Results of Assessment
2005-2006 (submitted 07/20/06)
Assessment efforts this year have focused on:
- Five-year Program Review;
- Coordination with Social Science General Education Assessment committee to align goals and student outcomes of our general education course, WS 1500, with newly defined Social Science student outcomes;
- An analysis of student writing samples from various WS classes during the academic year; and
- The collection and assessment of graduating WS students’ essays regarding the program.
Five-year Program Review
To prepare for our five-year academic review, a self-study of the program was undertaken. Assessment measures found therein include:
- Student Enrollment and Graduation Patterns 2000-2005
- Enrollments in our core WS courses have significantly increased particularly in our WS 1500 course. The number of minors has varied somewhat but we have graduated from 1-5 students per year during this time period (except for 2001-02).
- Introduction to Women’s Studies, which also serves as a diversity course had enrollments in fall and spring of 19 and 32 students respectively. Feminist Theories had 9 students.
Complete enrollment statistics for 2005-06 include:
Course Number & Title Faculty Semester Enrollment
WOMEN’S STUDIES CORE & ELECTIVE COURSES
|WS 1500 Intro to Women's Studies||Johns/Kumar||Fall||19|
|WS 1500 Intro to Women's Studies||Kuehls||Spring||9|
|WS 3050 Feminist Theories||Kuehls||Spring||9|
|WS 4050 Research Methodology||Szalay||Spring||1|
|WS 4830 Directed Readings 1, 2, 3||Parrilla de Kokal||Fall||3|
|WS 4830 Directed Readings 1, 2, 3||Parrilla de Kokal||Spring||1|
|WS 4860 Practicum||Parrilla de Kokal||Spring||2|
|WS 4990 Senior Seminar||Powell||Spring||3|
|WS 4920 Special Topics||Sheridan||Sum||8|
|(Revolution: Ireland, Scotland, and England)|
|WS 2900 Special Topics||Sheridan||Sum||5|
|(Revolution: Ireland, Scotland, and England)|
|PSY 2100 Psychology of Women & Gender||Parrilla de Kokal||Fall||17|
|PSY 3100 Psychology of Diversity||Parrilla de Kokal||Spring||21|
|PSY 3100 Psychology of Diversity||Parrilla de Kokal||Sum||17|
DV 2710 Perspectives on Women's Lit
|DV 3090 Gender Communication||Johns||Fall||22|
|POLS 4940 Topics in American Politics & Thought||Murray||Fall||10|
|HTHS 4220 Women's Health Issues||Hyatt||Spring||17|
|HNRS 3900 Honors Colloquium||Porter/Giralt||Spring||7|
|SPAN 3670 Literature Authors: Love, Intellect and Convent: Hispanic Women Write||Giralt||Spring||16|
|GERT DV3320 Ethnicity and Older Women in Society||VanOrman||Fall||20|
|ENGL 3720 Topics in Literature: Victorian Prostitution & its Enemies||Rogers||Spring||9|
Two students graduated this spring with minors in women’s studies:
Parivash Fahim, who majored in political science and is currently working in Washington DC and Nikki Pappas, who majored in Performing Arts and is currently working in Alaska with Allison Holtkamp. Additionally, Allison Holtkamp completed a BIS degree with a Women’s Studies focus.
The Women’s Studies Program Review Committee concluded:
“We are impressed with the program—both in the commitment, talent and energy of the faculty and students. It has become clear to us that the WS has a vital niche it occupies intellectually, pedagogically, and socially in the university. We encourage the program to retain the high standards of intellectual rigor we found in the classroom and the passion about the pedagogical issues faced by the program.
There was no previous review that we were made available to the committee. Nonetheless, the fifteen year history of the program suggests an impressive longevity attributed to both the faculty and administrators involved.”
In response to this review and assessment of our entire program a number of steps are presently being taken to meet the reviewers’ concerns:
A. Mission Statement
Regarding program outreach to the university and wider community in the WS mission statement: A subcommittee of the Women’s Studies Executive Committee is reviewing the program’s mission statement this summer and will report back to the Executive Committee in the fall. This revision will include revamping the mission statement so that it better reflects the activities of the program and highlights the unique and vital role Women’s Studies plays in presenting feminism to WSU students, promoting critical thinking, and offering an alternative pedagogy to traditional courses in the university. Wider community outreach will be addressed.
B. Curriculum Standards
The syllabi for the introductory core courses ought to be standardized.
Work has begun in this area with faculty syllabi being integrated into one basic syllabus for each course. A WS faculty subcommittee is presently working on this goal. Target due date is September 2006.
To promote consistency, faculty teaching the same class should choose from a list of recommended texts.
WS Faculty members are currently exploring texts in order to come up with 1 – 2 acceptable texts for core courses.
Faculty teaching core courses should be given a course-specific list of teaching content and objectives.
This item also is being addressed during the summer 2006 term with Women’s Studies faculty creating a more unified team and collaborating to continue to work on identifying and assessing student learning outcomes for the program. Regular faculty meetings will be scheduled during Fall and Spring semesters to provide continuous discussion of curriculum, pedagogy and assessment issues.
