Unit: American Studies
Program: American Studies (BA)
Degree: Bachelor's
Date: Mon Nov 16, 2020 - 4:34:12 pm

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

1. Substantial knowledge of American history, society, and culture, as well as a basic appreciation of different scholarly approaches to American Studies

(1a. General education, 1b. Specialized study in an academic field, 1c. Understand Hawaiian culture and history, 2a. Think critically and creatively, 2b. Conduct research, 3a. Continuous learning and personal growth, 3b. Respect for people and cultures, in particular Hawaiian culture, 3c. Stewardship of the natural environment, 3d. Civic participation)

2. Critical thinking skills necessary to analyze a variety of cultural artifacts (literature, primary documents, film, music, etc.), as well as historical and present-day sociopolitical issues.

(1a. General education, 1b. Specialized study in an academic field, 1c. Understand Hawaiian culture and history, 2a. Think critically and creatively, 2b. Conduct research, 2c. Communicate and report, 3a. Continuous learning and personal growth, 3b. Respect for people and cultures, in particular Hawaiian culture, 3c. Stewardship of the natural environment, 3d. Civic participation)

3. Competence in scholarly writing and oral communication

(1a. General education, 1b. Specialized study in an academic field, 2a. Think critically and creatively, 2b. Conduct research, 2c. Communicate and report, 3a. Continuous learning and personal growth, 3d. Civic participation)

4. Basic research skills, including advanced research skills in one area of specialization (majors only).

(1a. General education, 1b. Specialized study in an academic field, 2a. Think critically and creatively, 2b. Conduct research, 2c. Communicate and report, 3a. Continuous learning and personal growth, 3d. Civic participation)

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

Department Website URL: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/amst/undergraduate/
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: We require that the SLOs appear on all undergraduate syllabi

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

Curriculum Map File(s) from 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) Does the program have learning achievement results for its program SLOs? (Example of achievement results: "80% of students met expectations on SLO 1.")(check one):

Yes, on some(1-50%) of the program SLOs
Yes, on most(51-99%) of the program SLOs
Yes, on all(100%) of the program SLOs

6) Did your program engage in any program learning assessment activities between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2020?

No (skip to question 17)

7) What best describes the program-level learning assessment activities that took place for the period November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2020? (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 other pressing issue related to student learning achievement for the program (explain in question 8)

8) Briefly explain the assessment activities that took place since November 2018.

Between November 1, 2018 and October 31, 2020, the American studies department has continued with assessment activities as outlined in the previous assessment report. These are as follows:

  • In February-March 2020 we changed the degree requirements for the major in American Studies to support students' timely progress toward degree completion. Specifically, we eliminated one of our core courses, AMST 483, which was focused on having students complete a research proposal for the Senior capstone. Instead, we are matching students with indiividual faculty whose own research and expertise can guide our majors through their capstone projects more efficiently. Originally, the three core courses required for the major, AMST 383: Approaches to American Studies, and AMST 483 and AMST 484 (Senior Capstone sequence), required a three-semester sequencing of courses, which often adversely affected transfer and upper-division students declaring the major later in their academic careers. With this revision the senior capstone will now be completed in a single semester.  


  • We also changed the major requirements to allow for an additional lower division AMST elective to count toward major requirements. Prior to this change, we only allowed one 100+level AMST elective to count toward the major; however, it has not been uncommon for students to take 2 lower division AMST electives to fulfill general education requirements before becoming AMST majors. These changes were approved by CALL and the OVCAA for application in Spring 2021. While remaining rigorous, these amendments will serve our students in the timely and successful completion of their degrees and help streamline our major requirements.


  • For AMST 484, our Senior capstone course, we are continuing to offer an alternative option for students to complete the requirement via an internship or creative project that also incorporates a substantial amount of writing and research. So far, three students have chosen this option (all of the students are graduating in Spring 2020) and are actively working on their projects now.


