Outcomes Data: American Studies

2020-21   2019-20   2018-19   2017-18   2016-17   2015-16   2014-15   2013-14  2012-13   2011-12   2010-11

2020-21 Outcomes Data

Direct Measures: 

Common Learning Objectives in American Studies

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments

2

8

11

 

Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications

 

3

 

3

 

9

 

2

Learning Objective 3: Communicates ideas effectively in writing

 

 

 

2

 

13

 

6

 

* Four papers were found to be “non applicable” for Learning Objective #2

Indirect Measures

The director of American Studies did not conduct any exit interviews with the seven graduating seniors, so there are no indirect measures to report on or respond to for the 2020-21 academic year. Exit interviews will be conducted for the 2021-22 academic year, and the assessment report for next year will contain this information.

2019-20 Outcomes Data

Common Learning Objectives in American Studies

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments, professional documents, or creative texts 6 4 15 2
Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications 3 8 12 2
Learning Objective 3: Communicate ideas effectively through writing 0 1 21 5

PART 2 of 2: INDIRECT MEASURES (Student Interviews) 

During the weeks of April 22-Apr 30, 2020, Keri Holt conducted exit interviews with three graduating American Studies students (the other graduating senior did not respond to requests for an exit interview). Data from the exit interviews are recorded below.

Responses to exit interviews:

  1. How did you find out about the American Studies degree?

    I came back to school after taking time off, and I just went through a list of majors that someone gave me when I went back to school. I didn’t know much about American Studies, but I was interested in the stuff I read about it in the catalog and website.

    I got into AS because of Dustin Crawford. I first took his 2010 class, and I loved his teaching style, and he first mentioned AS there, and then I took his culture class (2630), and I loved that one even more, about the Vietnam War. I was originally an accounting major, but I didn’t really enjoy those courses. Dustin showed me that I could take classes where I was really interested in the material and where I could really enjoy what I was learning, and I really loved the idea of studying American culture. It felt like it could open a lot of doors.

    I learned about As through Susan Andersen. I took her class (2630), and she talked about the AS program a lot. I loved the class, how it combined studies of culture with so many different materials and fields, and that got me interested in the AS program.

  2. Why did you choose to become an American Studies major? What were your goals for pursuing this degree? What sorts of knowledge and skills did you hope to achieve?

    Initially a history major, but wanted to do more, liked English, Poli Sci, Sociology…all the fields AS covers. Also saw that “Librarian” was listed on DegreeWorks as a possible career option for AS, and I was interested in a library career.

    I became an AS major because I was excited by the first classes I took, and I thought it could be good prep for a lot of different careers, like careers in law or politics. I really liked that I could combine different fields like history, English, PoliSci. The broad knowledge base you get in AS really appealed to me. Its multifaceted dimensions prepares you for careers in a lot of areas.

    I wanted to study combinations of lots of things—history, culture, art, movies, architecture. There are so many different ways to encounter and experience culture, and AS gave me a way to study that. 

  3. As you graduate, what specific skills and knowledge do you think you have gained from completing the AS program? What do you feel are the benefits of this program?

    The ability to understand topics from many different perspectives and the ability to empathize with lots of different perspectives. My writing also got a lot stronger. Those are the two main skills I gained.

    Analytical skills. I learned to do research to find out more about topics and also how to carefully analyze articles and data involving a lot of different fields and topics. Another great skill is the ability to switch gears. AS forces you to shift your focus and your skills to adapt to different areas, depending on the discipline you’re working in, and that ability to shift gears and handle different perspectives and approaches is a great skill. I also learned to write in lots of different ways, different formats for different audiences, and that’s another important skill from this degree.

    AS teaches you how to look at the world in terms of big pictures, so you can see things on a larger scale and, most importantly, see how things intersect. Intersectionality! That’s the key thing that AS taught me. It exposed me to so many different things. Diversity and awareness of diversity is another key skill you get in AS, but more than that, it’s the way you can see how so many different topics and perspectives and methods can intersect. Making those connections and seeing those intersections is the most important thing I’m taking away.

  4. How did you choose your courses for the American Studies program?

    I started with the list of all the possible courses that I got from the adviser (Green Sheet/Catalog info) to figure out what I was interested in, and then I used the lists of courses that came out each semester to make my selections. A lot of the courses that I wanted to take from the list of possible courses weren’t offered, though.

    I usually went to Dustin first. I’d ask him what he knew and what he’d recommend. The lists that you gave out each semester were also really helpful.

    It was really easy. I just used those lists that were posted or emailed out. I really loved that I could start with that list and choose the courses I was interested in. The flexibility of the program with regard to courses was really great, especially with how it allowed me to choose the courses I felt were important for me to take.

  5. What was your area of focus? How did you choose this focus? Were you happy with the course offerings?

    History: That was originally my major and I kept it as my focus.

    Political Science: I really loved these classes. They were interesting and helped me think about real issues, and I also want to go into law so that was a good foundation for me.

