Unit: Economics
Program: Economics (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Thu Oct 13, 2011 - 4:49:13 pm

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

The goal of the Ph.D. program is to train professional economists for careers in teaching, research and policy analysis. 

1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of economic theory and analytical and quantitative tools.

2. Students will demonstrate an ability to understand, integrate, and apply the various tools, concepts, and principles of economics and quantitative methods to analyze and to develop solutions to economic problems in a clear and concise written form.

3. Students will demonstrate a "frontier" level competency and familiarity with the literature in the student's perceived specialty area.

4. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct independent and original research in economics.

5. Students will have the skills necessary to qualify for teaching positions at the university and college levels, and for research positions in the public or private sector.

6. Program graduates will be able to obtain employment that uses the level of expertise obtained in the Ph.D. program.

7.  Students will complete these goals according to the timeline described in the graduate program guidelines.

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

Department Website URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/graduate/graduate.html
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/graduate/graduate.html
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/grad/gradprog_brochure.pdf
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:
Other: In the Department's intranet website accessible to faculty only.

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.

Assessment Question: How have our students been doing in terms of time to degree? What are the factors (if any) that delay graduate students' program completion?

Assessment Goal: Implement changes in graduate program rules to encourage students to complete the program on time.

SLOs targeted: Mainly #7, but this issue has important implications to #4 and #6.

7.  Students will complete these goals according to the timeline described in the graduate program guidelines.

4. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct independent and original research in economics.

6. Program graduates will be able to obtain employment that uses the level of expertise obtained in the Ph.D. program.

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.

Records from the Graduate Division and from our Department were used to assess the questions and meet the goals in Q5.

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

We used the progress reports of all recent graduate students (N=114) to compute each student's time to degree (the number of years it took them to complete the program).

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)

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)

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

Results 1: We observed better compliance with the Third year paper requirements following the August 1, 2009, Third Year paper requirement change. However, because the changes were only recently implemented, we will need to wait for a couple of more years to see actual results. (See below forthe change introduced in 2009.)

Result 2: The records indicate that the students tend to have their proposal defense later than expected (expected=some time in the fourth year) and that this needs to be addressed. Often, the PhD students do not defend their proposals until year 5.

Result 3: Time to graduation: Although they have recently flutuated, the time to graduation is still too long. The median is 6 years.

 Third-year research paper deadlines (Effective August 1, 2009)

"Upon completion of the paper, submit it to your adviser and readers, who will evaluate the paper against the two criteria identified above. They will assign a grade of “pass,” “high pass,” or “fail.” They will report the result on the field paper form. If revisions are needed, they will let you know and you will have one additional opportunity to submit a revised paper to satisfy the requirements. The deadline for submitting your paper is May 1 of your third year of graduate studies and the deadline for resubmissions is August 1. Students who do not meet these deadlines will be placed on academic probation in the fall semester of their fourth year of studies."

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

Based on the data we gathered on time to degree, we changed our graduate program rules. Specifically here are the changes introduced: 

1. Proposal defense (Effective August 1, 2011)

A student is placed on probation if the student had not passed the proposal defense at the end of their fourth year.

-A student could petition not to be on probation. Under extenuating circumstances such petitions are approved with the graduate committee’s consent.

-A graduate student on probation due to late proposal defense will be dismissed if the proposal is not defended within a semester.

-The graduate committee considers a student's petition to have the proposal defense beyond the middle of the fifth year. Such petitions are approved only with the graduate committee's consent.

2. On implementing the 7-year rule for graduation (Effective August 1, 2011)

The graduate program commits to a final deadline for graduation of 7 years from entry to M.A. or Ph.D. program for full-time students. The graduate committee considers students' petition for extensions (under extenuating circumstances) beyond 7 years. Such petitions are approved only with the graduate committee's consent. An extension given at a time is no longer than a semester.

3. With senior students, the advisor chair (or the third-year paper advisor if the student does not have an advisor) and the graduate chair hold a joint meeting once a year to review the student progress and address student concerns. 

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.

We have learned that having strict rules and deadline helps phd students to stay on track. Our previous rules allowed for procrastination on the part of the students, and ultimately hurt their job prospects. We learned that students who graduated on time (within seven years or less) received better jobs (tenure-track positions at universities, prestigious post-docs and other highly ranked research or teaching organizations) more often that the students who spent more than 7 years in our phd program.

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.

We plan to keep track of changes in time-to-degree in our students in the next several years. The effectiveness of these changes will be then reassessed.