Unit: Urban & Regional Planning
Program: Urban & Regional Plan (MURP)
Degree: Master's
Date: Tue Oct 11, 2011 - 1:02:10 pm

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

Upon completion of the MURP degree, students should be able to:

 a.   Describe and explain historic, social and economic processes leading to the transformation of human settlements and their habitats;

 b.    Articulate justifications for planned interventions; 

c.    Think critically about how to create more socially just and environmentally sustainable regions, cities and communities;

d.    Apply methods of social and spatial analysis to gather, organize, display and interpret social-spatial information at a variety of scales; 

e.    Work with clients to clarify organizational, neighborhood or regional problems, generate and assess potential strategies to address these problems and assemble strategies in a plan or professional reports;

 f.     Collaborate with residents, agency officials and others to design and implement strategies for identifying, acknowledging, gathering, and collectively assessing and prioritizing individual and group perceptions and knowledge; 

g.    Make a public presentation of a plan, professional report or public commentary in a coherent and persuasive fashion;  

h.    Acknowledge and take responsibility for the ethical implications of the choices we make as professionals.

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

Department Website URL: http://www.durp.hawaii.edu/
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: http://www.durp.hawaii.edu/pages/academic/murp.html
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online: http://socialsciences.people.hawaii.edu/esyllabi/?subject=plan

3) Below is the link(s) to your program's curriculum map(s). If we do not have your curriculum map, please upload it as a PDF.

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2011:

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) For the period June 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

DURP faculty, staff and students are currently engaged in a major redevelopment of the Master Degree Program.  The impetus to revise the Master in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) curriculum is motivated by two primary factors: 1) to better integrate and utilize the teaching expertise of new faculty members and 2) in response to student concerns.

A departmental strategic planning retreat was held on September 16 and 17, 2011, to discuss the MURP (hereby MURP Retreat).  Faculty, staff and students participated. The first day was open to all interested students and the second to selected student representatives. 

Relevant topics discussed include:  What are our department’s values and how are they reflected in our pedagogy?  What is “core” (i.e. what are the things that all students should know)? How do we structure methods courses as well as electives?  What should the capstone experience(s) be?

6) State the type(s) of evidence gathered to answer the assessment question and/or meet the assessment goals that were given in Question #5.

DURP has a student-led organization called the University Students of Urban and Regional Planning (USURP) that is highly involved in departmental activities and decision-making.  USURP representatives attend each faculty meeting and provide input to the faculty on student concerns.  In these meetings, students voiced interest in the department’s course evaluation process and helped to update the department’s course evaluation system to use ECafe (as opposed to a paper-based survey on which DURP previously relied).  With the online mechanism, all faculty now make public their semester evaluations.

As part of the process to more systematically evaluate courses and curriculum, students voiced concern over the quantitative methods offerings.  The course Economics Analysis for Urban and Regional Planning was in transition and there were four instructors within a two-year span; and each taught the course in a different way.  This raised a clear need to harmonize the course curriculum.  As a starting point, the two faculty members who now teach this course regularly, along with the Department Chair, held a focus group discussion with current students (those who recently took the course) and recent graduates (to represent the needs of planning professionals).  While this conversation led to ideas to better integrate the various quantitative methods courses and harmonize curriculum within this course, it piqued interest in how to better lead students through the overall curriculum.  This was a major impetus to the MURP Retreat and ongoing curriculum development.

Evidence that was gathered for the strategic planning retreat included two surveys, for faculty and students.  They each included a SWOT analysis for the department (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) and the student survey (developed by the USURP representatives) additionally included questions on the overall DURP experience and faculty-student relationships. 

7) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

All twelve faculty and thirty-four students participated in the surveys.

8) 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: The results of the surveys were presented during the MURP Retreat. Results of the SWOT (faculty and student) were clustered by a third-party facilitator into common themes. USURP representatives additionally presented the results of the questions posed solely to students.

9) 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: All participants of the first day of the MURP Retreat were given eight “votes” by which to prioritize two stated Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The topics that resonated the most (i.e. had the most “votes”) with participants were then used as a starting point for discussion.

10) For the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goal(s) stated in Question #5:
Summarize the actual results.

The following are the summarized priority areas selected from the SWOT analysis:


  • Community connections and service learning
  • Recent new hires and upcoming position
  • Urban design course stream
  • Being a professional degree program
  • Foci on areas of planning research and education that are generally less addressed by most planning schools in the US
  • International emphasis
  • Planning in Asia/Environmental planning
  • Diverse, energetic, committed faculty
  • Student involvement in faculty projects


  • In need of curriculum redevelopment and updating
  • Balance of skills taught for local planning market and elsewhere
  • Inadequate advising for some students
  • Inadequate funding for students
  • Advertising for/to new students
  • More internship opportunities
  • More inter-disciplinary work


  • New faculty can bring renewal
  • Training and short-term course


  • Loss of institutional memory from recent and future faculty retirements

The following summarize the salient points of the student survey:

While the majority of students (80%) feel their “advisor is available and accessible” and are at least “satisfied” with the advising program (55%), not all students feel this way and thus there is room to improve faculty-student relationships.  For instance, while roughly a third of students (35%) feel a sense of community between faculty and students, the majority (62%) only “sometimes” feel this way.  Suggestions include more “pau hana” and informal events, brown bag lectures by faculty, and generally more open communication between faculty and students. 

In regards to curriculum, the majority of students (42%) feel that the current curriculum is either “mostly” or “completely” meeting their “focus in the planning field.”  Over half (54%), however, feel their needs are being only “somewhat met.”  The majority (65%) feel they are being “mostly” or “completely” “challenged in the classroom,” though 31% feel this only “somewhat.”  The most common suggestion is to include incorporating projects that develop skills directly applicable to planning professionals

11) State how the program used the results or plans to use the results. Please be specific.

The results of the survey were used as the primary input into the MURP Retreat.  After careful presentation, review and prioritization of the SWOT results and student survey, a substantial amount of the retreat was used to re-conceptualize the MURP experience; from entry into the department, the core, “fields,” and capstone.  Emphasis is now placed on “problem-based learning” and allowing students more flexibility in choosing their fields of study.  The flexible design is made to better serve students who aim to work locally, nationally, and internationally in terms of needed skill sets.

12) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries?
This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.

The primary outcome of the MURP Retreat is a working template for a new MURP curriculum.  This is an on-going process, however, and faculty are currently reviewing current course offerings and discussing new proposed “fields” of study.

A current tangible outcome of the MURP Retreat is to submit to Graduate Division to update a number of courses to better reflect their content, slightly alter their content, as well as propose several new courses.  For example, a methods course entitled “Qualitative Methods in Planning” and a seminar entitled “Comparative Planning Histories” are being proposed. 

13) Other important information.
Please note: If the program did not engage in assessment, please explain. If the program created an assessment plan for next year, please give an overview.

The MURP curriculum redevelopment is an on-going process and will not likely go into full effect until Fall 2013.  The new and modified course changes currently being submitted will go into effect in Fall 2012, if approved, and serve as a “bridge” to the new curriculum.  There is on-going discussion among the faculty and student representatives as to the creation of new “fields,” the capstone experience and evaluation of student learning.

DURP’s strategic planning process is also ongoing.  The next topic of discussion is the PhD program.