  • Through these new requirements we are continuing to assess the quality of student capstone projects as an indicator of the success of the required core course sequence, whether via the traditional 20-page thesis or internship/creative project. The evaluation of capstones from the previous 2 years indicates that AMST majors would benefit from increased exposure to research methods in the field, opportunities to apply research and other skills via an internship to explore possible career options, and opportunities to produce creative projects related to students’ interest in the field. These are explored in AMST 383 and students undertake their projects in AMST 484.


  • To add further exposure to research methods in AMST as well as writing skills, our curriculum committee is focused on creating benchmarks or guidelines for our undergraduate classes.  In particular, we will be suggesting writing assignments and activities appropriate for 100-, 200-, 300-, and 400-level AMST courses and asking our faculty and instructors to incorporate these assignments into their classes.  For example, we found through interviews with our students that many of them have not been assigned a paper over 7 pages prior to beginning work on their capstone projects.  As a result, many of them are initially intimidated by the capstone and feel underprepared, having little to no strategies in place for working on a major research project. By creating benchmarks or guidelines for our undergraduate classes, we hope to scaffold research and writing skills for students so they can be better prepared for undertaking such research, whether for a 20-page paper or for a creative project or internship.


  • We are continuing to use an exit poll (anonymous via the Survey Monkey platform) for our outgoing majors as a means to collect and analyze data regarding our students’ experience in the program. We are also continuing to poll our students on the success of our courses in meeting departmental SLOs through at least two mandatory advising meetings per year with each of our majors and most of our minors. These sessions also provide valuable feedback on the ability of our students to meet their educational goals, their preparedness to complete capstone projects, as well as their general preparedness for higher education and/or career goals after graduation. Though these are qualitative rather than quantitative measures, they provide a valuable source of feedback on our undergraduate program and help to indicate areas in which we need to innovate or shift our approach to better meet our departmental SLOs, and other departmental priorities in regards to our undergraduate program.


  • We will also be continuing with our Curriculum Committee (under whom the job of assessment falls) to brainstorm about new departmental strategies to implement various assessment activities going forward.


9) What types of evidence did the program use as part of the assessment activities checked in question 7? (Check all that apply.)

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

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

Senior capstones: 12 students (one faculty member; professional judgment/qualitative measure)

AMST 382/383 students: 28 students (two faculty members; professional judgment/qualitative measure)

Major/minor individual and focus group meetings: approximately 40 students (undergraduate advisor; professional judgment/qualitative measure)

11) 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)

12) 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)

13) Summarize the results from the evaluation, analysis, interpretation of evidence (checked in question 12). For example, report the percentage of students who achieved each SLO.

  • 8% of students (1 of 12 students) enrolled in AMST 484 during the assessment period struggled to complete a successful capstone project (during the Spring 2020 semester). That student shared that she suffered hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is now working to finish her capstone and graduate in Fall 2020.  All other students met capstone requirements and were pleased with their research performance. The faculty overseeing the capstones also was pleased with student research and writing. Based on this data, we will continue to revise assignments and approaches within our core major sequence (AMST 383 and AMST 484) to focus more attention on foundational skill building across the core. Specifically, we will use AMST 383 as a course in which students may explore potential research projects to undertake for their senior capstone.
  • According to our exit poll survey results, students on the whole continue to feel well served by the major and reflect positively on the success of AMST courses in meeting departmental SLOs.

14) 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)

15) Please briefly describe how the program used its findings/results.

Evaluation of the capstone projects in AMST 484, combined with the evaluation of student coursework in AMST 383, and information gathered through individual advising sessions, led to the following changes:

  • Revised core requirements by eliminating 1 course requirement (AMST 483). 
  • Revised major requirements to allow for an additional lower-division AMST course elective to count toward the major requirements.

Though we are still working to create research and writing assignments for various levels of AMST courses, we recognize that this could help our students be better prepared for beginning and completing their capstone projects in their senior year at UHM.

16) 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.

The Curriculum Committee of our department (under whom the work of assessment falls), additionally found that students can and should have access to AMSt faculty via lower dovision courses.  Among our findings was that some of our undergraduate students have only taken courses from our GAs and only 1 or 2 faculty members.  We hope to change this and enable students to have greater access to faculty by developing an AMST gateway course, which faculty will teach on a rotating basis.

17) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please justify.