Student Learning Outcomes for English Majors in the Bachelor of Arts Program at Kansas State University
[Approved 9/24/03, revision approved 12/08; revision approved 11/16/11]
The English Department at Kansas State University is an academic community of professors and students who are committed to creative and analytical work in English, and dedicated to the primary goals of a liberal education: the ability to reason well, to think critically, to communicate effectively, and to appreciate excellent writing and thinking.
Upon completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree, English majors should be able to do the following:
- Generate a close reading of a text: recognize, understand, and explain a text's elements—for example, word choice, imagery, form, and connotations.
- Draw on relevant cultural and historical information to analyze and interpret a literary text.
- Demonstrate familiarity with British/American literary traditions, including prominent authors, genres, literary movements, and styles, as well as the historical and cultural contexts important to those traditions.
- Interpret texts from diverse literary traditions such as those distinguished by race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexual orientation, ideology, religion, or region, with reference to their specific literary, historical, and cultural contexts.
- Research and write focused, convincing analytical essays in clear, grammatical prose.
- Demonstrate integrative and independent thinking, originality, imagination, experimentation, problem solving, or risk taking in thought, expression, or intellectual engagement.
- Tailor writing for various audiences and purposes.
- Participate in discussions by listening to others' perspectives, asking productive questions, and articulating original ideas.
Assessment for Academic Year 2012-2013
In 2012-2013, the English Department assessed Outcome # 6: “Demonstrate integrative and independent thinking, originality, imagination, experimentation, problem solving, or risk taking in thought, expression, or intellectual engagement,” and Outcome # 7: “Tailor writing for various audiences and purposes.” For Outcome 6, 25% of the students assessed performed at an exemplary level (“High Pass” or “A” level work); 60% performed at an advanced level; only 14% performed at the minimum level or below. For Outcome #7, 34% of the students assessed performed at an exemplary level; 42% performed at an advanced level; 22% performed at the minimum level or below. In some cases, students were practicing process writing and revision, resulting in a higher evaluation than if they only prepared one draft of a given assignment. However, most members of the English Department are committed to the practice of process writing and believe that all students would benefit from the opportunity to revise and improve their work. Faculty who participated in the assessment process during 2012-13 for Outcome 6 noted that students need more exercises in class or more scaffolding leading up to major assignments, but they welcomed opportunities to help students think in innovative and imaginative ways about their assignments. For Outcome 7, faculty identified assignments that pushed students to consider audiences other than the instructor. While students at times struggled to identify what these public or specialized audiences might know and need to understand, instructors found the process of teaching students to write for specific audiences valuable and worthwhile. One of the instructors assessing this outcome notes, “I see a lot of power in this method, namely real-world ‘prompts’ with audiences determined by externally derived writing tasks.” Faculty will continue to pursue opportunities for students to conceive of and experience real-world writing experiences in their K-State English courses.