Program: Sociology (BA)
Date: Tue Oct 08, 2013 - 6:14:48 pm
1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update as needed.
In the 2012-2013 academic year we continued the process of revising our department SLOs that began in 2010-2011. Our goal for the year was to refine one of our proposed SLOs, receive department approval for the refined SLO, and design and test a pilot questionnaire to measure undergraduate students’ learning based on the revised SLO. We accomplished all three tasks and the new SLOs are as follows:
“Students will have clear and effective verbal and written communication skills.”
We will be working to refine one more SLO in the 2013-2014 school year regarding students' abilities to understand and applicy sociological theories.
2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.
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: http://socialsciences.people.hawaii.edu/esyllabi/?subject=soc
3) Select one option:
- File (03/16/2020)
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) Did your program engage in any program assessment activities between June 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013? (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, 2012 to September 30, 2013: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.
Q1: In terms of the undergraduate students in your 400 level course this semester, please tell us what percent of students achieved exemplary, accomplished, acceptable, or below acceptable levels of clear and effective verbal communication skills (exemplary is A level, accomplished is B level, acceptable is C level, and below acceptable is C- and below) ,
Q2: In terms of the undergraduate students in your 400 level course this semester, please tell us what percent of students achieved exemplary, accomplished, acceptable, or below acceptable levels of clear and effective writing skills (exemplary is A level, accomplished is B level, acceptable is C level, and below acceptable is C- and below)
Q3. In terms of clear and effective verbal communication skills, please tell us what specific challenges that you faced and/or any suggestions for student improvement:
Q4 The department currently has the following definition of clear and effective writing skills
Students’ written work is clear and the meaning of ideas is effectively conveyed. The author displays a wide vocabulary and proper choice of words and exhibits proper sentence structure, some sentence variety, and cohesion between sentences. There are few errors in grammar and the author observes conventions of standard written English.
Considering these dimensions of undergraduate students’ writing abilities and considering undergraduate students who were sociology majors, what percent of students achieved exemplary, accomplished, acceptable, or below acceptable levels of clear and effective writing skills.
Q5: In terms of clear and effective writing skills, please tell us what specific challenges that you faced and/or any suggestions for student improvement:
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.
A survey was used that included close-ended and open-ended questions. The undergraduate committee contacted (by e-mail) all of the faculty members and regular instructors [referred to as faculty members below] currently teaching mastery level undergraduate courses in our department. The chair of the undergraduate committee asked faculty members to fill out a brief questionnaire on survey monkey. A link to the on-line survey was included in the e-mail. Three follow up reminder e-mails were sent.
8) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.
8 instructors submitted responses.
9) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)
Ad hoc faculty group
Persons or organization outside the university
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)
10) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)
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.
Based on our assessment this year, we learned the following:
1) That we need to remind faculty during meetings and at other points in the semester to include our SLOs in their courses where written and verbal communication skills are taught.
2) In the following, please note that the percentages reported below are based on category midpoints and not on actual numbers. Regarding verbal communication, we found that there was a fairly even distribution of students’ verbal clarity and effectiveness across the range of exemplary, accomplished, and acceptable categories. A clear majority (91.5%) of students were at or above acceptable levels of verbal skills. Specifically, an average of 36% of students achieved verbal skills at the exemplary level, 28% at the accomplished level, 25% at the acceptable level, and 8.5% at the below acceptable level.
3) In the following, please note that the percentages reported below are based on category midpoints and not on actual numbers.Regarding writing clarity and effectiveness, we also found that students’ skills were fairly evenly distributed across the range of exemplary, accomplished, and acceptable. Approximately 87% of students were at or above the acceptable level in terms of writing skills. Specifically, 23.5% of students achieving at the exemplary level, 31% at the accomplished level, 28.5% at the acceptable level, and 12.75% were below the acceptable level.
4) Of particular concern is the variance in the exemplary level for both of the verbal communication questions. The range is from 5% to 90% of students demonstrating exemplary achievement. We will discuss what the difference in instructors' reports might mean and how we might respond to this variance at an upcoming meeting.
5) We also included two open ended qualitative questions. Combining the qualitative and quantitative findings, here is what we learned:
Students Achieving Mastery
A large majority of our students are communicating at or above the "acceptable" level. Based on the 10 responses to our qualitative questions, this is due, at least in part, to numerous opportunities for improvement within classes. One respondent explained that 25 written assignments were required, ranging from concise summaries of newspaper articles with students' critiques to a comprehensive final research paper based on original research. Another respondent provided extensive feedback on weekly written assignments, which was used effectively by the better students. A third respondent commended students who "mastered not only the content of the course but also the heavy writing demands." Multiple opportunities for improvement also helped students with their oral presentation skills, as explained by one respondent who said that students "improved with repeated exercises over the semester."
Students Needing Improvement
When it comes to verbal communication, an estimated 8.5% of our students did not communicate clearly or effectively. An analysis of the qualitative data indicated that their problems included a lack of confidence and poor organization in their verbal presentations. In addition, one instructor noted that several students had significant learning disabilities and other special needs that complicated the task of orally presenting their ideas.
Our assessment of written communication indicated that the writing skills of an estimated 12.75% of our students were below the acceptable level. The problems those students had were summarized by one respondent in this way: "Essays were disorganized; grammar was appalling; work was frequently not checked before submission; many students failed to submit work in a timely manner. We are talking basic, basic high-school level errors here. In addition, many students felt embarrassed about their work and were too ashamed to seek help at the writing center or with the department tutors despite me handing out flyers and encouraging them to go." Another respondent wrote, "Students continue to struggle with [sic] faced with a substantial writing assignment that requires organization and clarity in presentation. This may be attributed to their not being able to construct an outline to use headings and subheadings according to the American Sociological Association guidelines (ASA 2010:42)."
Strategies that helped students improve their oral communication skills included having students meet for small group discussions and then participate in a class discussion, which helped them overcome their shyness; making "time in class for students to present their ideas"; providing extra help to students who were having problems organizing their ideas; repeated exercises during the semester to help students overcome their nervousness; and staging live debates, which "helped [students] gain confidence with off-the- cuff speaking."
Strategies that helped students improve their writing skills included numerous writing assignments and regular feedback, as mentioned above. In addition, one respondent described a template strategy: "To assist students in developing a framework that facilitates a focused academic paper, partially completed assignment-specific word processing templates are useful to educate students. With each subsequent assignment, the associated template offers less and less 'direction' thereby reducing student dependency on templates ('weaning')."
12) State how the program used the results or plans to use the results. Please be specific.
We just compiled the results. We will be reporting these to the faculty during the next faculty meeting.
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.
Survey monkey is a very easy tool to use to distribute, complete, and analyze surveys. We will talk with the department about whether this tool was as quick and user friendly as we thought. We might want to change the qualitative response categories in our survey.