Unit: Sociology
Program: Sociology (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Fri Nov 06, 2009 - 1:42:27 pm

1) List your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs).

1. Know basic theories in the discipline of sociology and theories relevant to particular subfields

2. Be able to apply relevant theoretical concepts to frame a research problem and to interpret the theoretical implications of a research project.

3. Know basic quantitative and qualitative methods of conducting research in sociology.

4. Be able to apply relevant quantitative or qualitative methods (including statistics) to a particular research problem, analyze the results, and report research findings appropriately using the conventions of these methods.

5. Be able to write a formal research proposal according to the conventions of the discipline.

6. Be able to write a publishable academic journal article to report research results, following the conventions of the discipline.

7. Be able to present research findings orally following the conventions of the discipline, and to respond to questions from the audience.

8. Acquire a professional level of knowlege in selected subfields of sociology in order to be equipped to teach a course on the subject or to develop a research proposal that will advance the field in this particular area.

9. Be able to carry out a research project that will contribute new knowledge to the field, using appropriate methods to conduct the research and analyze the results.

10. Be able to write up a well-organized and persuasive account of the research project for a professional audience, using the conventions of the discipline to present the research problem in context, articulate the reasons for the methods chosen and how they were implemented, present relevant data and analyze it appropriately, and articulate the significance and implications of the research for the advancement of the field. 

2) Where are your program's SLOs published?

Department Website URL:
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:

3) Upload your program's current curriculum map(s) as a PDF.

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2009:

4) What percentage of courses have the course SLOs explicitly stated on the course syllabus, department website, or other publicly available document? (Check one)


5) State the SLO(s) that was Assessed, Targeted, or Studied

SLOs are assessed through the following means:

1. Evaluation of student performance in Soc. 611 and Soc. 612 for basic theories, plus relevant portions of other substantice seminars for the theories of those subfields.

2. Assessed by departmental committee that evaluates two papers submitted for the qualifying review, and subsequently in the dissertation prospectus and the doctoral dissertation.

3. Evaluation of student performance in Soc. 605, 606, and other specialized graduate methods seminar as well as substantive seminars that require student research projects.

4. Assessed by departmental committee that evaluates two papers submitted for the qualifying review, and subseqently in the dissertation prospectus and the doctoral dissertation, as well as in substantive seminars that require student research projects.

5. Evaluated in student performance in Soc. 606 and then assessed through committee evaluations of the dissertation prospectus and sometimes also in comprehensive exam questions.

6. Before completion of the doctoral program, students are required to prepare and submit a journal article for publication, and to review reviewer comments with their advisor. Most of our students publish journal articles before completing the program. They also regularly submit papers for peer review and presentation at national meetings.

7. Students participate in local, regional, and national professional meetings at which they present their research for a professional audience. This ability is also developed in seminar presentations and is assessed at the dissertational oral defense.

8. Assessment by the student's committee of comprehensive exams in two selected fields, which require the student to develop an appropriate reading list under committee supervision and then write a week-long take home exam on the selected fields.

9. Assessment of qualifying review papers, one of which usually presents original student research, and assessment of the doctoral dissertation.

10. Assessment of the doctoral dissertation, as well as earlier research projects on a smaller scale.

In addition to the assessment of individual students through coursework and committee approval of their comprehensive exams, dissertation prospectus, and dissertation, the department appoints a committee each semester to assess all papers submitted for the Qualifying Review and pass final judgment on whether they meet departmental standards. In addition, the department conducts an annual review of all graduate students each February. All faculty are required to attend, and chairs or advisors report on the current status of the students. The faculty then decides collectively whether the student is progressing at an appropriate rate through the designated milestones of the program, what level of evaluation the student should receive (satisfactory, warning of some problems, or serious problems threatening dismissal from the program). We are thus involved continuously in assessing the performance of our graduate students and helping them achieve our learning outcomes.

6) State the Assessment Question(s) and/or Goal(s) of Assessment Activity

See previous detailed response. Different assessment activities deal with different issues.

7) State the Type(s) of Evidence Gathered

We manage our graduate student assessment through a database that records all of their progress points after they are admitted into the program. Prior to the annual review, the date is announced and students are reminded to check with their faculty advisor or chair to review where they are in their program and what progress they have made since the previous review. Committee changes and other data are updated in the database, and then each faculty member receives a printout for every student, indicating which of the milestones have been completed and what the results of previous annual reviews were.

