Data-Based Decisions: American Studies

2020-21  2019-20  2017-18  2018-19  2016-17  2015-16   2014-15    

Asessment for 2020-21

Data-based decisions correlated to direct measures

Overall, this group of seven American Studies graduates met the expectations for the learning objectives for the English dept. For each learning objective, the majority of the assignments met the “Acceptable.” Of the three objectives, the assignments were most successful in meeting Learning Objective #3, and we are pleased that American Studies students seem to be doing well with communicating ideas effectively in writing. American Studies students were least successful in meeting Learning Objective #1,  which asks them to reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments. In their comments on the rubrics, the committee noted that many of the assignments for American Studies come from disciplines outside of English, so some of these learning objectives are not always very applicable to the assignments, which contributed to lower scores, particularly in the case of Learning Objective #1.

The American Studies assessment committee has expressed frustration and concern with using English department assessment objectives to evaluate American Studies courses, many of which are not designed to meet English department objectives. The English department curriculum chairs are planning to discuss the assessment process in detail in January 2022, and Keri Holt will bring up these issues for discussion. At present, the American Studies program does not find these three objectives very useful for evaluating American Studies assignments.  

For now, based on this data, the faculty in the American Studies program are pleased to see that the majority of our graduates are meeting all three learning objectives in a satisfactory manner.

We would like to have more students meeting these learning objectives to an “Exceptional” degree. To this end, we will continue to remind all instructors of these learning objectives at the start of each semester and encourage them to develop and continue to manage their courses in ways that encourage students to accomplish those objectives. We will also continue to encourage AS faculty to use the Writing Fellows program for additional support to help students meet Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing   

Data-based decisions that rely on indirect measures

Since no indirect measures are available for 2020-21, the American Studies faculty has decided to continue to work on the responses to the indirect measures from the 2019-20 assessment report. The responses from the student interviews for 2019-20 revealed the following four areas of focus, and we have developed specific plans for response to each area (see charts below).

1. Strengths of program

- The diversity of options for courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available and opportunities to combine them in unique ways.

- The focus on developing strong critical thinking skills in a range of contexts and disciplines

- The flexibility of the program and ability to pursue topics and classes that suit individual interests.

- Students play a central role in designing their degree program and taking responsibility for their academic choices and focus. 

- The program offers useful areas for students to develop a clear focus for their coursework

- The internships are useful for providing hands-on professional experience.

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to ensure that we offer diverse courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives for students enrolled in the program

- Continue to ensure that the program remains flexible and allows students freedom to design their own focus and choose their own courses.

- Continue to ensure that the courses we offer for AS credit provide areas for students to develop a specific emphasis

- Find opportunities for students to share their internship experiences to help promote the program and the career opportunities it offers

 

2. Current Courses and Program Requirements

(quality, accessibility, communication)

- Students are pleased with the diversity of the course offerings.

- The information sheets listing the AS courses available each semester continue to be very helpful. These lists make it easy for students to find AS courses and design a more consistent and focused academic program.

- Most students develop a clear focus for their coursework. For 2019-20, these areas of focus included a specific disciplinary focus (Political Science, JCOM). The number of students developing a clear focus for their coursework continues to show steady improvement since the indirect data previously collected.

- Students mentioned that Susie Parkinson continues to be very helpful in advising students on their coursework and selecting classes.

-Students also continue to note that ENGL 2630 is an important course for introducing students to the AS program.

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to encourage students to develop a specific focus for their coursework through faculty advising and working closely with Susie Parkinson.

- Continue to provide an information sheet listing available AS courses for each semester and find opportunities to distribute this information to students through information sessions, an email list, and/or website.

 

3. Challenges within the program and ideas for improvement

Students identified challenges or gaps in relation to a) community and b) career guidance

CAREER GUIDANCE

- One student noted that s/he would like more advice and guidance on career options for people with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies.

COMMUNITY

- Students would like to develop a stronger sense of community among current AS majors/minors.

In response to this feedback, we will…

CAREER GUIDANCE

- We will continue to collect data from AS alumni about their current careers after graduation and feature this information on our website and brochures/fliers

- We will work on planning mini-speaker events where we invite alumni to speak about their career paths, perhaps in a Zoom event, and also feature this information on the website.

COMMUNITY

-  Hold an “end of year” celebration event for graduating seniors, which may involve presentations of their capstone portfolio or alternative capstone reflection essays

-  Invite majors/minors to attend a USU campus event (movie night, speaker events, discussion group, internship session, etc.)with AS faculty members in the spring semester

- We will work on promoting program events on our new AS program website.

