Unit: American Studies
Program: American Studies (MA)
Degree: Master's
Date: Sat Oct 24, 2015 - 11:13:48 am

1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update as needed.

  1. ·        Broad knowledge of U.S. history, society, and culture.
  2. ·        Understanding of several key disciplinary methods to U.S. history,   society, and culture.
  3. ·        Critical analysis and writing skills.
  4. ·        Independent research skills involving primary sources.


1) Institutional Learning Objectives (ILOs) and Program Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/amst/
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:
Other: Assessment reports, departmental reviews

3) Please review, add, replace, or delete the existing curriculum map.

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2015:

4) For your program, the percentage of courses that have course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is as follows. Please update as needed.


5) Did your program engage in any program learning assessment activities between June 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015?

No (skip to question 16)

6) What best describes the program-level learning assessment activities that took place for the period June 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015? (Check all that apply.)

Create/modify/discuss program learning assessment procedures (e.g., SLOs, curriculum map, mechanism to collect student work, rubric, survey)
Collect/evaluate student work/performance to determine SLO achievement
Collect/analyze student self-reports of SLO achievement via surveys, interviews, or focus groups
Use assessment results to make programmatic decisions (e.g., change course content or pedagogy, design new course, hiring)
Investigate curriculum coherence. This includes investigating how well courses address the SLOs, course sequencing and adequacy, the effect of pre-requisites on learning achievement.
Investigate other pressing issue related to student learning achievement for the program (explain in question 7)
Other: Our department undertook a significant curricular review and revision in 2014-15.

7) Briefly explain the assessment activities that took place in the last 18 months.

In Fall 2014-Spring 2015, the faculty of the Department of American Studies undertook a review and revision of its Ph.D. program. We used prior assessment results and current syllabi, as well as prior assessment data, to explore how effectively the graduate core (AMST 600, 601, and 602) supported the departmental SLOs, and to revise the graduate core.

Our goals were fourfold: to maintain intellectual standards, to support students’ intellectual growth, to identify and address obstacles to student success, and to streamline program requirements to reduce students’ time to degree.

The faculty identified several priorities in moving forward with curricular revisions. Specifically, it aimed to:

      Increase students’ familiarity with breadth of scholarship in the interdiscipline of American Studies;

      Deepen content knowledge in two specific fields of specialization;

      Support the development of superior writing skills, and improve editing and peer review capabilities;

      Increase opportunities within the first two years of students’ coursework for independent research and professionalization, including public presentations, research proposal development, and research in primary sources.

      Enhance the complementarity of the American Studies M.A. and certificate programs in Museum Studies or Historic Preservation.

      Identify and address problem areas that have delayed students’ progress to degree.


8) What types of evidence did the program use as part of the assessment activities checked in question 6? (Check all that apply.)

Direct evidence of student learning (student work products)

Artistic exhibition/performance
Assignment/exam/paper completed as part of regular coursework and used for program-level assessment
Capstone work product (e.g., written project or non-thesis paper)
Exam created by an external organization (e.g., professional association for licensure)
Exit exam created by the program
IRB approval of research
Oral performance (oral defense, oral presentation, conference presentation)
Portfolio of student work
Publication or grant proposal
Qualifying exam or comprehensive exam for program-level assessment in addition to individual student evaluation (graduate level only)
Supervisor or employer evaluation of student performance outside the classroom (internship, clinical, practicum)
Thesis or dissertation used for program-level assessment in addition to individual student evaluation
Other 1: Syllabi for core courses (AMST 600, 601, 602)
Other 2: Data gathered in prior academic years during assessments

Indirect evidence of student learning

Alumni survey that contains self-reports of SLO achievement
Employer meetings/discussions/survey/interview of student SLO achievement
Interviews or focus groups that contain self-reports of SLO achievement
Student reflective writing assignment (essay, journal entry, self-assessment) on their SLO achievement.
Student surveys that contain self-reports of SLO achievement
Other 1: Face-to-face meetings or correspondence of Graduate Chair and/or Faculty Adviser with all M.A. students in the program
Other 2: Curricular retreat and follow-up meetings in which faculty shared qualitative assessment of each student's progress.

