Unit: American Studies
Program: American Studies (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Sat Nov 07, 2009 - 2:24:13 pm

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

  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 advanced writing skills.
  4. ·        Mastery of two fields of the student’s specialization, plus broad knowledge of the history of American Studies as a field.
  5. ·        Pedagogical skills and experience for college-level teaching.
  6. ·        Advanced research skills necessary to complete a book-length project of original scholarship.

2) Where are your program's SLOs published?

Department Website URL: http://www.hawaii.edu/amst/grad.htm
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: NA
Other: Annual assessment reports, departmental reviews.

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

All six SLOs examined. Special emphasis placed on 3 (critical analysis, writing), 4 (field mastery), and 6 (advanced research skills).

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

  • ·        How well are we teaching students to write various types of scholarship (e.g., book reviews, literature reviews, articles, dissertation)?
  • ·        How well are we mentoring student research?
  • ·        Are our students getting the proper balance of general vs. specialized content in our courses?
  • ·        How well are we doing on student advising and mentoring through all stages of the program?
  • ·        How well are we preparing students to teach general introductory courses at the college level?
  • ·        How well are we preparing students to apply for fellowships and succeed on the academic job market? 

7) State the Type(s) of Evidence Gathered

  • ·        PhD dissertations.
  • ·        Dissertation proposals
  • ·        Written answers and field outlines for qualifying exams.
  • ·        Annual progress reports completed for each graduate student.
  • ·        CAFÉ evaluations required for all courses taken by and taught by graduate students.
  • ·        Individual entry and exit interviews with the graduate chair.
  • ·        Select conversations with alumni.
  • ·        Advising appointments with graduate chair and departmental advisor/dissertation chair.
  • ·        Yearly feedback meetings with groups of graduate students.
  • ·        Curriculum committee and graduate chair review of select departmental syllabi.
  • ·        GA applicants submit statement of teaching philosophy and summary of teaching evaluations, if available. 

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

  • ·        Departmental advisors (dissertation chairs for ABD students) now interview every graduate student, review transcripts, examine work produced, and query instructors each spring in order to produce student progress reports. Graduate chair examines all progress reports in order to rank students, identify needed interventions/commendations, and to make an annual report to the faculty.
  • ·        Graduate chair meets with students entering and exiting the program to assess their expectations, experiences, concerns, and recommendations.
  • ·        Graduate committees examine dissertations, dissertation proposals, and written/oral exams for each advanced graduate student. Committee chairs subsequently report to the graduate chair.
  • ·        Department chair assesses student course evaluations and makes recommendations to individual instructors, the graduate chair, and curriculum committee.
  • ·        Undergraduate chair reviews student evaluations for GAs and also observes classroom performance.
  • ·        Faculty lecturers observe teaching by GA section leaders and host weekly meetings on pedagogy.
  • ·        Faculty awards committee identifies outstanding students based on transcripts and annual progress reports and then conducts further evaluations in order to select fellowship and award recipients.
  • ·        GA selection committee evaluates student applicants and performance. 

9) State How Many Pieces of Evidence Were Collected

  • ·        Written: progress reports (approx 80/year), student evaluations (~200/year), Dissertations (~2/year), Proposals (~3/year), and Qualifying Exams (~4/year), syllabi (~8/year).
  • ·        Oral: entry interviews (~3/year) and exit interviews (~2/year), select alumni interviews (~2/year), departmental advisor meetings (~120/year).

10) Summarize the Actual Results

  • ·        Vast majority of examined syllabi reinforce program SLOs.
  • ·        Exit interviews suggest general satisfaction with the program design, with the glaring exception of insufficient financial aid.
  • ·        Café evaluations generally outstanding with a couple of exceptions we’re working on.
  • ·        New progress reports helped identify students who need help or who are doing exceptionally well and also encouraged greater faculty-student involvement.
  • ·        Some students requesting a required course on critical theory, another on writing/research methods.
  • ·        Some students taking too long to degree, stalling out after courses at the qualifying exam or dissertation stages.
  • ·        Alumni generally offer an even more favorable review of program design than graduating students, mainly because they’ve come realize that some of our rather onerous requirements helped them get into other graduate programs or do better on the job market. 

11) Briefly Describe the Distribution and Discussion of Results

  • ·        Discussion of student work, program design, and assessment in various faculty meetings; faculty retreat planned in order to more systematically review the entire program.
  • ·        Graduate chair evaluated all progress reports, often requested follow-up information from departmental advisor and/or from student. Interventions in some cases.
  • ·        Several meetings with department chair, graduate chair, and undergraduate chair to discuss post-courses time-to-degree delay.
  • ·        Curriculum committee meetings on syllabi, curriculum map, and classroom pedagogy.
  • ·        Spring meeting called of all graduate students to solicit feedback and recommendations.
  • ·        GA selection committee annual reports on GA performance at faculty meeting. 

12) Describe Conclusions and Discoveries

See above, question 10. 

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

  • ·        In order to ensure more intensive advising and better supervision of students through every step of the program, every graduate student upon matriculation is now assigned a departmental advisor who writes an annual progress report on that student, which is then reviewed and approved by the graduate chair. After passing her comprehensive exams, the student’s dissertation chair becomes her departmental advisor.
  • ·        Common question set mandated for Café evaluation to facilitate easier comparisons within the department.
  • ·        Curriculum committee is starting to review all departmental syllabi with an eye toward better harmonization, attention to student needs, and program SLO reinforcement.
  • ·        Graduate chair and department chair drawing up plans to expedite time to degree.
  • ·        In addition to placing more emphasis on teaching writing and research skills, we have also decided to gradually increase our admissions standards and thus constrict our enrollments, so that we provide closer attention to students most likely to excel in the program and succeed on the academic job market.
  • ·        Graduate chair building an online archive of qualifying exam fields, dissertation proposals, and dissertations started.
  • ·        Faculty have organized annual or biennial workshops on field exams, dissertation proposals, conference presentations, fellowship applications, and the job market.
  • ·        New course created to emphasize advanced research and writing skills, AMST 640: Writing for Publication. 

14) Reflect on the Assessment Process

  • ·        Graduate advising and progress report system very helpful.
  • ·        Assessment reporting process rather onerous, given that the format changes each year and given that our office remains understaffed.
  • ·        Hesitant to undertake more ambitious assessment initiatives without full staff and technical support for fear of hampering faculty research productivity. 

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.