 

4. Career plans and activities for AS majors, post-graduation

- Plans to pursue career in museum work, beginning with a job at USU’s NEHMA

- Interested in pursuing a career in the US foreign service or working for the Peace Corps

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue gathering information from alumni about current jobs/careers and make this career info available to students through our once-a-semester program info sessions.

- Draw on this specific job information in brochures, fliers, posters, and website to promote the program and recruit students, in conjunction with CHaSS career-promotion initiatives

Assessment for 2019-20

In 2019-20, we had over twice the number of graduates from the previous. Overall, this group of nine American Studies graduates met the expectations for the learning objectives for the English dept. Two of the students met the “unacceptable” level on various elements of their final papers, but the committee was quick to point out that at least one of these was because the assignment we reviewed did not call for students to fulfill Learning Objective 2. The bulk of our assessments came in the middle tiers of “marginal” and “acceptable,” with the bulk falling into the latter category. There were four instances where a student’s ability to meet a specific learning objective was “exceptional” (Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments; Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing; Learning Objective 3: Communicates ideas effectively in writing), which is also very good.

This data shows is slightly below what we found in our 2018-19 assessment report, but that report was likely skewed by the small sample size (only three students graduated that year). No students’ work fell into the “unacceptable” level that year. (Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments; Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing).

Based on this data, the faculty in the American Studies program are pleased to see that the majority of our graduates are meeting all three learning objectives in a satisfactory manner.

We would like to have more students meeting these learning objectives to an “Exceptional” degree. To this end, we will continue to remind all instructors of these learning objectives at the start of each semester and encourage them to develop and continue to manage their courses in ways that encourage students to accomplish those objectives. We will also continue to encourage AS faculty to use the Writing Fellows program for additional support to help students meet Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing   

Data-based decisions that rely on indirect measures

The responses from the student interviews revealed the following four areas of focus, and we have developed specific plans for response to each area (see charts below).

1. Strengths of program 

- The diversity of options for courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available and opportunities to combine them in unique ways. 

- The focus on developing strong critical thinking skills in a range of contexts and disciplines 

- The flexibility of the program and ability to pursue topics and classes that suit individual interests. 

- Students play a central role in designing their degree program and taking responsibility for their academic choices and focus.  

- The program offers useful areas for students to develop a clear focus for their coursework. 

- The internships are useful for providing hands-on professional experience. 

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to ensure that we offer diverse courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives for students enrolled in the program. 

- Continue to ensure that the program remains flexible and allows students freedom to design their own focus and choose their own courses.

- Continue to ensure that the courses we offer for AS credit provide areas for students to develop a specific emphasis

- Find opportunities for students to share their internship experiences to help promote the program and the career opportunities it offers.

2. Current Courses and Program Requirements

(quality, accessibility, communication) 

- Students are pleased with the diversity of the course offerings. 

- The information sheets listing the AS courses available each semester continue to be very helpful. These lists make it easy for students to find AS courses and design a more consistent and focused academic program. 

- Most students develop a clear focus for their coursework. For 2019-20, these areas of focus included a specific disciplinary focus (Political Science, JCOM). The number of students developing a clear focus for their coursework continues to show steady improvement since the indirect data previously collected. 

- Students mentioned that Susie Parkinson continues to be very helpful in advising students on their coursework and selecting classes. 

-Students also continue to note that ENGL 2630 is an important course for introducing students to the AS program. 

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to encourage students to develop a specific focus for their coursework through faculty advising and working closely with Susie Parkinson. 

- Continue to provide an information sheet listing available AS courses for each semester and find opportunities to distribute this information to students through information sessions, an email list, and/or website. 


3. Challenges within the program and ideas for improvement 

Students identified challenges or gaps in relation to a) community and b) career guidance and c) community. 

CAREER GUIDANCE

- One student noted that s/he would like more advice and guidance on possible career options for people with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies.

COMMUNITY

- Students would like to develop a stronger sense of community among current AS majors/minors. They offered a number of suggestions for building a stronger AS student community, which include the following:       

a) Continue weekly calendar of AS-related events. Students thought this calendar was great and encouraged us to keep it going. 

b) Students said they would like to have another required course added to the AS curriculum so they would have more opportunities to meet other AS students and build community among fellow majors and minors. 

In response to this feedback, we will… 

CAREER GUIDANCE

- We will hold a career workshop in conjunction with our info session each for AS students so that we can introduce ideas for possible career options and paths.

- We will continue to collect data from AS alumni about their current careers after graduation and feature this information on our website and brochures/fliers

- We will continue to work on planning mini-speaker events where we invite alumni to come back to campus and talk about their career plans.

COMMUNITY

    - We will continue to compile and distribute a weekly calendar of events on campus that may be of interest to AS students (speakers, workshops, readings, theater, music, art exhibits, etc.) and send that calendar to students via email 

    - We will plan one major AS-student event each semester (movie night, speaker events, discussion group, internship session, etc.) 

