Results of Assessment
2000-2001 (submitted 04/04/02)
Previously we have developed a mission statement, selected performance-based outcomes, developed a grid determining which classes would be meeting each outcome, and developed a strategy to collect data and analyze our success.
- Samples of student writing samples from various classes
- An exit survey of graduating seniors
- Graduating students’ essays analyzing the program
Analysis of the Data:
A committee, consisting of Diane Krantz, Judith Pratt, and Sandra Powell, met in March of 2002 to analyze the data collected. The essays of graduating seniors provided the richest data concerning the program. It was determined that the comments regarding the three core classes, Introduction to Women’s Studies, Feminist Theories, and Research Methodologies, would be compiled and forwarded to faculty before they began teaching each of these classes. The grid showing outcomes would also be distributed to faculty at the same time. One of the problems with assessing and improving our program is that we do not have a lot of continuity in our faculty. While it is true that most faculty teach on a recurring basis, one class is not normally assigned to a single person or team (most of our core classes are team taught). Consistently forwarding this information to faculty will help us all to benefit from comments about our outcomes.
In addition to getting specific comments about our program, we assessed the caliber of the writing samples themselves. We gained a new appreciation of the students that we attract in Women ’s Studies. Although our quantity may be small, the quality of our students is amazing. Our students as a general rule were articulate and insightful. They supported their ideas with evidence and their grasp of the English language was sound. More importantly to us, these women (and a few outstanding men) were attuned to the world around them and wanted very much to make it a better place for us all to live.
Strengths of the program focused most often on the excellence of our teaching faculty and the small interactive and interdisciplinary curriculum . Another sub-theme was the relevance of our program and its ability to address important issues and empower the students. The pedagogy of team teaching was another strength. Several students referred to the classes as "graduate level" and said they taught "critical analysis." A final comment involved the quality of friendships that they developed with other students and with faculty.
Negative comments nearly all focused on the small size of the program and our inability to offer very many electives. Several students would have preferred to have a major in Women’s Studies rather than just a minor. One student reported that the program lacked support from the university. Another commented, "Don’t be afraid to challenge students beyond what you think they are capable of." There was a difference of opinion about whether we should have more or less service learning.
It was suggested that one other tool to evaluate our students would be to look at what our alumni are doing. Some have emerged from backgrounds of various kinds of abuse to lead very productive lives. Many are in helping professions, such as social work. Many have gone to or are applying to graduate school. One graduate from last year is entering the Peace Corps. Most have given a lot of the credit for their success to the Women’s Studies program.
Changes anticipated as a result of our assessment:
- Give information to faculty before they teach each semester about outcomes desired grid and feedback from previous students of the course.
- Be more systematic about collecting exit surveys, writing samples, and information about alumni activities.
- We were satisfied with the grid of objectives and classes dealing with them.