  6. Where did you do your internship? What was your experience like?

    Special Collections, Merrill-Cazier library: I worked cataloging items in Special Collections, and I liked being able to work with two different areas of the library, cataloging and Special collections. It was fun to learn about the diff. depts in the library and how they work together, as well as the different issues and topics

    Special Collections needs to deal with regarding preservation and public use.

    Malouf: This is a bedding company (design and manufacture) whose HQ is in Logan. I was working in the warehouse, just stocking and general labor. I didn’t know how to find a good internship. I wanted to do a law internship, and I talked to the guy in PoliSci who helps with finding those kind of internships, but he didn’t help me very much. I was getting really worried about finding one, but I happened to mention what I was interested in someone who worked at Malouf who was helping us in the warehouse with managing some safety compliance issues. Turns out, he was a member of Malouf’s legal team, and he suggested I do an internship with them. I did, and it was great. Malouf didn’t have a formal internship program at the time (they are working on creating one now), but they introduced me to a lot of the legal work that Malouf does, especially with copyright and intellectual property. I got a lot of mentorship from a Uof U law professor on their legal team, and I’m still working with them. It will likely lead to a long term job for me, and may also include support when I go to law school.

  7. Did you have a minor? If so, what was it? 
    Yes, Family and Human Development.
  8. What gaps emerged as you completed your American Studies degree? Are there particular topics, areas, issues, disciplines that you wish you could have studied?

    I wish I could have taken more courses in contemporary US history, post 1970. The History dept. has these courses, but they weren’t offered when I was taking classes or they were offered at times I couldn’t take them. A lot of times, I couldn’t take courses I wanted to take because of my schedule.

    I wish I could have taken more courses in Tech Comm, focusing on more specialized forms of professional writing, like legal writing. I would also have liked more specialized law courses—most were pretty general (like Constitutional law), which was good, but it would be fun to take a more specialized law course like property law or copyright law. Also, it would be nice to have a more formal internship class that talks about things like networking or how do find and work with mentors.

  9. What were the biggest challenges of being an American Studies major and what suggestions do you have to mitigate those challenges?

    The biggest challenge was feeling like AS was kind of a “lesser” degree compared to other majors, mainly because there aren’t very many students who do this major and because we just do a little bit in lots of areas, rather than focusing in just one area. I know it’s not a “lesser” degree, and this is just my personal insecurities, but I guess I’m saying it was hard to be in such a small major where you didn’t know who other AS majors were or you didn’t always feel like you were a strong part of something, that other people could see. I had one good friend who was also an AS major, which helped, but I would have liked to know more students. Having more community for AS majors would be helpful.

    It was hard to get to know other AS majors. We didn’t see each other that often or know who they were, and once you did get to know someone, it was great. More community.

    SUGGESTIONS:

    Maybe AS faculty can ask students to say their majors at the start of class, so that people in the AS major can identify each other.

    AS faculty could use the calendar list and find 1-2 events and send out an email inviting all AS majors to go together. I’d be more likely to go to an event if I knew other AS majors and teachers would be going too. I don’t go to a lot of events, but I’d probably go to something like that once or twice a semester.

    Develop some sort of online group where AS majors can meet and talk to each other.

    It would be great to have a few more shared courses that all AS students have to take, so we can get to know each other better. Maybe more shared courses on American cultural studies, like a more advanced version of 2630—the intro to American culture class. And I’d love it if Dustin taught more courses, in general. He’s great!

  10. What are your professional plans after graduation? Do you feel American Studies prepared you for that path? If so, how? If not, what would have helped to better prepare you for the job market or graduate school?

    Short term:
    I’m not sure. I am going to apply for jobs in libraries, entry-level.

    I am going to work full time for Malouf as part of their legal team, growing out of my internship. I am learning a lot, and am getting guidance on a long-term career as  lawyer working in intellectual property and copyright, and I’ll keep working with that team until I go to law school in a few years. There are lots of job opportunities for me right now at Malouf, which is great, especially since I can keep learning and prep for law school.

    Long-term career goals:

    I want to go to library school and become a librarian. Not an archivist, but working in cataloging or public libraries or school libraries.
    Lawyer

    AS background and careers:

    Yes, the ability to understand things from different perspectives and having good writing/communication skills will help me as a librarian.

  11. What suggestions do you have for improving the program and/or building a stronger “American Studies” community among our current majors and minors? Any suggestions for promoting the program or recruiting students?

    It would be nice to have T-shirts so we can feel we’re a part of something and promote the program.

    Having some sort of info-graphic or poster or fliers to put up on campus would be useful, and also to send out over social media.

    It would be helpful to have some way to answer the question “What is American Studies” quickly. I get asked this all the time, and it’s hard for me to answer. If you can give us a poster or a flier or something that helps us answer that question, that would be good.

    It would also be helpful to have more formal guidance for finding an internship. I didn’t know about the website, and some sort of flier or something with resources would be good. Maybe something the adviser can give us? Or a more formal class about internships and finding them? Mine really just happened by chance, but it was good.