    - We will work on promoting program events on our new AS program website.

4. Career plans and activities for AS majors, post-graduation 

- Plans to pursue career in museum work, beginning with a job at USU’s NEHMA

- Interested in pursuing a career in the US foreign service or working for the Peace Corps

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue gathering information from alumni about current jobs/careers and make this career info available to students through our once-a-semester program info sessions. 

- Draw on this specific job information in brochures, fliers, posters, and website to promote the program and recruit students

 

Assessment for 2018-2019

Data-based decisions correlated to direct measures

In 2018-19, we had a very small number of graduating seniors, which makes it hard to draw definitive conclusions from our assessment data. In sum, this group of four American Studies graduates met the expectations for the learning objectives for the English Dept. None of the students met the “marginal” or “unacceptable” levels, which is very good. There were three instances where a student’s ability to meet a specific learning objective was “exceptional” (Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments; Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing; Learning Objective 3: Communicates ideas effectively in writing), which is also very good.

This data shows improvement from the data in our 2017-18 assessment report, where one student’s ability to meet two specific learning objectives was “marginal” (Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments; Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing).

Based on this data, the faculty in the American Studies program are pleased to see that the majority of our graduates are meeting all three learning objectives in a satisfactory manner.

We would like more students to meet these learning objectives to an “Exceptional” degree. To this end, we will continue to remind all instructors of these learning objectives at the start of each semester and encourage them to develop and continue to manage their courses in ways that encourage students to accomplish those objectives. We will also continue to encourage AS faculty to use the Writing Fellows program for additional support to help students meet Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing   

Data-based decisions that rely on indirect measures

The responses from the student interviews revealed the following four areas of focus, and we have developed specific plans for response to each area (see charts below).

1. Strengths of program

- The diversity of options for courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available and opportunities to combine them in unique ways.

- The focus on developing strong critical thinking and writing skills in a range of contexts and disciplines

- The flexibility of the program, which allows students to play a central role in designing their degree program and pursue topics and classes that suit individual interests.

- Course offerings which provide good opportunities for students to develop a specific focus for their coursework

- An internship requirement, which is useful for providing students with hands-on professional experience.

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to offer courses that allow students to gain experience with critical thinking and writing in a range of disciplines and contexts

- Continue to ensure that the program remains flexible and allows students freedom to design their own focus and choose their own courses.

- Continue to ensure that the courses we offer for AS credit provide areas for students to develop a specific emphasis

- Create opportunities for students to share their internship experiences to promote the program and the career opportunities it offers

 

2. Current Courses and Program Requirements

(quality, accessibility, communication)

- Students are pleased with the diversity of the course offerings.

- The information sheets listing the AS courses available each semester continues to be very helpful, making it easy for students to find AS courses and design a focus for their program.

- Most students develop a clear focus for their coursework. For 2018-19, these areas of focus included Political Science and Journalism & Communication.

- Students mentioned that Susie Parkinson continues to be very helpful in advising students on their coursework and selecting classes.

-Students also continue to note that ENGL 2630 and other AS courses are an important course for introducing students to the AS program.

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to encourage students to develop a specific focus for their coursework through faculty advising and working closely with Susie Parkinson.

- Continue to provide an information sheet listing available AS courses for each semester and find opportunities to distribute this information to students through information sessions, an email list, and the new website.

 

3. Challenges within the program and ideas for improvement

Students identified challenges or gaps in relation to a) courses b) career guidance and c) community

COURSES

-  Our graduating seniors did not identify any significant gaps in our course offerings. They did suggest, however, that it would be helpful to have another required course added to the AS curriculum so they would have more opportunities to meet other AS students and build community among fellow majors and minors.

CAREER GUIDANCE

- Our graduating seniors noted that they would like more advice and guidance on possible career options for people with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies.

COMMUNITY

- Students would like to develop a stronger sense of community among current AS majors/minors. They offered a number of suggestions for building a stronger AS student community, which include the following:

a) Continue weekly calendar of AS-related events.

b) As mentioned above, one student said s/he would like to have another required course added to the AS curriculum so they would have more opportunities to meet other AS students and build community among fellow majors and minors.

In response to this feedback, we will…

COURSES

- We will continue to prepare and distribute a list of courses so that students are aware of what courses are available each semester. We will also feature this list on our new website.

- Regarding the suggestion for adding a new required course, we have added a new required course for AS majors/minors this year, ENGL 2640: Introduction to Ethnic Studies. We will monitor the impact of this new requirement on AS majors in the coming years.  

CAREER GUIDANCE

- We will add information to our webpage that introduces ideas for possible career options and paths.

