Program: American Studies (PhD)
Date: Sat Oct 24, 2015 - 10:57:11 am
1) Institutional Learning Objectives (ILOs) and Program Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update as needed.
- Broad knowledge of U.S. history, society, and culture.
- Understanding of several key disciplinary methods to U.S. history, society, and culture.
- Critical analysis and advanced writing skills.
- Mastery of two fields of the student’s specialization, plus broad knowledge of the history of American Studies as a field.
- Pedagogical skills and experience for college-level teaching.
- Advanced research skills necessary to complete a book-length project of original scholarship.
2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number: 91-93
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:
Other: Annual assessment reports, departmental reviews.
3) Please review, add, replace, or delete the existing curriculum map.
- File (03/16/2020)
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.)
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 to explore how effectively the graduate core (AMST 600, 601, and 602) supported the departmental SLOs, and to revise the graduate core on that basis.
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 Ph.D. program 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)
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
Other 2: Data gathered in prior academic years for assessment.
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 Ph.D. 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.)
9) State the number of students (or persons) who submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.
1) qualitative data (advising sessions of Graduate Chair or AMST Faculty Advisers with 45 Ph.D. students, as well as experience over the past two years of advising with another 7-10), and
2) quantitative data gathered in prior assessment years (based on results of Qualifying Exams and Comprehensive Exams), and
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.)
Ad hoc faculty group
Persons or organization outside the university
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 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 scores in qualifying and comprehensive 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 determined that revision of the core curriculum would be advantageous to student progress.
13) What best describes how the program used the results? (Check all that apply.)
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 American Studies Department:
● reconfigured the American Studies three-course (9-unit) core for Ph.D. students by revising AMST 601, deleting AMST 602, and creating a new course, “Research and Professional Development” (AMST 603);
● created a new course entitled “Field Mastery” (AMST 650) for Ph.D. students;
● eliminated one course (3 credits) of requirements from the Ph.D. program.
The following changes were proposed, developed and approved by the American Studies faculty, the OGE, and the OVCAA.
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. We dropped the historical marker from AMST 601, 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 opened 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 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 graduate 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.
C) Creation of new course for Ph.D. students: AMST 650 (Field Mastery).
● Justification/Description: A new course has been designed to address the program requirement of mastery of the general field of American Studies and two specialized subfields within this interdiscipline. By the beginning of their fourth year in the Ph.D. program, Ph.D. students are expected to have mastered 200 books in these three areas. Intensive study with the graduate faculty is required to achieve expertise. Over the course of the semester, students will read, discuss, and write reviews on approximately thirty books, chosen prior to the start of the course in coordination with the instructor. The course is open to students in other disciplines who wish to achieve specialization in an American Studies-related field.
D) Elimination of three units of the current total required units of coursework for both the Ph.D. (from 48 to 45 credits) and M.A. (from 33 to 30 credits)
● This change brings American Studies graduate program requirements into line with those of other graduate programs in the Humanities and the Social Sciences at UHM, and with American Studies programs nationally. It also enhances students’ opportunity to move through their graduate programs within the timeline provided on the American Studies website and by the Office of Undergraduate Education.
● In this configuration, full-time students can complete most coursework required for the Ph.D. in five semesters of intensive full-time study. The goal is to enable most Ph.D. students (absent extenuating circumstances) to complete both Qualifying and Comprehensive Exams, and thus achieve ABD status, by the beginning of their fourth year of study. For M.A. students this change enhances the likelihood that students will complete their degree by the end of their second year in the program.
● This change also enhances the likelihood that students interested in the existing certificate programs in Museum Studies and Historic Preservation will be able to complete a certificate while pursuing a Ph.D.
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.