    It would be good to tell students more about specific jobs and careers they can get with an AS degree. Maybe you can highlight specific jobs that recent AS grads are doing. I’d be happy to help with this. I also just want to say that the AS degree has made a big different in my life. It’s had a huge impact, giving me an outlook that I can have a career that I’m really excited about and that I can be really excited about learning new things and combining different perspectives and approaches. Accounting didn’t offer that. I fell asleep in those classes. This was such an exciting major for me, and I’d love to help you find ways to promote it. And I’ll work on helping Malouf develop a more formal internship program, so you can send AS students there. Happy to help with this or any way I can!

2018-19 Outcomes Data

On October 24, 2019, Keri Holt, John Gamber, and Lawrence Culver of the American Studies Assessment committee met to evaluate the work of four graduating American Studies students. For assessment, we gathered the final papers/projects that these students completed in the American Studies courses they took during their senior year (Fall 2017 and Spring 2018). The committee evaluated a total of six essays/projects (two of our graduating seniors took two American Studies courses in their senior year; one of our graduating seniors took one American Studies course). The committee members evaluated each essay regarding three learning objectives. Data is recorded in the chart below.


2018-19: DIRECT MEASURES

Common Learning Objectives

 

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments

0

0

5

1

Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications

0

0

5

1

Learning Objective 3: Communicates ideas effectively in writing

0

 

5

1

 

2018-19: INDIRECT MEASURES

During the week of April 22-Apr 30, 2019, Keri Holt conducted exit interviews with two graduating American Studies students (the other graduating senior did not respond to requests for an exit interview). Data from the exit interviews are recorded below.

Responses to exit interviews

  1. Why did you choose to become an American Studies major? What were your goals for pursuing this degree? What sorts of knowledge and skills did you hope to achieve?

- I had to declare a major, and I found it through the catalog. Wanted to do law enforcement but wanted to have a broader background in American history/culture. I liked the flexibility of the program, it gave me a lot of freedom to choose courses interesting to me

- I had a ton of different interests, and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. The AS program was promoted in a history class I took. I’d never heard of it before, but I liked how it allowed you to combine different fields. I was interested in history, journalism, and political science, and this seemed like a good way to work in all of these areas. I then met with the adviser who explained the program to me, and it sounded like a good fit.

- AS offered a better fit for me than the interdisciplinary studies degree because it allowed me to take a lot of different courses while still have a specific focus which, for me, became journalism and political science.

  1. As you graduate, what specific skills and knowledge do you think you have gained from completing the AS program? What do you feel are the benefits of this program?

- Focused on PoliSci, and developed strong focus in history, politics, research and writing. Writing is probably the best skill I’m taking away from AS, ability to do critical analysis, research, and express ideas and arguments in clear writing. 

-Writing for sure. I did lots of writing—and critical analysis and research—in nearly all my AS classes. I took a lot of English and Journalism classes, and I really liked the different kinds of writing I got to do (research papers, news articles, press releases, reviews). This focus on writing really helped me learned how to communicate clearly and consider different audiences for my work. 

- I also feel like I learned how to take initiative and be an independent thinker, since I had to work hard to choose my own courses and develop my own focus for the program.

- I gained experience working on extended projects where it was important to know how to work with groups of people and know a lot of the background context and conditions to develop a successful project. 

  1. How did you choose the courses for the American Studies program?

- I loved the course lists each semester. Those are really, really helpful. Those lists also helped me find out about courses that were interesting and related to my PoliSci focus, but that I wouldn’t have known about. 

- I was split with a focus on Journalism and Poli-Sci, so that helped me choose classes. I met regularly with the adviser who helped me find and choose classes also. I did a lot of planning and thinking ahead to plan my courses far in advance, and I always had the info I needed about the courses being offered.

  1. What was your area of focus? How did you choose this focus? Were you happy with the course offerings?

- PoliSci. Happy with course offerings and courses taken. Did want to take a “Counter-Terrorism” class that wasn’t on the AS list, but I asked and it was allowed. I love the flexibility of this program, which allows you to make a case for taking courses that will fit my interests.

- Poli-Sci and JCOM. I started the program with that focus, and I kept it throughout. I was happy with this decision, and I think it set me up well for a career in journalism.  

  1. Where did you do your internship? What was your experience like?

- Logan City police. It was a good experience. I had already worked there, so I was familiar with the environment. The internship gave me a good sense of the politics of the dept. and I saw how people navigated them. The focus of my internship was to help with their program assessment processes, so it was a lot of paperwork. It was really cool to see how city and state legislation and polcies are enacted through the police dept. 

- Jefferson county 1st district court (Colorado). I worked in the clerk’s office, doing research for small projects, managing files and records, going to court to organize dockets. I am interested in the law, and I may go to law school in a few years, but not right after I graduate. My dad helped me get the position. 

  1. Did you have a minor? What was it?

- Criminal justice.

- History, it was easy to do and fit well with my focus on journalism and poli-sci

  1. What gaps emerged as you completed your AS degree? Are there particular topics, areas, issues, disciplines that you wish you could have studied?

