B.A. English SACS Outcomes
Catalog Program Description:
The English language and literature curriculum is designed to improve students' skills in writing, critical reading, and thinking; to enrich their cultural experience; and to prepare them for all professions requiring a high level of expression, imagination, and intellectual activity, including creative writing, editing, teaching, law, politics, and management.
The English BA curriculum is the responsibility of the department's BA Curriculum Committee, and implemented primarily by the BA adviser and the department chairperson.
English BA Program Outcomes:
- Increase enrollment and graduation rates by creating additional concentrations in Professional Communication and Dramatic Arts.
- Improve departmental life and increase cultural/social opportunities for English majors.
- Revise and simplify BA curriculum to be more responsive to student goals and interests.
- Continue to upgrade classroom technology.
The department relies on a committee structure to review and assess curricular, technological, and other goals, in consultation with the department chair. The Undergraduate Studies, Classroom Technology, and Outreach/Programming Committees are primarily responsible for reviewing areas relevant to these BA program goals. Goals 1 and 2 are measured quantitatively, by enrollment/graduation numbers and by the number of cultural events and opportunities, respectively. Goal 4 is assessed in terms of how many of the six English classrooms are fully equipped with multimedia equipment (updated periodically to meet changing needs and technologies). Goal 3 is monitored primarily by means of the exit interview of graduating seniors.
Assessment and results, by goal:
- Enrollment in the English BA has declined from a high of approximately 75 in the mid 1990s to about 50 in 2005. The new concentration in Writing/Language/Genre has not yet improved those numbers, though enrollments in upper-division English courses have increased 18 percent over the past two springs. To attract more majors and to add value to the program for current majors, the Undergraduate Studies Committee is drafting a curricular proposal to add these two concentrations (PC and Drama) to the two current concentrations. The TBR approved the preliminary Letter of Intent in December 2005. Enrollments in the two new concentrations, and overall English BA enrollment, will be monitored to assess the success of this goal.
- A revision in the department's Mitchum Endowment for classroom technology, approved by the donor in spring 2005, makes available $4000-6000 annually for student activities within the department. An annual fall reception for all majors and a spring luncheon for graduating seniors have been established through this fund. Theatrical and other cultural trips are also planned for the spring.
- This goal is also addressed in the process described under item 1. The exit interview of graduating seniors has also indicated a strong interest in more single-author and thematic courses. In response, a new course in the graphic novel has been formulated. Also in response to a need suggested by the exit interview results, this fall the foreign language requirement was streamlined to conform with the national standard for English BA programs, requiring foreign language proficiency equivalent to four semesters of college study.
- Four of six classrooms were equipped with multimedia technology by the start of the fall 2005. An additional classroom was equipped in December 2005. The sixth classroom used in the BA program will be equipped in May 2006. (Thereafter, components will be updated periodically.) The improvement of classroom technology has already led to a much broader use of multimedia materials and methods in BA program courses.
English BA Learning Outcomes:
- Students will demonstrate the capacity to write and speak clearly, read perceptively, and think critically.
- Students will demonstrate understanding of historical traditions in British and American literature.
- Students will demonstrate understanding of how written and spoken language expresses diverse cultural experiences.
- Students will demonstrate understanding of the functions and historical development of the English language.
- ETS Major Field Achievement Test: Literature in English (all graduating seniors)
- College Base exam (all graduating seniors)
- Exit interviews (all graduating seniors)
- Five-year external program review
Assessment and results, by goal:
- After experimenting with a portfolio system of assessment in the mid-1990s, the department decided to rely instead on results of the Major Field and College Base exams. The College Base exam indicates that this goal is being achieved, with 100% of English BA seniors tested scoring in the medium-to-high range in the areas of critical and analytical reading. ETS results have also been consistent at or above national averages. The most significant improvement in response to recent external program reviews (2002) has been the establishment of distinct BA concentrations in Literature and in Writing/Language/Genre. As of early spring term 2005, English BA majors have been choosing the literature and writing (called "Writing/Language/Genre") concentrations in roughly equivalent numbers (currently 25 literature, 23 writing). To improve assessment of writing, speaking, reading, and thinking outcomes, the new BA curricula described above (see Program Outcome 1) include a senior seminar (i.e. "capstone" course) that will specifically assess our students' capacity in each of these areas as they complete the program.
- In 1999, in response to below-average scores in later British Literature on the ETS exam, a two-semester British Literature sequence was created for majors, instead of relying on the general education British surveys intended primarily for non-majors. This mirrors the approach for American literature, where scores have been better. Unfortunately, the ETS exam no longer provides British literature subscores, making the effect of this improvement hard to measure; a new assessment method will be needed.
- College Base scores indicate that English BA seniors score above average in all areas of the Social Studies areas, indicating an understanding of national and world cultures. To address this outcome the department in 2001 created a required block in Cultural Studies, so that all students will have coursework in an area such as non-western, European, or Native American literature. Assessment will be improved by the proposed capstone course with its project-driven syllabus, and a requirement that those projects demonstrate an understanding of the cultural range of literature and language. The introductory course required of all majors, ENGL 3000, was also expanded in recent years and includes a significant treatment of literary theory and cultural studies. Recent exit interviews with graduating seniors indicate a need to pursue extracurricular activities that will enhance cultural understanding and engagement.
- College Base results in areas measuring knowledge of writing conventions and processes indicate that this goal is being met. An area of possible weakness is indicated in the processes subscore, where almost 25 percent of seniors tested scored in the low range (a total of three students). The adding of new courses in rhetoric and composition to the BA curriculum with the 2002 revision has so far not improved this result, which in any case may not statistically significant given the low numbers (10 medium to high; 3 low).