has undertaken assessments of learning for the M.A. in English program. Our efforts began in October of 2014 and have included the writing of a program mission statement, program learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, revisions of our M.A. essay and thesis proposal forms, and department-wide discussions of specific assessments of M.A. essays. We also created and revised a rubric for the evaluation of M.A. essays. In light of our assessment and subsequent department discussion, we will revise program and course learning objectives to include an enhanced emphasis on argumentation.
Graduate program (Ph.D.)
The Graduate Committee of the Department of English has undertaken assessments of learning for the Ph.D. program. Our efforts began in October of 2014 and have included the writing of a program mission statement, program learning outcomes, course learning outcomes, and department-wide discussions of specific assessments Ph.D. written qualifying examinations. We created and revised a rubric for the assessment of qualifying examinations in English. We will continue to gather information about the qualifying examination in future assessment cycles.