- No major gaps. I was very happy with the program and course offerings.

- I would have liked to take more courses in art or music at the intro level, but it didn’t fit my schedule. I was also interested in sociology courses, but most of them were online and I prefer to take f2f courses.

  1. What were the biggest challenges of being an American Studies major and what suggestions do you have to mitigate those challenges?

- Hard to figure out what kinds of jobs I could do. It would be helpful to have more discussions or training about careers for AS majors.

- Explaining the major to others. It was hard to tell people what I was studying and what I could do with the degree in a short and specific way.

- The capstone was good, but it would be helpful to take it earlier than the last semester. I really liked how the class helped us think about the key themes and skills we learned in the major, and it would have been good to think about that before our last semester, which is when I was thinking about applying for jobs.

- It would be good to have more classes that AS majors take in common, maybe even just a one credit course that helps us think about developing a focus or something.

  1. What are your professional plans after graduation? Do you feel AS prepared you for that path? If so, how? If not, what would have helped to better prepare you for the job market or grad school?

- Finish the police academy. I want to work for FBI, CIA, DEA down the line, definitely working in the federal gov’t. PoliSci focus was great for preparing me for this career, gave me a good grounding in how the gov’t works. The internship was also really helpful for getting to know people who worked in the fields I am interested in, as well as finding out about professional opportunities for someone just starting out.

- I plan to go to law school after taking 1-2 years off after I graduate. I plan to do a lot of volunteering after I graduate, ideally in a place where I can do a lot of writing and draw on my communication and research skills. Maybe with grant writing.  

  1. What suggestions do you have for building a stronger “American Studies” community among our current majors and minors? Any suggestions for promoting the American Studies program and recruiting students to the program?

- Keep doing the lists of courses—those were so helpful!

- I’d really like to find ways to build more community with AS majors. It would be neat to have a way to meet other AS majors and share experiences. Having another core class that we all take in common would be great for this.

- For recruiting, posting signs on campus about the program is a good idea.

- The teachers in the program are really awesome. And Susie is a great adviser—she really helped me navigate through the program and was supportive and encouraging. Advisers like Susie can do a great job promoting the program as well—she got me interested!

- Use other classes to promote AS. I first heard of AS in a history class. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known about it.

2017-18 Outcomes Data

On October 31, 2018, Keri Holt and Candi Carter Olson of the American Studies Assessment committee met to evaluate the work of three graduating American Studies students. For assessment, we gathered the final papers/projects that these students completed in the American Studies courses they took during their senior year (Fall 2017 and Spring 2018). The committee evaluated a total of five essays/projects (two of our graduating seniors took two American Studies courses in their senior year; one of our graduating seniors took one American Studies course). The committee members evaluated each essay regarding three learning objectives. Data is recorded in the chart below.

PART 1 of 2: DIRECT MEASURES (Rubric of Student Work)

Common Learning Objectives in American Studies

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments, professional documents, or creative texts 0 1 2 0
Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications 0 0 3 0
Learning Objective 3: Communicate ideas effectively through writing 0 1 2 0

PART 2 of 2: INDIRECT MEASURES (Student Interviews) 

During the weeks of April 23-May 4, 2018, Keri Holt conducted exit interviews with two graduating American Studies students (the other graduating senior did not respond to requests for an exit interview). Data from the exit interviews are recorded below.

Responses to exit interviews:

  1. Why did you choose to become an American Studies major? What were your goals for pursuing this degree? What sorts of knowledge and skills did you hope to achieve?

    - I wanted to major in the humanities, but I was unsure where to focus. I met with Susie to talk about my varied interests, and she suggested that AS might be a good fit for me. I really liked how I could take classes in a lot of different depts.

    - I liked the AS program because it allowed me to combine my interests in history, literature, and environmental studies. I first found out about the program through 2630 (Survey of American Culture), which was taught by Susan Andersen. She focused the class on architecture, and I really liked the approach in this class, which allowed us to explore a lot of different avenues and approaches. That class is what first introduced me to the program and got me excited about it.

  2. As you graduate, what specific skills and knowledge do you think you have gained from completing the AS program?

    - I have learned about a lot of different disciplines and topics, which makes me a well-rounded thinker. I also did the museum certificate as an AS major, and this was great because it helped me see how I could apply my interdisciplinary perspectives in a specific career context. This certificate really helped prepare me to apply this degree for a career. I really liked working with Molly Cannon as I completed the museum certificate—she also helped me find ways to direct my interdisciplinary interests in the contexts of museums.

    -You get to wear a lot of different hats in the AS program, and taking so many classes in lots of different fields is definitely good for critical thinking—you encounter lots of different ideas and approaches, and then you have to work hard to find connections and applications, which is a really useful skill. You have to be a creative and problem-solving thinker—I really learned that.  I think it was good that I got a broad perspective on lots of fields for my undergrad education, instead of just focusing narrowly on one area—that broad knowledge will be useful when I apply for jobs. I also like that I did have some areas of specific focus, though. I took a lot of environmental science classes, and, through AS, I got to think about how the ideas in this field can be applied in different contexts.

