Unit: Philosophy
Program: Philosophy (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Tue Oct 09, 2012 - 1:33:45 pm

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

1. Philosophical reading competence in a philosophically significant language other than English.

2. Reading and research competence in English.

3. Knowledge and understanding of the Western philosophical tradition and where applicable a non-Western tradition.

4. Ability to participate in a field of contemporary philosophical endeavor.

5. Ability to conduct and write up publishable research.

6. Mastery of a specific topic.

7. Ability to express and defend their views in oral presentations.

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

Department Website URL: www.hawaii.edu/phil
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: N/A
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online: NA

3) Select one option:

No map submitted.

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) Did your program engage in any program assessment activities between June 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012? (e.g., establishing/revising outcomes, aligning the curriculum to outcomes, collecting evidence, interpreting evidence, using results, revising the assessment plan, creating surveys or tests, etc.)

No (skip to question 14)

6) For the period June 1, 2011 to September 30, 2012: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

The key change to the doctoral program curriculum that occurred in the AY 2011-12 was the replacement of the contemporary area exam with a contemporary issues exam requirement. For several years (from about 2002 to 2011) we had been committed to offering students a choice of four topics within which to write their contemporary area exam: ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, and aesthetics. In preparing students to sit an exam in one of these fields, we had also been committed, in principle at least, to offering a preparatory graduate seminar in each of these four fields every second year. With the departures in recent years of five full professors, by 2011 it had become clear that offering such seminars every two years had become a practical impossibility. Thus last year we introduced a requirement that, instead of passing a contemporary area exam (with both a written and oral component), students would be expected to take for credit (and pass an exam in) two courses that carried a new CI (contemporary issues) designation. Two professors (Bontekoe and Tanke) offered CI courses last year, and Bontekoe at least paid close attention to how well the change in exam format worked. (Tanke was too new to the department to be able to compare the CI exams with the older contemporary area exams.) In the spring, there was some general faculty discussion about how the introduction of the CI requirement was faring. But given that it was agreed the CI requirement would be given a three-year tryout, these discussions were still quite preliminary.

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

Bontekoe has served on many contemporary area exam committees in the past, and was easily able to compare the quality of the exams produced under the new CI format to determine whether or not the change produced a drop-off in quality. No such drop-off was noted; indeed, quite the reverse. Because the CI exam was more closely tailored to the material actually covered in the graduate seminar, the written exams under the CI format tended to be more on-topic and comprehensive in coverage than were those produced under the contemporary area exam format.

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

As stated, last year only two CI courses were offered--one by Bontekoe in ethics, and one by Tanke in aesthetics. Only Bontekoe was in a position to compare the results produced under the new format with what had gone before.

9) 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)

10) 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)

11) For the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goal(s) stated in Question #6:
Summarize the actual results.

The actual results are still preliminary. As stated earlier, the introduction of the CI requirement in the doctoral program is being given a three-year tryout. More formal evaluations of how successful the change to this format has been will be undertaken next year.

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

If the results of our experiment with the CI format prove unsatisfactory, we will need to reconsider the way in which we try to provide our doctoral students with competence in the contemporary debates within their chosen field of expertise. It may, in that case, become necessary to return to some form of the contemporary area exam format.

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

14) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please explain.
Or, if the program did engage in assessment activities, please add any other important information here.

When the CI format is formally reviewed, doctoral students will be asked for their assessment of its satisfactoriness as well. In the meantime, we will keep a close eye on our placement record of our Ph.D. grads, since competence in contemporary issues tends to be something that potential employers are looking for.