- We will collect data from AS alumni about their current careers after graduation and feature this information on our website and brochures/fliers

- We will consult the American Studies Association website for guidance on how to promote careers and career opportunities for undergraduates majoring in American Studies

COMMUNITY

- We will continue to compile and distribute a weekly calendar of events on campus that may be of interest to AS students (speakers, workshops, readings, theater, music, art exhibits, etc.) and send that calendar to students via email

- In the fall, we will hold a “Starting a New Year” get-together for AS students and faculty, modeled on the opening social held by Religious Studies. We will structure this as a picnic

 

4. Career plans and activities for AS majors, post-graduation

- Interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, will attend police academy.

- Interested in pursuing a career in law, plans to apply for law school in a year or so

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue gathering information from alumni about current jobs/careers and make this career info available to students through our once-a-semester program info sessions.

- Present information about our graduates’ career paths in brochures, fliers, posters, and website to promote the program and recruit students

 

Assessment for 2017-18

Data-based decisions correlated to direct measures

In 2017-18, we had a very small number of graduating seniors, which makes it hard to draw definitive conclusions from our assessment data. In sum, this group of three American Studies graduates met the expectations for the learning objectives for the English Dept. There were two instances where a student’s ability to meet a specific learning objective was “marginal” (Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments; Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing). We believe that this “marginal” assessment, however, was specific to the individual student who performed poorly in all her courses during her senior year due to extenuating circumstances. We will, however, pay close attention to these two objectives in our assessment for 2018-19 to determine if the program is having problems meeting these objectives when we evaluate the work of a larger group of students.

For 2017-18, the majority of AS students seem to be meeting the learning objectives at the “Acceptable” level. This data showed a decrease in the number of students meeting the learning objectives at the “Exceptional” level (for 2016-17, at least half of our graduating seniors met these objectives at the “Exceptional” level; for 2017-18, none of our graduating seniors met these objectives at the “Exceptional” level).

Based on this data, the faculty in the American Studies program are pleased to see that the majority of graduates from the program are meeting all three learning objectives in a satisfactory manner.

We would like to have more students meeting these learning objectives to an “Exceptional” degree. To this end, we will continue to remind all instructors of these learning objectives at the start of each semester and encourage them to develop and continue to manage their courses in ways that encourage students to accomplish those objectives. We will continue to encourage AS faculty to use the Writing Fellows program for additional support to help students meet Learning Objective 2: Communicates ideas effectively in writing   

 Data-based decisions that rely on indirect measures

The responses from the student interviews revealed the following four areas of focus, and we have developed specific plans for response to each area (see charts below).

1. Strengths of program

- The diversity of options for courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available and ability to combine them in unique ways.

- Engaging with a broad range of different kinds of “texts” and materials—i.e., literature, historical documents, laws, film, media, music, art.

- The focus on developing strong critical thinking skills in a range of contexts and disciplines.

- The flexibility of the program and ability to pursue topics and classes that suit individual interests.

- Students play a central role in designing their degree program and taking responsibility for their academic choices and focus. 

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to ensure that we offer diverse courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives for students enrolled in the program

- Continue to ensure that the courses counted within the AS program provide students with opportunities to engage with a broad range of different kinds of “texts” and materials—i.e., literature, historical documents, laws, film, media, music, art

- Continue to ensure that the program remains flexible and allows students freedom to design their own focus and choose their own courses.

- This year, our graduating students did not mention the program’s emphasis on critical writing, research, and communication skills as one of its strengths, which has often been a point of emphasis in the past. To address this, we will make an effort to emphasize that courses counted within the AS program have a strong writing component and require critical thinking and communication skills.

2. Current Courses and Program Requirements

(quality, accessibility, communication)

- Students are pleased with the diversity of the course offerings.

- The new information sheets listing the AS courses available each semester have been helpful. These lists have made it much easier for students to find AS courses and design a more consistent and focused academic program.

- Most students develop a clear focus for their coursework. For 2016-17, these areas of focus included a specific disciplinary focus (American Literature and Folklore, Environmental Studies), and, in some cases, a specific career focus (Museum Studies). The number of students developing a clear focus for their coursework continues to show steady improvement since the indirect data collected for 2015-16.

- Several students mentioned that Susie Parkinson was very helpful in advising students on their coursework and selecting classes.

-Several students mentioned that faculty were also helpful in offering advice on classes and developing a focus for their program. They specifically mentioned ENGL 2630 as an important course for introducing students to the AS program.

 

In response to this feedback, we will…

 - Continue to encourage students to develop a specific focus for their coursework through faculty advising and working closely with Susie Parkinson.

- Continue to provide an information sheet listing available AS courses for each semester and find opportunities to distribute this information to students through information sessions, an email list, and/or website.


