M.A. English SACS Outcomes

Catalog Program Description:

The Master of Arts degree program in English prepares graduates for success in further graduate and professional education that requires superior analytical and communication skills. It prepares them for Ph.D. programs in English by increasing their knowledge of literary history and by improving their skills in writing, literary analysis, and research. Graduates can become effective high school or college teachers by improving their knowledge of writing pedagogy and theory. They will also be prepared for careers outside the academic world wherever superior analytical and communication skills and knowledge of literary/cultural traditions are essential.

Program Oversight and Review:

The departmental Graduate Studies Committee is immediately responsible for oversight of the MA program. The committee is chaired by the Graduate Advisor, and includes the departmental chairperson. Curricular and policy decisions approved by the Graduate Studies Committee are brought for consideration to all departmental members of the Graduate Faculty.

Additionally, each student is supervised by a three-person advisory committee, all of whom must be full or associate members of the Graduate Faculty. The advisory committee is primarily responsible for assessing the learning outcomes of individual students, especially those most relevant to the thesis or project paper, and for evaluating the comprehensive examination and oral defense. Affirmative decisions of the advisory committee must be unanimous.

Every five years an external review is customarily undertaken by a senior faculty member at an institution with an English MA program comparable to TTU's. Though students are required to take the GRE general test, no standardized exit test scoring method is relevant to assessment of the Learning Outcomes of the MA program in English.

English MA Program Outcomes:

  1. Increase enrollment from TBR minimum annual requirement of 5 to 6-8 per year.
  2. Produce qualified college composition instructors, and well-prepared high school English teachers, to meet TTU and regional needs.
  3. Increase financial and other support for MA students
  4. Enhance student involvement and training in the Writing Center, with increased service to TTU students.

Assessment Methods and Results:

These goals are approved and reviewed by the department's Graduate Studies Committee, in consultation with the chairperson. Our most successful outcome thus far has been Outcome 1, with as many as 10 new MA graduates scheduled for the current academic year, exceeding our goal. This has been achieved in part through additional support (see Outcome 3). Outcome 2 may be assessed by the recent success of our graduates in finding employment in secondary and higher educational institutions -- recent MA graduates have found permanent positions at several high schools and middle schools, as well as community colleges and another university in the TBR system. For Outcome 3, we have identified two new sources of support for our MA students: assistantship support through the Institute for Technological Scholarship, and $1000-1500 annually from a new departmental scholarship endowment (Jenkins). Outcome 4 has been addressed by building more Writing Center hours into the graduate assistant work load, by shifting some away from classroom instruction, allowing more hours of operation and greater responsibility for the MA students. In the first semester with expanded hours, the Writing Center served 27% more students than during the previous semester.

English MA Learning Outcomes:

  1. Students will demonstrate a broad and integrated knowledge of literary history, theory, and pedagogy.
  2. Students will be prepared for success in Ph.D. programs in English.
  3. Students will be prepared for success in other areas of advanced graduate education.
  4. Students will be prepared for teaching careers in high schools and community colleges.
  5. Students will be prepared for careers outside academe that require advanced analytical and communication skills.

Assessment Methods and Results:

  1. This is is assessed primarily by means of the thesis and the project paper requirement, and by the comprehensive examination required of all MA students at the end of their coursework. A very high pass rate on the exam indicated success, but in response to the most recent external review, a change in the format was made to ensure that students could demonstrate more clearly an ability to demonstrate broad and integrated knowledge. The new essay format consists of two essays: (1) teaching techniques he or she has used, or ways he or she would present information from the thesis or project paper in a seminar; and (2) relating the focus of the thesis or project paper to literary movements or critical theories or writers not covered in the thesis or project paper. All students will also present their research findings in a seminar open to all members of the department. In addition to the Comprehensive Examination described above, all students are required to make an oral defense of their research, typically lasting one hour for a thesis and 30-45 minutes for a project paper. These defenses are unrehearsed and open to other members of the English Graduate Faculty. Students are assessed according to the breadth of their knowledge and effectiveness of presentation. The student's three committee members make independent judgments on performance to assure the reliability of the assessment. Because of problems in the later stages of several theses or project papers, the Graduate Studies committee has instituted a requirement for all MA students to submit a prospectus for approval by each member of his or her advisory committee during the third semester of study. Required of all MA graduates, ENGL6000 (Introduction to Graduate Studies) was expanded beginning fall 2003 from a one-hour to a three-hour course, including an emphasis on literary theory.
  2. Currently four of our MA students are enrolled in such programs (Kentucky, Purdue, Indiana-PA, and Louisville). Another MA graduate recently earned the PhD in English from Louisiana-Lafayette. All students recently pursuing admission to Ph.D. programs have reported success in gaining admission. One recently accepted a university tenure-track position.
  3. This can be assessed only by the success of actual students who have gone on to graduate programs in disciplines other than English. Currently only one of our MA graduates is enrolled in such a program (Linguistics, Georgia); his success indicates appropriate preparation. (This learning outcome, while potentially important to all our graduates, is perhaps the least utilized. Few of our graduates have pursued graduate education in fields other than English.)
  4. This goal is assessed by the success our students have in competing for jobs at the high school and junior college level, and how well they succeed in those positions. In recent years five MA graduates have gained full-time positions at area high schools or middle schools, three at the junior-college level.
  5. This goal is assessed by the success our students have in competing for jobs in business, government, and not-for-profit fields, and how well they succeed in those positions. A recent informal review of MA graduates since the program's inception in the 1960s shows graduates with a wide range of careers, including publishing, corporate communication, management, and journalism. More data should be gathered relevant to this goal.

Plans for Improving Assessment:

To improve assessment of Learning Outcomes II-V, which involve success realized after earning the MA, a more formal survey mechanism is needed.