of Study: MA
- Degree Requirements - Graduate Student Handbook
Reading List - Learning Outcomes and Assessment
- Forms and Application Resources - Program Fact Sheet
Outcomes and Assessment: MA
The M.A. program in
English is designed to cultivate advanced mastery of content within the
discipline, refined skills in professional and scholarly writing, comprehensive
knowledge of critical practices, and a keen awareness of contemporary
issues in the study of literature. The graduate faculty in English seek
to prepare graduate students whose knowledge of language and literature
will inform their intellectual and ethical understanding, and whose communication
and critical thinking skills will allow them to contribute to the region
and beyond in a variety of careers and positions.
In carrying out this
mission, the graduate faculty is commited to teaching excellence in all
graduate-level courses by fostering writing and thinking skills in an
array of writing-intensive, discussion-oriented classes and seminars and
by incorporating current technology into teaching and learning. The graduate
faculty also share a strong commitment to our department's position as
a regional focal point for a strong master's degree program in English,
flexible enough to provide more advanced study for those who wish to further
their intellectual development and rigorous enough to prepare students
for doctoral work or other professional fields such as teaching, business,
and law, thereby serving the region by providing graduates well-schooled
in the liberal arts who contribute productively to their communities.
I. Learning Outcomes:
A. Graduate students
will be able to demonstrate advanced mastery of content within the discipline
by answering comprehensive questions about specific writers, genres,
texts, and literary periods that they have studied.
B. Graduate students
will be able to demonstrate that they have achieved refined skills in
professional and scholarly writing. This expectation presumes a command
of pertinent critical assumptions, methodologies, and practices.
C. Graduate students
will be able to demonstrate a facility in relating the facts and ideas
of the discipline to cognate fields and to explore their correspondence,
particularly within the context of Western intellectual history.
D. Graduate students
will be able to demonstrate a keen awareness of contemporary issues
in the study of literature, including those which emanate from an understanding
of the differences among cultural value systems.
II. Methods of Assessment
A. All graduate
courses in English require short critical papers and an extended research-based
project of 12-15 pages. These protocols provide ongoing cultivation
and assessment of learning outcomes I.B, C, and D specified above.
B. The M.A. thesis
and thesis exam, for students electing that option, is the primary instrument
for gauging the level of expertise developed through the program. It
thus addresses especially well the expectation of I.B above.
C. All graduate
students, both thesis and non-thesis track, participate in a comprehensive
oral examination upon completion of their studies. The exam is based
on a departmentally approved reading list. From these sessions, typically
lasting ninety minutes, committees of five faculty per student assess
fulfillment of I.A above.
D. In conjunction
with the comprehensive oral examination, all graduate students will
be asked to file with the department chair a formal evaluation of the
program's overall effectiveness. This form is targeted at evaluation
of I.C and D above.
III. Assessment Information
A. The faculty committee
for each graduate student, prior to award of the M.A. degree, will compose
a one-page report evaluating the extent to which the student has achieved
the given learning outcomes. These reports will be reviewed each year
in the spring by the department's Graduate Program Committee (in consultation
with the Director of Graduate Studies) to make recommendations to the
graduate faculty in English for changes or improvements to the program.
B. Based upon its
analysis of the aforementioned reports, supplemented by the Department
Chair's and Director of Graduate Studies' review of course syllabi and
student evaluations, the Graduate Program Committee recommends proposals
for enhancing pedagogy, resources, and procedures. The English graduate
faculty as a whole must approve such recommendations.
C. Information gathered
from all these sources is conveyed in the department chair's annual
or cumulative report to the Dean of Arts and Sciences. Where improvements
require additional staffing or financial support, it is essential that
adequate funding be provided based upon assessment data.
D. With the exception
of II.D and III.A above, all assessment methods and uses have already
been implemented. Results gathered from our new instrument for student
evaluation of courses, coupled with the evidence of M.A. theses and
oral examinations, have shaped both the design and staffing of our curricular
offerings. Such ongoing improvement of the program will be reinforced
further by the supplementary sources of information indicated in II.D