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; revision approved 5/7/14; revision approved 1/29/15]
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 literary traditions pre- and post-1800, including prominent authors, genres, literary movements, and styles.
- Analyze underrepresented experiences and cultural diversity, including issues of race, gender, class, sexuality, and ethnicity, through the study of ethnic minority or non-Western texts.
- 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.
In 2016-2017, the English Department assessed Outcome # 1: “Generate a close reading of a text: Recognize, understand, and explain a text's elements—for example, word choice, imagery, form, and connotations,” and Outcome # 8: “Participate in discussions by listening to others’ perspectives, asking productive questions, and articulating original ideas.” For Outcome 1, 85% of the total number of assessed students met minimum expectations. 72% met advanced expectations. 34% met exemplary expectations. For Outcome #8, 100% of the total number of assessed students met minimum expectations. 73% met advanced expectations. 53% met exemplary expectations. On exit surveys, 100% of graduating seniors who completed the surveys felt that the English major had prepared them to achieve both outcomes “very well” in Fall 2016. In Spring 2017, 89% of graduating seniors who completed the exit survey felt that the major prepared them in these areas “very well.” Faculty who participated in the assessment process for Outcome #1 crafted assignments that assessed students’ close reading skills in ENGL 361, British Survey 1, and in ENGL 465, Introduction to Creative Nonfiction. Faculty assessing this outcome continue to believe that close reading is an essential skill taught within the major at all levels of the program. Faculty who participated in the assessment process for Outcome # 8 taught ENGL 698, the capstone course for the English major, and ENGL 500, Theory/Practice of Writing Centers. For Outcome 8, faculty experimented with different techniques for assessing student discussion and listening skills. While faculty identify strategies for improving their assignments and enhancing student learning, they do not feel that the outcomes need to be changed. For 2017-2018, the Department will conclude its three-year assessment of Outcome # 1: “Generate a close reading of a text: recognize, understand, and explain a text's elements—for example, word choice, imagery, form, and connotations,” and it will commence a three-year period of assessment for Outcome # 2, “Draw on relevant cultural and historical information to analyze and interpret a literary text.”
The Master of Arts Program in English at Kansas State University is an academic community of professors and graduate students who are intellectually engaged, committed to creative and critical work in English, and dedicated to advanced research in the discipline as well as the primary goals of a liberal education: the ability to reason, think critically, communicate effectively, and appreciate excellent writing and thinking.
The Program values:
- Critical writing, carefully honed and revised, informed by current research in the problem or field, and aware of its own critical assumptions
- Creative work, carefully honed and revised, informed by the reading of other writers, including contemporary authors, and aware of its own exigence and aims
- Careful explication of texts
- Breadth of reading and breadth of historical and cultural knowledge
- Critical engagement with expressions of cultural diversity and underrepresented experiences
- Collaborative, interactive, and meaningful learning and instruction
It is the expectation of the Program that its students will join this academic community and share these intellectual and disciplinary values. Though no specific pieces of knowledge can define the Master of Arts in English for every student, upon completion of the Master of Arts degree, graduate students in English are expected to demonstrate the ability to do the following:
- Read carefully, with historical and contextual perspective
- Conduct research within the field of English
- Think analytically and critically about literature and language
- Recognize and analyze the perspectives and assumptions that they and other readers and critics bring to texts and interpretations
- Write well, with an understanding of audience and purpose
- Exhibit substantial knowledge about literature and language in the context of specialization
- Demonstrate integrative and independent thinking, originality, imagination, experimentation, problem solving, or risk taking in thought, expression, or intellectual engagement
During the evaluation period (2009-2013), assessment data was collected for 104 M.A. students. Faculty evaluated student performance through the Oral Exam rubric, which assesses the M. A. Program’s seven student learning outcomes. In addition, each student’s Major Professor completed a “Final Writing Project or Thesis Oral Examination Report,” which offers a descriptive summary of the student’s accomplishments of our learning outcomes, along with specific consideration of two of our SLOs. Results demonstrated that the vast majority of students met or exceeded proficiency for each learning outcome. Particularly strong results were recorded for SLO 2, “Conduct Research within the Field of English” and SLO 7, “Demonstrate Integrative and Independent Thinking, Originality, Imagination, Experimentation, Problem-Solving, or Risk Taking.”