Greater clarity could be given to how the upper division core courses (WS 4060, WS 4990) are capstone experiences for students.
Both of these courses are targeted for reconstruction prior to Spring 2007.
We encourage regular faculty discussions about pedagogy unique to women’s studies courses. In the past, retreats and annual opening and closing meetings have provided opportunities for this kind of dialogue. In addition to sponsored events and activities, and a mailed newsletter, we propose the establishment of regular faculty meetings and a daylong retreat as goals for 2006-07. Additional funding may be necessary to facilitate these goals.
C. Student Learning Outcomes and Assessment
WS program assessment, performed by analyzing graduating students’ essays and other artifacts, though adequate, is only one measure. The Women’s Studies’ assessment subcommittee has developed a more “user-friendly” assessment which we are prepared to pilot this coming academic year, including the use of exit surveys, pre and posttests, and alumni surveys.
Student recruitment and retention data needs to be more carefully collected and reviewed to better understand strength and weaknesses of the program. We recognize that some of this refers to consistency in data reporting and plan to involve a subcommittee of the Women’s Studies Executive Council to formulate the process for data collection and reporting. This data will then be made available on the web by Spring 2007.
D. Academic Advising Standards
More frequent contact with advisors was recommended and thus we have proposed to make regular student semester “check-ins” mandatory for progress toward completion of the minor.
E. Faculty Standards
Like the assessment team, we too find that Women’s Studies faculty members have an impressive sense of commitment and energy and are very service-oriented. We are in the process of addressing the criterion needed for faculty to teach in the program (in place by Spring 2007). As the faculty members are all adjuncts and there is no formal review process for tenure promotion, it is our plan to involve seasoned faculty members in the evaluation, mentorship and support of new and continuing teachers.
F. Program Support Standards
Regarding the committee’s findings that lack of support staff creates some issues regarding the recruitment and retention of students, we agree and think that increasing the hours of the coordinator would be helpful. We also believe that this challenges the sense of continuity and the growth of the program and recognize the need for further dialogue about the possibility of adding more release time to the coordinator’s position. To ameliorate the loss of continuity, we have hired the new coordinator a semester before their actual assignment, but have had to use one adjunct’s salary to accomplish this.
H. Results of Previous Program Review and Future Directions:
The review committee suggests more heightened awareness of the program across the campus and community as well as more effort to encourage the number of minors in the program as well as students who are not minors but who benefit from taking WS courses. We agree and recognize that greater efforts in these areas will need to include possibly more funding and more support from general administration in order to be successful.
Coordination with Social Science General Education Assessment committee to align goals and student outcomes of our general education course, WS 1500, with newly defined Social Science student outcomes
The newly defined Social Science General Education Breadth Student Learning Outcomes are:
A student completing a social science general education course should be able to accomplish 3 of the following 5 learning outcomes:
#1 Describe a social science approach to studying and understanding human behavior.
#2 Describe basic assumptions about humans and their behaviors from a social science perspective.
#3 Explain the basic elements and operation of a sociocultural system.
#4 Explain the interactions between individuals and their socicultural and/or natural environments.
#5 Apply a social science perspective to a particular issue and identify factors impacting change (past or present).
A subcommittee of WS faculty determined that WS 1500 course objectives and outcomes could also meet #2, #3 and #4 above. The Social Science general education subcommittee will continue to meet to collect data and discuss ways of reporting analyses of data across programs in the college.
An analysis of student writing samples from various WS classes during the academic year
Using a standard writing rubric (see “A” attached), twenty-two different Women’s Studies student assignments and papers were assessed for content and writing proficiency. As might be expected, average scores for papers coming from first-year or WS 1500 students did not fare as well as senior-level students’ papers. Senior level papers (n=5) were ranked by the reviewer (Becky Johns) as 4.5, strong in content and writing considerations and the average WS 1500 (n = 17) = 3.3.
The following is a selection from WS 1500 papers which demonstrate adequate writing skills and an increased awareness about the issues surrounding women in the world. Many of these speak to the three identified social science issues above and the #1 WSU Women’s Studies Program Student Outcome: “Know the main social, economic, political and psychological issues in contemporary women’s lives globally and locally.”
“. . . Throughout the semester and even just this last week during the class presentations, I’ve been shown so many ways that a student like me can help. I’ve listened to classmates talk about over a dozen organizations right here in the Ogden area. This gave me encouragement and also from my own findings about Head Start that something is being done and social problems are being addressed and it isn’t hard to get involved!”
“ . . . I never realized before taking this course the problems that women face. Young women, elderly women, single women, gay women, or just all women face challenges that aren’t always understood. All of the articles in the textbook that I’ve read have appealed to me in one way or another. I also didn’t realize the racial or religious discrimination that women face all around the world. There are so many ways that a woman can be abused and I don’t think I’ve noticed so much before now. Also, I felt that this course and this particular assignment were applicable to my other courses.