  3. How did you choose your courses for the American Studies program?

    - Picking a specific emphasis—mine was American Literature and Folklore—helped me choose my classes once I got past the basic requirements. I also found ways to mix this interest with courses in Arts and Media Studies—all my courses worked together really well. The museum certificate also helped me choose classes that would meet those requirements.

    - Susie Parkinson was really helpful, and she gave good advice for picking classes that were related to my interests and that would also keep me on track to finish the program. The info sessions and the lists of classes that you provided each semester were also really helpful—that’s a really useful improvement to the program because I remember when you didn’t have those, and it was often hard to know what AS classes were being offered each semester.

  4. In choosing your courses, did you end up developing a particular focus or area of emphasis? If so, what was it and how did you choose your courses to create this focus? If not, why didn’t you establish an area of focus?

    - Yes, I focused most of my courses on Literature and Folklore. I always did well in my English classes, and I liked the course offerings in this area, although it was also nice to be able to find courses that were related to similar topics in other depts., which is why I took some courses addressing women’s issues and representation in some Art and JCOM classes. I really liked that flexibility to explore similar issues in different depts.

    - My main focus was environmental studies, which is something I knew I wanted to explore when I started college. The AS program allowed me to develop a strong focus on this work and, at the same time, get useful background in other related areas like history and political science.  

  5. What gaps emerged as you completed your American Studies degree? Are there particular topics, areas, issues, disciplines that you wish you could have studied?

    - I don’t feel like there were any major gaps in the program. I would maybe like there to be more courses related to diversity, such as a class on African American literature or folklore or immigrant experiences.

    - I would have liked to take some classes in creative writing. I think you offer them—I just didn’t take them. I wish I had. I think those would have been fun. I would also have liked to take some medieval literature classes….although I guess those wouldn’t really be in AS. I really liked all the courses I took, though, and didn’t see any major gaps in the program, just in my own personal choices.

  6. What were the biggest challenges of being an American Studies major and what suggestions do you have to mitigate those challenges?

    - I would like more info and guidance about what kinds of jobs you can do with AS. My minor in music and the museum certificate program really helped me figure out what kinds of jobs I can do, but other students might need more help with this.  It would be a good thing to emphasize.

    - The small size of the program was sometimes a challenge because you didn’t always know other students in the program to hang out with or compare notes. I also thought the capstone class wasn’t that great. I learned a lot of useful stuff in there, and it was definitely useful to help me prepare to apply for jobs. I liked learning how to write a good resume and how to develop good professional skills. The class, though, wasn’t specifically directed to AS students, and I missed that focus. It would be good if the capstone could be specifically directed to AS students, instead of its broad focus for all students in the English dept.

  7. What was the biggest reward or benefit of being involved with the American Studies program?

    - I loved the interdisciplinarity, and I also really liked that there was an AS student community. It is definitely a small community, but I felt like I got to know a lot of other students in the AS program, and it was really nice to share stories about our different experiences with classes in other depts., and it was also fun when we were in the same classes and could recognize each other.

    - The breadth and diversity of the courses I got to take in AS were a big benefit. I also really liked how we got to learn about and engage with lots of different points of view and ways of thinking about the world. I also thought it was really cool how the program encouraged us to make connections between the different classes we took. Because our courses weren’t all in the same area, you had to think actively and creatively to make connections, and this was really fun and also helped me put my knowledge into action.

  8. What are your professional plans after graduation? Do you feel American Studies prepared you for that path? If so, how? If not, what would have helped to better prepare you for the job market or graduate school?

    - I am working for an online programmer this summer, and I’m planning to apply for a job at the NEHMA museum of art on campus in the fall.    

    - I am still not sure. I’d like to apply for a job in the foreign service or maybe do the Peace Corps. I want to travel and try out new things, and I think AS has really prepared me for jobs in these areas. There are exams for the foreign service, so I need to spend time studying for those, and I know the Peace Corps applications also take a lot of time.  

  9. What suggestions do you have for building a stronger “American Studies” community among our current majors and minors?

    - Keeping sending out the events calendar. I really liked that. And maybe do something where the graduating seniors talk about their experiences in the program for new students? I’m not sure.

    - I’d suggest adding another required class. We only do one—2630—and that’s where I met a lot of AS students, but then I never saw a lot of them again. Having another req. class later in the program would be helpful to keep us all connected.

  10. What ideas or suggestions do you have for promoting the American Studies program and recruiting students to the program?

    - Keep distributing posters and fliers about the program and keep doing the info sessions—those were really helpful. You might also have students to classes to promote the program, maybe classes like JCOM 1500.  

    - Get out and get the interests of the freshmen and find classes to promote the program besides just 2630. See if there are other kids in the humanities who haven’t declared a major—this might be a good fit because it’s so open and flexible. And I’d suggest using both faculty and current AS students to help recruit—that would work well to use both.