3. Challenges within the program and ideas for improvement

Students identified challenges or gaps in relation to a) courses b) career guidance and c) community

COURSES

-  Our graduating seniors did not identify any significant gaps in our course offerings. One student, however, had a suggestion for improving the capstone course. This student ultimately found the course to be valuable, (particularly its emphasis on thinking about career options and preparing resumes and developing useful professional skills) but wanted its content to be more focused specifically on the field of American Studies. This echoes feedback made by another student who made a similar suggestion last year.

 - One student said s/he would like to have another required course added to the AS curriculum so they would have more opportunities to meet other AS students and build community among fellow majors and minors. These students specifically suggested adding an upper-division requirement to the program but did not specify a subject.

CAREER GUIDANCE

- One student noted that s/he would like more advice and guidance on possible career options for people with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies.

COMMUNITY

- Students would like to develop a stronger sense of community among current AS majors/minors. They offered a number of suggestions for building a stronger AS student community, which include the following:

  1.  Continue weekly calendar of AS-related events. Students thought this calendar was great and encouraged us to keep it going.
     
  2. As mentioned above, one student said s/he would like to have another required course added to the AS curriculum so they would have more opportunities to meet her AS students and build community among fellow majors and minors. These students specifically suggested adding an upper-division requirement to the program but did not specify a subject.
In response to this feedback, we will...


COURSES

- We will continue to prepare and distribute a list of courses so that students are aware of what courses are available each semester

- Regarding the capstone course, we will meet with the Technical Communication faculty teaching the capstone to discuss the coursework and how the  readings/assignments can meet the goals and expectations for American Studies students. We will also work on communicating the goals and focus of the capstone to AS students more clearly. As the AS program continues to go, we may be able to offer a dedicated AS capstone course in the future, although that is not possible at this time given the small size of the program.

- Regarding the suggestion for adding a new required course, we will make this a priority discussion topic for faculty meetings during the Spring 2019 semester. We do not currently have enough AS majors to add a course, so it would need to be a course that could also serve the needs/interests of other students in the English dept. and other affiliated AS-majors. Adding a new course would be a major undertaking, but it will be exciting to talk more about this suggestion.

CAREER GUIDANCE

- We will hold a career workshop in conjunction with our info session each for AS students so that we can introduce ideas for possible career options and paths.

- We will continue to collect data from AS alumni about their current careers after graduation and feature this information on our website and brochures/fliers

- We will continue to work on planning mini-speaker events where we invite alumni to come back to campus and talk about their career plans.

COMMUNITY

 - We will continue to compile and distribute a weekly calendar of events on campus that may be of interest to AS students (speakers, workshops, readings, theater, music, art exhibits, etc.) and send that calendar to students via email
 - We will plan one major AS-student event each semester (movie night, speaker events, discussion group, internship session, etc.)
- We will work on promoting program events on our new AS program website.

4. Career plans and activities for AS majors, post-graduation

- Plans to pursue career in museum work, beginning with a job at USU’s NEHM 

- Interested in pursuing a career in the US foreign service or working for the Peace Corps

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue gathering information from alumni about current jobs/careers     

and make this career info available to students through our once-a-semester program info sessions. 

- Draw on this specific job information in brochures, fliers, posters, and

website to promote the program and recruit students


Assessments for 2016-17


Data-based decisions correlated to direct measures
In sum, this group of five American Studies graduates met or exceeded the expectations for the learning objectives for the English Dept. There was one instance where a student’s ability to meet a specific learning objective was “marginal” (Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments). This “marginal” assessment only occurred once, however, and did not seem to be a repeated or consistent cause for concern.

Across the board, the majority of AS students seem to be meeting the learning objectives at the “Acceptable” and “Exceptional” levels. The number of students reaching “Acceptable” and “Exceptional” was fairly evenly matched for Learning Objectives 1 (Acceptable = 6, Exceptional = 4) and Learning Objective 2 (Acceptable = 5, Exceptional = 6). There was a more significant difference between these number of students reaching “Acceptable” (8) and “Exceptional” (3) for Learning Objective 3.  

Based on this data, the faculty in the American Studies program are pleased to see that graduates from the program are meeting all three learning objectives in a satisfactory manner. This assessment data did not reveal any problems or areas of concern.

We would like to have more students meeting these learning objectives to an “Exceptional” degree. To this end, we will continue to remind all instructors of these learning objectives at the start of each semester and encourage them to develop and continue to manage their courses in ways that encourage students to accomplish those objectives. Since there was a more significant difference for students meeting Learning Objective 3 at the “Acceptable” and “Exceptional” level, we will place a particular emphasis on developing strong writing skills in all AS courses. We will also encourage AS faculty to make use of the Writing Fellows program for additional support to help students meet this objective.  