The aspect I wanted to emphasize the most was that women’s issues, poverty, discrimination and so many other dreadful circumstances seem to be so foreign. During the presentations throughout this course, I loved hearing the personal stories of my classmates and realizing that problems and difficulties were all around me, even in my classroom. Stories of abortion, assault, and issues that have been ignored and unaddressed made me feel so much stronger about the subject of women’s studies. The personal experiences touched me and I was encouraged to see passion in the classroom that would hopefully lead to action and involvement.”
“I would say that this women’s studies course was worth my time. I did enjoy the reading and the current issues aspect. I would recommend the class to other interested students. I felt it had substance and feeling. I liked learning about feminism and how it is important to our culture.”
“I am going to take what I have learned in this class and try to help better myself so by the time I graduate I can help others in the world around me. I actually have decided to become a Women’s Studies minor. I find it interesting, not to mention I love to travel the world and with a BS in Nursing, I could go to third world countries and help other women succeed in life. My passion in life is to help others.”
“I’ve noticed a definite change in myself since taking this course. I had always tried to be aware of gender issues, but I had limited information. Having the opportunity to examine so many different issues from so many different perspectives in this course has simply made me more aware. I am more cautious with information that I receive, particularly from the media. I find myself taking the time to analyze the situation or story or ‘facts’, to see if they are biased and see if I am being manipulated. . . “
A male class member writes: “What I have gained most of all is a new set of lens to view society with. How do my actions affect those around me? How are my actions perceived? Am I perpetuating an ingrained social norm that is a disservice to a fellow human?”
“I have a much better understanding of issues that effect women on a global scale as a result of this course. For example, I never knew that much about female genital mutilation until this class. I am also much more aware of issues concerning the transgendered community. Unfortunately, that is a group of people that I think are heavily overlooked and often discriminated against. I think that just learning about the challenges that transgendered individuals face on a daily basis can really open people’s minds. . .”
“This course has been a great eye-opener for me. I have learned that oppression is not dead, but neither is hope. My attitudes concerning my own body and the societal view of women’s bodies have changed. I learned that when I think and speak too negatively about my physical and emotional self, that I may taint the younger girls I come in contact with. I discovered that women don’t have a monopoly on being victims of sexism. Men are unfairly stereotyped too. All of the above mentioned things are wonderful additions to my consciousness; however I gleaned one that that is more valuable to me than all of the above: this class made me aware. Things that never bothered me before now seem painfully obvious such as the portrayal of women in movies, the prevalence of sweat shops, the unfairness in the job market. I cherish this new understanding because it prompts me to action. I have committed to shop only at thrift stores and from sweatshop-free retailers. I have determined to become a powerful force in my community through volunteering. . . . I have also committed to be less cynical. My first reaction to this newfound information learned in this class was to become suspicious and bitter. I decided that is an icky way to live so I’m changing that attitude to one of hope and hard work! And that’s what I learned in Women’s Studies.”
The collection and assessment of graduating WS students’ essays regarding the program
Graduating WS students are asked to write an essay regarding their experience in the program. The following is part of one such student’s essay, Nikki Pappas:
“I am so grateful I found the Women’s Studies department at Weber State University. It is a great department that teaches critical and proactive skills that one could not necessarily get in any other department.
. . . This brings me to my next point of “activism”. Not only are we taught to think critically about all aspects of the patriarchal system (media, education, etc.), but we are also given ideas of how to fix these things. It is fixing not only on a very large political scale, but on an individual level, first and foremost. I really appreciate that aspect,. . . As I learn about these injustices, I am given the option and vocabulary to speak out against our widely accepted and destructive social norms, even if only directed to one person at a time. . .
This department has helped me to become what I am and realize what I want to be. There are plenty of departments at this university that could teach me skills and how to utilize them in the real world; but the Women’s Studies department sculpted me into a much stronger, smarter, and more enlightened individual.”
Overall, the graduating student essays are insightful, gratifying and eloquent in their statements of new understandings and new directions for their lives based on their experiences in Women’s Studies. More of these stories and experiences need to be communicated to faculty, administration, potential students and the community at large to better understand the mission and importance of the WSU Women’s Studies department.
Submitted: Becky Johns, Ph.D., 06/08/06
Writing Rubrics Evaluation Instrument - WSU Women’s Studies Department
5 = Excellent, 4 = Strong, 3 = Adequate, 2 = Flawed, 1 = Seriously Flawed, Poor
|Theme or Purpose Clear?|
|Topic Appropriate for Purpose?|
|Appropriate for Audience?|
|Adapted to Audience?|
|Organization Fits Purpose?|
|Clear intro, body and Conclusion?|
|Each Paragraph one Main Idea?|
|Information properly cited?|
|Appropriate information for topic/audience?|
|Ideas well-developed with appropriate supporting materials?|
|Is writing consistent with Type and Info available?|
|Writing Clear & Concise?|
|Effective Sentence Structure?|
|Concrete Nouns & Active Verbs?|
|Appropriate Punctuation and Grammar and accurate Spelling?|
|Appropriate and Effective Syntax, Voice, Style?|