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M. A., Rhetoric and Composition

Departmental Assessment Report

Number of Majors:

Level: Fall 2005 Fall 2006 Fall 2007
Graduate Student 4

Student Learning Goals:

Students will be able to:

1. Identify and define at least four key theories in rhetoric and composition, and  describe how these theories might inform practice in the writing classroom.
2. Design and conduct research using appropriate methodological approaches in the discipline
3. Identify a relevant scholarly question or problem in the discipline and explore it effectively in a lengthy article or essay, or in a thesis.
4. Demonstrate understanding of some key questions or issues in at least three of the following:  writing centers, ESL, composition theory, rhetorical theory, writing across the curriculum, writing program administration, writing pedagogies.

Assessment Plan:

Assessment Measure: Goals Addressed:

(list by number)

How is the information used?
1.  Review of theses and portfolios 1-3 Faculty who teach graduate courses in Rhetoric and Composition will meet yearly in September to assess portfolios and theses. The Discipline Director will organize this meeting.  The group will assess the first three learning goals each year.  The results will be used to improve instruction, initiate curriculum changes, and/or modify learning goals, and will be discussed at a meeting of all Rhetoric and Composition faculty in the fall term each year.  In particular, faculty will determine how well ENGL 561 and ENGL 554 prepare students to successfully complete theses and portfolios.
2.   Exit essay 4 Prior to defense of thesis or portfolio, students will be asked to complete a timed essay with questions in three areas that they choose.   The results will be used to determine whether students possess the breadth of knowledge in the discipline that we expect, and course content and requirements will be changed if necessary.
Once it is determined what changes need to made in the curriculum, the Discipline Director  will convene a formal meeting of faculty who teach Rhetoric and Composition courses.  In that meeting, curriculum change proposals will be discussed (if warranted) before submitting to the English Department Curriculum Committee; course syllabi will be re-examined and revised to reflect the assessment information and needed changes.  After five years, the entire emphasis will be reviewed: it will be compared with competing programs across the region, assessed based on what graduates need (based on alumni survey and research on graduate school requirements and expectations for community college teachers), and courses will be revised/added/deleted.

What do the assessment results tell you?

The results of the thesis/portfolio assessment will tell us whether and how well students are achieving the learning goals for the emphasis that can be demonstrated in texts.  Every year we will address all four goals, and  we will discuss changes that need to be made in individual courses and the overall curriculum of the emphasis.

What are some examples of changes made over the last two years based on assessment findings?

The assessment measures have not yet been implemented.  We hope to do so in Fall, 2008.

What recommendations do you have for improving the assessment process?

None at this time.

Other comments:

TEACHING ASSISTANTS

Level: Fall 2005 Fall 2006 Fall 2007
Graduate Student 29 29 31

Student Learning Goals

1 Design syllabi for first-year writing courses that enact the Writing Program’s mission, goals and competencies for the course
2 Design assignments and in-class activities for first-year writing courses that are appropriate for students’ ability levels, help students learn the competencies for the course, and are grounded in composition theory
3 Respond to and evaluate student writing
4 Conduct one-one conferences with students that balance facilitative and directive strategies
5. Reflect on and explain their philosophy of teaching writing, their strengths and weaknesses as a teacher of writing, and the theories that inform their assignments

Assessment Measures

Assessment Measure: Goals Addressed:

(list by number)

How is the information used?
1.  Student course evaluations 2, 3, 4 The Director and Assistant Director will meet in the spring each year to assess which learning goals are reflected in these student evaluations.
2. Coursework for Seminar for Teaching Assistants 1-5 The instructor of record for the Seminar (either the Director or Assistant Director) will write an overview of how well each assignment met the learning goals for TA’s.
3. Teaching portfolios that include a collection of assignments, syllabi, teaching reflections, sample responses to papers 1-5 Teaching Assistants will turn in teaching portfolios at the end of each year during their appointment.  During an annual meeting in the spring of each year, the Director and Assistant Director will review these portfolios and score them based on how well they reflect the learning goals.
4.  Teaching evaluation by the Director or Assistant Director of the Writing Program (includes a self-evaluation by the TA) 1-5 During an annual meeting in the spring of each year, the Director and Assistant Director will review these evaluations and score them based on how well they reflect the learning goals.  The results of all four assessment measures will be used by the Director and Assistant Director to revise any of the following: TA Orientation, ENGL 598:  Seminar for Teaching Assistants, TA evaluation process, needs for additional coursework and/or additional training in the summer.  These changes will be presented to the First-Year Writing Committee and the department chair for approval.

What do the assessment results tell you?

The student course evaluations will reflect ENGL 101 students’ perspectives on the quality, content, and delivery of the course, offering one assessment of how effectively the TA’s design assignments, respond to student writing, handle class time, and conduct conferences.  An informal review of these course evaluations the past few years suggest TA’s are quite effective in all these areas, but a more formal assessment will be more reliable.

The coursework for ENGL 598 is primarily text-based; that is, students are required to draft syllabi and assignments, analyze a conference transcript, analyze their written comments on papers, and assemble a teaching portfolio that includes a teaching philosophy.  The faculty member teaching this course can easily determine which learning goals are being achieved by reviewing these assignments.

Similarly, the teaching portfolio required for TA’s will include written material that should demonstrate the TA’s success at all five learning goals.  The formal evaluation by the Director or Assistant Director will bring in information not seen simply through written text:  classroom observations and informal conversations about pedagogy and specific classroom practices.

All of these measures will be used to initiate changes in curriculum, the appointment of TA’s (i.e., the application used to select TA’s), course content for ENGL 598, mentoring and training.  The Director of the Writing Program will be responsible for proposing the changes agreed upon.

What are some examples of changes made over the last two years based on assessment findings?

The assessment measures have not yet been implemented.  We hope to do so in Fall, 2006.

What recommendations do you have for improving the assessment process?

None at this time.

Other comments: