Unit: Sociology
Program: Sociology (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Mon Nov 26, 2012 - 2:41:20 pm

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

1. Know basic theories in the discipline of sociology and theories relevant to particular subfields.  Be able to apply relevant theoretical concepts to frame a research problem and to interpret the theoretical implications of a research project.

2. Know basic quantitative and qualitative methods of conducting research in sociology and the ethical standards required to protect human subjects of research.  Be able to write a formal research proposal according to the conventions of the discipline, apply relevant quantitative or qualitative methods (including statistics) to a particular research problem, analyze the results, and report research findings appropriately using the conventions of these methods.

3 . Acquire a professional level of knowledge in selected subfields of sociology in order to be equipped to teach a course on the subject or to develop a research proposal that will advance the field in this particular area.

4. Be able to carry out a research project that will contribute new knowledge to the field, using appropriate methods to conduct the research and analyze the results. This includes the ability to write up a well-organized and persuasive account of the research project for a professional audience, using the conventions of the discipline to present the research problem in context, articulate the reasons for the methods chosen and how they were implemented, present relevant data and analyze it appropriately, and articulate the significance and implications of the research for the advancement of the field. 

5. Be able to present research findings both orally in a professional presentation and through writing academic journal articles, following the conventions of the discipline.

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

Department Website URL: website currently being revised and new one not up yet
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: There is a detailed handbook students receive, which will be posted on the new website.
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online: students receive handbook during new student orientation
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online: posted through e-syllabi for CSS

3) Select one option:

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2012:

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.

All SLOs and assessment goals are assessed in the annual review of all graduate students, which is based in turn on data tracked through the department's graduate student database which gives the dates of completion of each step in the program.

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.

Satisfactory completion of required core courses, passing the qualifying review, passing the comprehensive exams, having the dissertation prospectus approved, completion of a doctoral dissertation approved by the committee and passage of the oral defense of the dissertation. In additiion to the actual evidence of completion of each milestone, the annual review of all graduate students by the full faculty assesses whether they are making satisfactory progress toward these goals and provides appropriate remedies if they are not doing so.

In the annual review of 2011-2012 conducted in February, 41 doctoral students were evaluated and 3 others were on leave. 11 were completing basic coursework, 10 were at the qualifying review or comprehensive exam stage, four were preparing a dissertation prospectus, and fifteen were at the dissertation research and writing stage. The review uses a rubric to assess whether students are making satisfactory progress according to the standard milestones in the program, are lagging and need a warning, or are in serious trouble. 31 of the students reviewed were judged to be making satisfactory progress, 3 received warnings, and 4 received serious warnings. One student was dropped by the graduate division for failure to complete her prospectus on time (she works fulltime) and is trying to reenter the program. One student was counseled out of the program after failing her comprehensives and confronting her inability to pass them a second time. One student was pressured to take his comps and is doing so this fall. Four students have been very slow to complete the dissertations and we continue to put pressure on them and try to support their competion.

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

41 doctoral students submitted evidence through the various processes that make up our evaluation system. That initial evidence was then evaluated by the faculty who teach the courses, serve on students' committees, and serve on the departmental qualifying review committee. Hence all 15 faculty members plus the outside members of doctoral committees participated in providing evidence that was evaluated because it is the results of their decisions that constitute the assessment evidence for the program as a whole.

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)
Other: each student's doctoral committee including outside members; full faculty in annual review

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)
Other: qualifying review uses rubrics at two levels; other committee decisions reached by collective agreement

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

Twelve students were completing the coursework that is mapped in SLOs 1, 2, and 3 at the basic level. Six students passed the Qualifying Review in 2011-2012 and one failed. This covers the mastery level for SLOs 12, 2, and part of it for 4. Three students passed written and oral comprehensive exams in 2011-2012. This covers mastery of SLO 3. Three students had their dissertation prospectus approved in 2011-2012. This certifies mastery of SLOs 1, 2, and 4. Many of our students have their papers accepted for presentation at academic conferences, and the department now supports 8-10 students per year with travel awards for this purpose. This fulfills SLO 5. Four students passed their dissertation oral, and four students had the final dissertation approved for submission to complete the degree (overlap of three in these two categories). These two steps complete mastery of SLOs 1, 2, 4, and 5. Several students also published research papers last year, which also demonstrates mastery of the SLOs.

I have answered this question in terms of the SLOs. The evaluations of progress through the annual review of graduate students were presented in an earlier question.

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

Our annual review of all graduate students assesses the progress of all doctoral students according to a rubric, provides feedback to the student, and allows the faculty to evaluate how well the program is doing overall. We have identified the points in the program where students begin to fall behind, which is primarily during preparation of the dissertation prospectus, with a second bottleneck during the dissertation writeup after data have been collected and the students return from fieldwork. We have determined that the primary reason for these delays is that the students must work fulltime or nearly fulltime in order to support themselves, and therefore cannot devote sufficient focused time to completing the prospectus and dissertation. These are general issues that the university is now beginning to recognize and deal with. The sociology department is trying to do its part by using its discretionary funds to provide more support for graduate students, but this is primarily in the form of assistantships that require half-time work. We have approved the establishment of a single dissertation writeup award that pays enough to support a student for a year without other work. That will be implemented for next year, but will only assist a single student.  The three students who were delayed completing a dissertation prospectus are all doing so this year, but we still have a large number of students who have completed fieldwork or data collection and are writing the dissertation.

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.

We have found the bottlenecks in the program primarily through the Graduate Division's annual evaluation process and not this assessment, which confuses SLOs that are evaluated multiple times throughout the doctoral program with the actual progress milestones by which we track our students and evaluate their progress. We find our regular evaluation of students by tracking their milestones and evaluating them at the annual review to be a much more satisfactory method of evaluation than the application of SLOs that this assessment process requires.

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.