 

Data-based decisions that rely on indirect measures

The responses from the student interviews revealed the following four areas of focus, and we have developed specific plans for response to each area (see charts below).

1. Strengths of program

- The diversity of options for courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available and ability to combine them in unique ways. 

- Engaging with a broad range of different kinds of “texts” and materials—i.e., literature, historical documents, laws, film, media, music, art. 

- The strong focus on writing skills, particularly the way students gain experience with different forms of writing (journalism, scholarly analysis, research papers, persuasive writing, creative writing).

- The focus on developing strong critical thinking skills in a range of contexts and disciplines. 

- The flexibility of the program and ability to pursue topics and classes that suit individual interests. 

- Students play a central role in designing their degree program and taking responsibility for their academic choices and focus. 

- The program is particularly attractive for nontraditional students who have additional interests and perspectives through their previous work and life experiences.

- Meeting AS students with similar and different interests. Several students noted that they developed close bonds and friendships with other AS students that were enhanced by their varied interests and the importance of designing their own programs.

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to ensure that we offer diverse courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives for students enrolled in the program

- Continue to ensure that the courses counted within the AS program provide students with opportunities to engage with a broad range of different kinds of “texts” and materials—i.e., literature, historical documents, laws, film, media, music, art

- Continue to ensure that courses counted within the AS program have a strong writing component and require critical thinking skills

- Continue to ensure that the program remains flexible and allows students freedom to design their own focus and choose their own courses.

- Place a new emphasis on addressing nontraditional students in our recruitment materials and planning.

- Offer more opportunities for AS students to meet and interact with one another, both within and outside of their coursework. 



2. Current Courses and Program Requirements
(quality, accessibility, communication) 

- Students are pleased with the diversity of the course offerings. 

- The new information sheets listing the AS courses available each semester have been helpful. These lists have made it much easier for students to find AS courses and design a more consistent and focused academic program. 

- Most students develop a clear focus for their coursework. For 2016-17, these areas of focus included a specific disciplinary focus (American Literature, Political Science, US History) and, in some cases, a specific career focus (Museum Studies), and a thematic focus (childhood and the military). The number of students developing a clear focus for their coursework shows considerable improvement from the indirect data gathered on this topic for 2015-16. 

- Students choose their courses based on the factors such as the subject, the teacher, and the time schedule. 

- Students did not have problems enrolling in AS courses. Students reported that there was plenty of room to enroll in AS courses. None of these students were wait-listed or unable to enroll in a course they wanted to take. 

- Students did complain about some courses not being offered very often, which made it difficult to enroll in classes they wanted to take, particularly in the Political Science and English depts. 

- Several students mentioned that Susie Parkinson was very helpful in advising students on their coursework and selecting classes. 

-Several students mentioned that faculty were also helpful in offering advice on classes and developing a focus for their program.  

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to encourage students to develop a specific focus for their coursework through faculty advising and working closely with Susie Parkinson.

- Continue to provide an information sheet listing available AS courses for each semester and find opportunities to distribute this information to students through information sessions, an email list, and/or website.

- Talk to faculty to get current information about how often courses are offered and let depts. know about student demand for courses they are interested in enrolling in more often, particularly regarding US film, Native American Literature, History, and Culture, and History courses on Vietnam, military history, and civil rights issues.   


3. Challenges within the program and ideas for improvement 

Students identified challenges or gaps in relation to a) courses b) career guidance and c) community

COURSES

-  Students would like more courses in the following areas:

             US Film Studies
             Native American Literature, History, and Culture
             20th Century History topics (Civil Rights, Vietnam era, Military history)

- One student had specific complaints about the capstone course. This student felt that the course was too focused on the field of technical communication and that it did not provide students with useful opportunities to pursue their own interdisciplinary interests. This student wanted the capstone course to be more focused specifically on the field of American Studies. Other students, however, felt favorably about the capstone course, particularly its emphasis on thinking about career options and preparing resumes, portfolios, and developing useful technological skills.  

 - Several students said they would like to have another required course added to the AS curriculum so they would have more opportunities to meet other AS students and build community among fellow majors and minors. These students specifically suggested adding an upper-division “Theories and Methods” class to the AS curriculum that all AS students would be required to take.

CAREER GUIDANCE

- Several students noted that they would like more advice and guidance on possible career options for people with a bachelor’s degree in American Studies.

COMMUNITY

- Students would like to develop a stronger sense of community among current AS majors/minors. They offered a number of suggestions for building a stronger AS student community, which include the following:  

             a) Continuing to build the new AS student club            

             b) Sponsor at least one major AS event each semester, which could be a speaker event, a service project, a poetry/literature  

             reading, a movie night, or attending a theater event, an art exhibit, a musical concert, etc. 

             c) Continue weekly calendar of AS-related events. Students thought this calendar was great and encouraged us to keep it going. 

             d) Develop a website for the AS program that students can check for information about the program, events. 