2016-17 Outcomes Data

On October 23, 2017, Dustin Crawford, Steve Shively, and Shane Graham of the American Studies Assessment committee met to evaluate the work of five graduating American Studies students. The essays are from the Fall of 2016 and the Spring of 2017, and the committee evaluated a total of eleven essays. Each reader evaluated each essay regarding three learning objects. Data is recorded in the chart below.

PART 1 of 2: DIRECT MEASURES (Rubric of Student Work) 

Common Learning Objectives in American Studies

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments, professional documents, or creative texts 0 1 6 4
Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications 0 0 5 6
Learning Objective 3: Communicate ideas effectively through writing 0 0 8 3

PART 2 of 2: INDIRECT MEASURES (Student Interviews) 

During the week of April 24-28, 2017, Dustin Crawford conducted exit interviews with five graduating American Studies students. Data from the exit interviews are recorded below.

Responses to exit interviews

  1. Why did you choose to become an American Studies major? What were your goals for pursuing this degree? What sorts of knowledge and skills did you hope to achieve?

    - I liked the broad interests. This program offered more than just literature, and I also liked the discussions and connections we could make between other classes. I also liked learning to express myself clearly in speech and writing

    - As a non-traditional student, I liked the blend of history, literature, and creative writing. I also liked the focus on critical thinking skills. I just love American Studies.

    - I started in nutrition, but I didn’t like the strictly professional approach of that program. I have a passion for the humanities and the arts, and I wanted to do what I loved. American Studies made that possible. The broad focus of the program was appealing. I was also interested in working in museums, and I knew this program would prepare me for museum jobs.

    - I liked the flexibility of American Studies and having control over my own academic experiences. I was planning to be a Poli-Sci major, but I felt out of control in Poli-Sci where I had to take courses that didn’t interest me. In American Studies, I had opportunities to improve my writing, research, and basic academic knowledge. I felt like a visitor before joining the AS program.

    - I was initially unsure of what to study. AS jumped out at me in the course catalog because I felt it offered me a chance to study what I truly value—knowledge and learning. I feel like college needs to be more than just prepping for a job, and AS allowed me to pursue my interests.

  2. As you graduate, what specific skills and knowledge do you think you have gained from completing the AS program?

    - Same as my first answer—to express myself more clearly in speech and writing

    -I have confidence in critical reading and thinking. I have a greater understanding of the real details in texts and the idea of close reading. I also learned how to apply my personality to my studies and how to link history and culture in my work.

    - Critical thinking, creativity, knowledge, and understanding. I also gained really good skills completing the museum certificate, which prepared me for a job. 

    - My writing has gotten a lot better, and I have more confidence in being a student and expressing my ideas.

    - I’ve become a learner who focuses on problem solving, and I’ve developed good critical and analytical skills. I can learn other skills on the job, but I can’t learn those skills.

  3. How did you choose your courses for the American Studies program?

    - I chose courses based on subject matter and the teachers.

    - All of my courses focused on Operation Babylift and Vietnam or, more broadly, my courses were tied to issues of childhood, war, the American experience, and social inequality. There were lots of courses I wanted to take, but I often had time conflicts.

    - The museum studies certificate set many of the courses I took, and I liked that the program allowed for double dipping with course credits. The museum studies certificate also restricted some of my courses. I mostly chose my courses based on topics of interest, primarily involving art and literature.

    - I chose my courses based on my interests and the advising of Susie Parkinson. Susie gave excellent guidance for courses. She is the reason I’m graduating.

    - I liked the changes made to the program when it was revised. I chose courses based on my interests. 

  4. In choosing your courses, did you end up developing a particular focus or area of emphasis? If so, what was it and how did you choose your courses to create this focus? If not, why didn’t you establish an area of focus?

    - I focused on literary analysis, and I took a lot of literature courses. Susie Parkinson was really helpful in developing my program of study.

    - I focused on the military, childhood, social inequality, and freedom. Melody Graulich’s s class on Twain was instrumental in influencing my studies, mainly because Dr. Graulich worked with me individually about my interests.

    - I doesn’t feel like I took enough AS classes. I wish I did a double major or took a minor, instead of just focusing on museum studies, which limited my focus a little bit. I was also ready to be done and graduate, though, which also limited my focus to museum studies more closely.

    - I focused on political science. I chose my courses based on my interests, Susie’s advice, and course availability. It wasn’t just English courses that weren’t always available. This also happened in Poli Sci where some courses are offered just once a year.

    - I focused on history and Poli Sci, broadly. More specifically, I concentrated on issues of social justice, constitutional law, and social deviance. I never felt restricted on course registration.

  5. What gaps emerged as you completed your American Studies degree? Are there particular topics, areas, issues, disciplines that you wish you could have studied?

    - No major fixes—I can’t think of anything I would change.

    - More classes on the US military and military history, especially Vietnam

    - Some courses are rare, like Native Am literature or American film, and I would like to see them offered more. Also, it never really felt like the AS students were part of a community, until we all took the capstone. It would be great if we had another required course that all AS students had to take, before the capstone, so we can get to know each other better. Maybe an AS theories and methods course or something like that, that we can take before our senior year.  Or have the capstone in the fall rather than in the spring so we can get to know each other before the very end of the program?