The 2009 annual review of graduate students reviewed 48 doctoral students. In addition, two students took and passed the Qualifying Review in fall 2008 and two students took and passed the Qualifying Review in spring 2009. Several students took comprehensive exams, several subsequently had their dissertation prospectus approved, and five completed dissertations in the 2008-2009 academic year. Progress on all of these various milestones was also assessed in the annual review.

8) State How the Evidence was Interpreted, Evaluated, or Analyzed

As noted previously qualifying review papers are assessed by a departmental committee separate from the student's own guidance committee; comprehensive exams, the dissertation prospectus, and the dissertation itself are assessed by the student's own committee. All faculty must attend the annual review at which the progress of all graduate students is assessed.

9) State How Many Pieces of Evidence Were Collected

No sampling is used. All 48 doctoral students in the program were assessed in the annual review. Two qualifying review papers were assessed for each student taking the qualifying review. One set of comprehensive exams was assessed for each student taking the comps; one dissertation prospectus was assessed for each student preparing a dissertation prospectus, and one dissertation was assessed for each doctoral student who completed the program.

10) Summarize the Actual Results

All students taking the Qualifying Review in 2008-2009 passed. One student failed comprehensives and will be allowed to repeat them this year. All others passed. Several students passed dissertation prospectus stage and five completed dissertations successfully.

In the annual review held in February, 48 students were reviewed. thirty-nine were found to be mkaing satisfactory progress at their particular level of the doctoral program. Five students were identified as starting to fall behind and remedial actions were taken in each case. Of those, one at the Qualifying review level was encouraged to take a leave of absence to stabilize his personal situation and has done so; of the three students at the comprehensive exa stage, one is taking a leave of absence this coming spring, one is returning from leave this spring, and the third is currently getting her committee together and making progress. One student at the advanced dissertation level has arranged to  take leave from his teaching position in Thailand and return to Honolulu to complete his dissertation.  Four students were identified as having serious problems despite previous warnings. Of two who were at the comprehensive exam level, one has withdrawn from the program and the other is pending. One student who has not been able to make progress for several years was dropped from the program, and another at the advanced dissertation stage who recently had a baby has taken a year's leave of absence.

11) Briefly Describe the Distribution and Discussion of Results

The annual review, as well as all committee assessments, a discussed as they are happening. They are collective evaluations. All students receive a formal letter with the results of the annual review. The student's chair also receives a copy of the letter and another copy goes into the student's file. The code for the letter level is entered into our database and the information is included in the packet on each student's progress that faculty receive prior to the annual review.

12) Describe Conclusions and Discoveries

We feel that our assessment of doctoral students is comprehensive and effective. Our students know what is expected of them and they strive to meet those standards under faculty guidance. The faculty is able and willing to make fair judgments that maintain the quality of the program, and they also work hard with individual students to make sure they develop the skills to meet our standards.

It is quite clear that most of the problems that delay our students' progress are life issues such as work, personal or family illness, or other caregiving responsibilities that limit the time they can spend on their academic work. The annual review helps make faculty aware of these issues so that we can respond compassionately and support students so they will eventually succeed in the program.

Students are moving through the program more rapidly since we removed one intermediate requirement between the qualifying review and the comprehensives that had become a major obstacle delaying progress. We are very proud of the quality of research our students produce and academic and research positions they obtain after completing our program.

13) Use of Results/Program Modifications: State How the Program Used the Results --or-- Explain Planned Use of Results

We have no plans to change anything at present. The system is working effectively. Unfortunately, we cannot keep our students from having babies, or their family members from getting cancer. All we can do is help them make progress despite these difficulties.

14) Reflect on the Assessment Process

no. It all works well.

15) Other Important Information

16) FOR DISTANCE PROGRAMS ONLY: Explain how your program/department has adapted its assessment of student learning in the on-campus program to assess student learning in the distance education program.

17) FOR DISTANCE PROGRAMS ONLY: Summarize the actual student learning assessment results that compare the achievement of students in the on-campus program to students in the distance education program.