In response to this feedback, we will… 

COURSES

- We will continue to prepare and distribute a list of courses so that students are aware of what courses are available each semester

- We are already aware of new courses being offered in areas that  students requested, and we will make an effort to publicize them. Prof. David Wall in the Art History program will be offering new courses in US film. He is also the adviser for the USU student Film Society, and we will promote those events to AS students. 

- Two newly-hired faculty members, Prof. John Gamber (English) and Seth Archer (History) will be offering courses in Native American Literature, History, and Culture, and we will promote those courses to AS students, as well as encouraging them to pursue the new Native American Studies minor.   

- Another newly-hired faculty member, Chris Gonzalez (English), will be offering courses in Latina/o literature and graphic novels, which is another area where students have requested courses in the past. We will make an effort to publicize these new courses as well.

- We will contact faculty in the History dept. to let them know about student interests in the history of Civil Rights, Vietnam, and the US military and find out about their current and future course offerings in these areas.

- Regarding the capstone course, although one student was very critical of this course, since only this one student had complaints about the capstone course and the other students seemed pleased with it, we don’t feel that any major changes need to be made. Nevertheless, we will meet with the Technical Communication faculty teaching the capstone to discuss the coursework and how the readings/assignments can meet the goals and expectations for American Studies students. We will also work on communicating the goals and focus of the capstone to AS students more clearly.

- Regarding the suggestion for adding a new required course, we will make this a priority discussion topic for faculty meetings during the Spring 2018 semester. We do not currently have enough AS majors to add a course, so it would need to be a course that could also serve the needs/interests of other students in the English dept. and other affiliated AS-majors. Adding a new course would be a major undertaking, but we are excited about this suggestion and anxious to start working on it.

CAREER GUIDANCE

- We will hold a career workshop each semester or once per year (schedule permitting) for AS students to introduce ideas for possible career options and paths, perhaps combining this with the info sessions where we distribute the upcoming AS courses

- We will continue to collect data from AS alumni about their current careers after graduation and feature this information on our website and brochures/fliers

- We will work on planning mini-speaker events where we invite alumni to come back to campus and talk about their career plans.

COMMUNITY

    - We will follow up on students’ suggestions for developing a stronger AS student community by supporting the current AS student club. We will invite the club to take the lead on planning extracurricular events and/or service projects. 

    - We will continue to compile and distribute a weekly calendar of events on campus that may be of interest to AS students (speakers, workshops, readings, theater, music, art exhibits, etc.) and send that calendar to students via email. 

    - We will plan one major AS-student event each semester (movie night, speaker events, discussion group, internship session, etc.) 

    - We will work on developing an AS program website, asking the Technical Communication faculty for guidance as they recently designed their own website.


4. Career plans and activities for AS majors, post-graduation 

- Take a year off of school to travel and work part-time, with the plan to apply for graduate school in American literature

- Museum work

- Job at the LDS family history library, with the goal of pursuing an MLS in a few years

- Enrolled in AS master’s program at USU (Folklore emphasis)

- Interested in master’s program in Technical Writing, will teach in the Agricultural Systems Technology and Education program. 

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue gathering information from alumni about current jobs/careers and make this career info available to students through our once-a-semester program info sessions.

- Draw on this specific job information in brochures, fliers, posters, and website to promote the program and recruit students. 

Assessments for 2015-16


Data-based decisions correlated to direct measures

In sum, this group of three American Studies graduates met or exceeded the expectations for the learning objectives for the English Dept.
More specifically, the work of two students was deemed “Acceptable” for all three objectives and the work of one student was deemed “Exceptional.”
Based on this data, the faculty in the American Studies program are pleased to see that graduates from the program are meeting all three learning objectives in a satisfactory manner. This assessment data did not reveal any problems or areas of concern.

We would like to have more students meeting these learning objectives to an “Exceptional” degree. To this end, we will continue to remind all instructors of these learning objectives at the start of each semester and encourage them to develop and/or continue to manage their courses in ways that encourage students to accomplish those objectives.


Data-based decisions that rely on indirect measures

The responses from the student interviews revealed the following four areas of focus, and we have developed specific plans for response to each area (see below).