    - No changes. The new program was a big improvement from the old major.  

  6. What were the biggest challenges of being an American Studies major and what suggestions do you have to mitigate those challenges?

    - Lack of community. With a small major, students in the program need to be more unified. Creative Writing and Tech Writing students have a strong community. I often felt like an outsider in my classes unless there were other AS students there. I like the idea of having another required class, other than just the capstone, especially one that we had to take before our senior year.

    - The capstone was a problem.  As a non-traditional student, the technology and the contemporary writing theory that were so central to this course were out of my area of interest and experience. There was just too much work involving technology in all aspects of the class. The course was primarily directed toward Tech Writing students, not AS students. I didn’t feel AS students were being adequately acknowledged in this course. The course expected AS students to do things they had never done before and didn’t acknowledge our experiences or knowledge as AS students. I also had lots of scheduling problems because most of the courses I wanted to take were offered on T/Th at times I could not attend.

    - I didn’t understand all the opportunities in the program at the beginning, so having a clearer understanding of that would help. I loved the weekly event emails. There wasn’t really a strong sense of AS community for students. It would be great to have more core classes for majors and minors so we can all meet each other, aside from just 2630.

    - I had a lot of uncertainty about the career path for AS students. In other majors, students seem to be on a more prescribed path—they were career bound, and I often felt unsure and insecure about my future after graduation.

    - It would be great to have more info of post-grad plans and careers for AS majors. The capstone, though, really helped me with my job search. I would also like there to be more courses for AS majors to take together, maybe a specific theories and methods course that all AS students would be required to take.

  7. What was the biggest reward or benefit of being involved with the American Studies program?

    - Listening to other the way other disciplines approach topics. I also liked the diverse issues we covered and learning about the array of careers and ideas explored in each discipline.

    - The biggest reward was combining my interests in history, literature, Environmental studies, film, rock and roll, war, and social justice learning how to make content connections between each course.

    - Interacting with students and faculty from diff disciplines and the close knit group of friends and students I got to know.  I loved the other AS majors. I also loved being able to follow my passion and have responsibility for my own education.

    - I was empowered by doing what I wanted to do in a way that students in other majors are not. I loved the flexibility and freedom of the program. I loved being in charge of my own education.

    - The value of this program is that it kept my love of learning and knowledge alive. The common book by Matt Sanders told us to follow what you love and value every opportunity, and AS allowed me to do that. I’m very proud of my major. I’m proud I was able to design my own education.

  8. What are your professional plans after graduation? Do you feel American Studies prepared you for that path? If so, how? If not, what would have helped to better prepare you for the job market or graduate school?

    - I am taking a year off before trying to apply for grad school. I think I want to do grad work that’s related to literature. Next year, though, I plan to work and travel, and maybe end up back east. I’d ultimately like to go to grad school on the east coast. 

    - I will be working at USU and enrolling in a graduate program. I’m interested in tech writing jobs, and I’ll be teaching ASTE 3015 next year. AS helped me understand the importance of English and its connection to everything else.

    - I’ll be doing museum work here at USU, and I’d like to keep on with museum work in the future. I might possibly go to grad school in American Studies.

    - I will be going to USU’s American Studies grad program, and I have a graduate instructor position.

    - I have a job at the family history library in SLC. My dream is to go to grad school in library studies, with a focus on archival work. My AS internship prepared me for this.

  9. What suggestions do you have for building a stronger “American Studies” community among our current majors and minors?

    - Maybe an AS course to help develop a stronger cohort. We should also focus on getting involved with Day on the Quad to get freshmen involved in the major.

    - We need an AS conference like the English Symposium to feature AS students and work. I would also like a “senior project” class where we all work on research projects. The current capstone model doesn’t work. We need ways for there to be more collaboration between students so we can build more “togetherness” within the program. I also had a difficulty developing a clear focus to my work because I had so many broad interests.

    - Make sure everyone knows about the AS courses offered each semester. The new lists really helped with that—keep it up! There needs to be a stronger or more official student club to get buy in from more students and faculty. Maybe we can piggyback on another student club, like the ones for Tech Writing or Creative Writing?

    - I wished there was a stronger dedicated AS club or society.

    - It would be great for AS to be a more active and visible sponsor of campus wide events, such as the black and white jazz night or a poetry night. We can work together, looking for donations to support/promote these kinds of events, which would help make the program more visible and build community.

  10. What ideas or suggestions do you have for promoting the American Studies program and recruiting students to the program?

    - AS needs a website that can also be made available to prospective students. We can post weekly events there, and maybe highlight an AS faculty member each week, spotlighting their courses and areas of interest and research.

    - We can try to get more AS students to participate in the CHaSS Ambassadors program or to be on the CHASS council. Grant Bess is on there now, and he would be a good resource for AS studies. We should continue with having AS students visit classes to recruit them to the program. It would be nice to visit more classes than the ones we did this year. It would also be helpful to have a core course before the capstone to build community. Being required to take a class together would help us get to know each other more, before we all graduate.