Program evidence related to learning and assessment
(more applicable when the program focused on the use of results or assessment procedure/tools in this reporting period instead of data collection)

Assessment-related such as assessment plan, SLOs, curriculum map, etc.
Program or course materials (syllabi, assignments, requirements, etc.)
Other 1:
Other 2:

9) State the number of students (or persons) who submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

Evidence included:

1) qualitative data (adivising sessions of Graduate Chair or Faculty Advisers with thirteen current MA students, as well as experience over the past two years of advising), and

2) quantitative data gathered in prior assessment years (based on MA written and oral exams),

3) faculty syllabi for the three American Studies courses that constitute the M.A. core.

10) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)
Other: Graduate faculty retreat; in addition, entire faculty met twice a month throughout Fall and Spring 2014-15 to assess student achievements and develop strategies for program revision.

11) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)
Other: assessed syllabi and results of advising, as well as assessment data based on prior test scores for written and oral exams.

12) Summarize the results of the assessment activities checked in question 6. For example, report the percent of students who achieved each SLO.

Department faculty decided that revision of graduate core would support student success.


13) What best describes how the program used the results? (Check all that apply.)

Assessment procedure changes (SLOs, curriculum map, rubrics, evidence collected, sampling, communications with faculty, etc.)
Course changes (course content, pedagogy, courses offered, new course, pre-requisites, requirements)
Personnel or resource allocation changes
Program policy changes (e.g., admissions requirements, student probation policies, common course evaluation form)
Students' out-of-course experience changes (advising, co-curricular experiences, program website, program handbook, brown-bag lunches, workshops)
Celebration of student success!
Results indicated no action needed because students met expectations
Use is pending (typical reasons: insufficient number of students in population, evidence not evaluated or interpreted yet, faculty discussions continue)

14) Please briefly describe how the program used the results.

The following changes were proposed, developed and approved by the AMST faculty, the OGE, and the OVCAA in Spring 2015


      reconfiguration of the American Studies three-course (9-unit) core for M.A.  students by revising AMST 601, deleting AMST 602, and creating a new course, “Research and Professional Development” (AMST 603);

      elimination of 3 credits of requirements from the M.A. program.

A)   Revision of content of AMST 601; deletion of AMST 602.

      Justification: The content of AMST 601 and AMST 602, two chronologically organized, historical overviews of American culture, was combined into a single course (AMST 601). Prior to revision, AMST 601 explored American cultural origins and development from beginnings to the Civil War, while AMST 602 continued this historical overview from the Civil War to the present. The revision dropped the historical marker from AMST 601, essentially combining AMST 601-602 into a single class.  The revised AMST 601 will continue to provide a historical overview American cultural origins and development, but will do so in the span of a single course. Combining two core courses will open space in the core to address other key elements of student intellectual development.

B)   Creation of new course: AMST 603 (Research and Professional Development).

      Justification: AMST 603 is designed to better equip our students to meet the challenges of publishing, funding, teaching, and the professional job market. In particular, students and faculty identified the need for an intensive core course that will provide additional training in independent scholarly research, improve writing and presentation skills, and prepare students to submit their work for publication and presentation in scholarly venues. AMST 603 will be the third and final course in the required graduate sequence. The first two courses emphasize field parameters, methods, theory, and content; this last, professional skills. The primary aim is to design a pivot course to help students transition from structured study to independent research.

      Course description: AMST 603 will prepare advanced M.A. students to present original research findings to colleagues, write for peer review, design undergraduate classes in their areas of expertise, and participate actively in their fields. The principal assignment is a formal paper for an academic conference that can also serve as the basis for an article or thesis chapter. In addition, students will participate in various workshops to prepare them for success in teaching, grant writing, and the job market.  Evaluation will be based on participation and peer review; weekly written assignments; the production of a syllabus, bibliography, paper and panel proposal; a funding proposal; section drafts; and the final conference paper. The objective is for students to complete work of sufficient quality to successfully navigate peer review.

15) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries? This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, and great achievements regarding program assessment in this reporting period.

In the Humanities, the most useful assessment tool is qualitative, based on experience in advising students on a one-to-one basis. We derive useful information from the consultation of the Graduate Chair and faculty advisers with individual students, as well as in annual meetings of the full faculty devoted to a discussion of each student's progress. During that meeting, and in meetings with the Graduate Chair, faculty members provide a detailed assessment of students' performance in seminar discussions as well as their written work.

16) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please explain.