1. Reasons for joining the program and benefits/value of program


- The variety of options for courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available

- Engaging with a broad range of different kinds of “texts” and materials—i.e., literature, historical documents, laws, film, media, music, art

- The strong focus on writing skills, particularly the way students gain experience with different forms of writing (journalism, scholarly analysis, research papers, persuasive writing, creative writing)

- The focus on developing strong critical thinking skills in a range of contexts and disciplines

- Learning about different perspectives and experiences in the US

- Gaining a greater knowledge of US history and culture

In response to this feedback, we will…

- Continue to ensure that we have a variety of courses, topics, methods, disciplines, and perspectives available to students enrolled in the program

- Continue to ensure that the courses counted within the AS program provide students with opportunities to engage with a broad range of different kinds of “texts” and materials—i.e., literature, historical documents, laws, film, media, music, art

- Continue to ensure that courses counted within the AS program have a strong writing component and require critical thinking skills

- Continue to ensure that courses counted within the AS program introduce students to a wide range of perspectives and experiences

* To accomplish these goals, we will continue with our annual process of reviewing syllabi from the AS courses taken by graduating seniors to see if they meet these expectations.


2. Difficulties, challenges, and gaps within the program

COURSES

-  It is difficult to get specific information about courses each semester

 - It is difficult to choose courses that focus on a specific theme

-  It would be helpful to have more online courses for AS credit

-  Students would like more courses in the following areas:

             Native American Literature, History, and Culture

             American Film Studies

             American Art

             Environmental Studies

             Psychology

             20th Century History topics (Civil Rights, Vietnam era, 1920s)

COMMUNITY

- Students would like to develop a stronger sense of community among current AS majors/minors, perhaps through establishing a student club and promoting extracurricular activities or service projects

In response to this feedback, we will…

  • Regarding the challenges posed about distributing course information:

     Each semester, we will produce a list of all the AS courses available for credit and create a handout with this information.

     We will compile this list and handout so that it is available to students the week before registration begins.

     We will hold an information session to provide this information to students during the week registration begins, and we will distribute this list to all AS majors/minors via email. 

 

  • Regarding gaps in the curriculum and student interests in courses:

    We will do more work to promote existing courses in American Art ,Film, and Environmental Studies

    We will contact faculty in the Art, Psychology, and Environmental Studies depts./programs to find out what additional and/or new classes are being offered that can meet student interests and also fit the AS program requirements

    We will soon be hiring a faculty member with expertise in American  Ethnic Literature and Culture, with a preferred emphasis in Native  American Studies, which should help address the interest in these classes.

    USU is also starting an American Studies minor, which should open up more classes in Native American Studies for students. We will work on getting those courses listed as part of the AS curriculum.

 

  • Regarding AS student community:

    We will follow up on the students’ suggestions for developing a stronger AS student community by fostering the development of an AS student club. We will invite the club to take the lead on planning extracurricular events and/or service projects.

    We will compile a weekly calendar of events on campus that may be of interest to AS students (speakers, workshops, readings, theater, music, art exhibits, etc.) and send that calendar to students via email

    We will plan one major AS-student event each semester (movie night, speaker events, discussion group, internship session, etc.)


3. Careers students seek and/or are interested in after graduation

- Journalism
- Museum work
- Grant writing
- Law school

In response to this feedback, we will…

Continue gathering information from alumni about current jobs/careers and make this information available to students.

Draw on this specific job information in brochures, fliers, posters, and website to promote the program and recruit students 


4. Ideas for promoting the program and recruiting new majors/minors

Students suggested the following ideas/actions for promotion and recruitment:

      - Visit high schools

      - Develop a better website

      - Using social media (AS Facebook page, using Twitter to promote

        events)

      - Talking more about jobs and internships

      - Visit classes that count for AS credit to tell students about the   

         program

      - Get current AS students involved in recruiting

In response to this feedback, we will…

We thought all of these were good suggestions. In the immediate future, we plan to work with students (hopefully, the AS student club) to set up a Facebook page that promotes the program and AS events.

We also plan to develop a more comprehensive list of alumni, their contact information, and their current jobs, which we can use to help promote the program and recruit students.

We plan to have an information session each semester that gives students information about AS-related jobs and internships.

We plan to visit at least five classes each semester to promote the program. We will always visit all sections of ENGL 2360 (the foundation course for the major) and we will select four other courses to visit based on availability of courses/faculty each semester.

We will start work on developing material for a new website.

We will compile a list of AS faculty and short bios of each.

 

Assessments for 2010-15

From 2010-15, the American Studies program underwent a period of significant change as we redefined the goals of the program and re-asserted its status and focus as an interdisciplinary program within the college and university. The program suffered due to budget cuts that took place in 2008-10, which caused the attention and focus of existing American Studies faculty to be diverted to their home departments. Beginning in 2016, the faculty made changes to the curriculum and program requirements, which clarify the existing coursework and intended outcomes of the program. Beginning in 2016, the faculty conducted a more effective and specific assessment of the program based on our revised assessment criteria. We regret that we are unable to provide assessment data for 2010-15, but we hope the information here provides an effective understanding of the current status of the program and our specific goals for improving and assessing the program in 2016.