    - An active AS Club would be helpful. Also, spotlighting potential careers for AS majors would be a good way to recruit, especially making these careers available on paper, in a flier.

    - I don’t have any ideas. I love the new program.

2015-16 Outcomes Data

On October 26, 2016, Keri Holt, Dustin Crawford, and Shane Graham of the American Studies Assessment committee met to evaluate the work of three graduating American Studies students. The essays are from the Fall of 2015 and the Spring of 2016. Each reader evaluated each essay in light of three learning objects.

PART 1 of 2: DIRECT MEASURES (Rubric of Student Work)

Common Learning Objectives in American Studies

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments, professional documents, or creative texts 0 0 2 1
Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications 0 0 2 1
Learning Objective 3: Communicate ideas effectively through writing 0 0 2 1

PART 2 of 2: INDIRECT MEASURES (Student Interviews)

Responses to exit interviews:

  1. Why did you choose to become an American Studies major? What were your goals for pursuing this degree? What sorts of knowledge and skills did you hope to achieve?

    I was interested in journalism, but I wanted to have a broader background in history and culture to help me be a better reporter. I hoped it would help me become a better thinking and writer with a broad base of knowledge.

    I found out about it at freshman orientation. I really liked the breadth of the degree—it allowed me to pursue a lot of things I was interested, but it also helped me focus as well. For instance, I originally wanted to be a History major, but AS gave me a way to focus my studies on America, while still pursuing a range of topics, which was my primary goal when I started.

    I started out in folklore, and I really liked it. You can’t major in folklore, though, so I went to the advising office and they suggested that AS would be a good fit with my interest in folklore. I was really drawn to the variety of courses I could take as well—there lots of different topics to explore, and I wanted to have a broad range in my education.

  2. As you graduate, what specific skills and knowledge do you think you have gained from completing the AS program?

    I definitely improved my writing, especially with learning to develop my own voice. I also learned how to write in more than one style. I know how to write as a journalist, as well as how to do creative writing, scholarly reports and analysis, and persuasive writing.

    I became a better writer, gaining skills in critical thinking, comparison, and detailed analysis.

    I gained experience in career planning and thinking about how to translate my education into jobs that involve writing. I also became a much better writer because I had to write so many different kinds of papers.

    I learned how to understand people better and have a better grasp of different perspectives. I also learned how to understand different perspectives and gain knowledge about experiences that are different from my own.

    I have a much more detailed and complicated understanding of American culture, which helps me think about how to be a good and engaged and active citizen.

    I have a better understanding of US history and literature.

    I also learned how to interpret different kinds of works, including news articles and media reports, film, music, scholarly studies, the internet, literature—it was nice to learn to analyze so many different kinds of things.

  3. How did you choose your courses for the American Studies program?

    It was often frustrating to figure out what courses were being offered and which ones counted for AS credit. We were given lists of courses when we started, and a lot of them sounded really cool, but so many of them were never offered. I ended up just taking whatever I could, based on what was offered each semester.

    We got a giant list of all the possible AS courses, but lots of those courses were never offered. It was hard to have a clear sense of what was being offered each semester and what was really available. I had to do a lot of work on my own to figure out what courses to take. The adviser was really helpful, but choosing courses was always kind of hard and confusing.

    It was hard to know what AS courses were offered each semester. I really wish we had a clear sense of what was available each semester. I had to do a lot of my own research to find out about courses and if they counted—I usually just emailed professors to ask, but sometimes, they didn’t know either. Some courses were often available, but they were really hard to get into, like “Introduction to Folklore.” It would be nice if there were more courses online for AS—I often ended up choosing courses that fit my work schedule, which made it hard to have a focus for my classes. More online courses would help.

  4. In choosing your courses, did you end up developing a particular focus or area of emphasis? If so, what was it and how did you choose your courses to create this focus? If not, why didn’t you establish an area of focus?

    I didn’t really have a way to organize my courses around a specific theme. I guess it’s possible to do that, but I think it would be really hard, mainly because of how hard it was to figure out what courses counted for AS each semester. I guess most of my courses were journalism, so that was kind of a focus, but I would have liked to concentrate more on an issue like gender as well.

    I often ended up choosing courses that fit my work schedule, which made it hard to have a focus for my classes. More online courses would help. In the end, though, I was able to have a pretty good folklore focus, but it was hard to do that.

    I tried to do a History focus, but it was hard because the history courses offered didn’t always fit my schedule.

  5. What gaps emerged as you completed your American Studies degree? Are there particular topics, areas, issues, disciplines that you wish you could have studied?

    I would really like to take more classes on Civil Rights and the early 20th century, pre-WWII, like the 1920s and stuff.

    I would like to take courses in Native American literature and culture—there weren’t really any on those, especially in the English dept. I’d also like more classes on environmental issues and nature writing—those were hard to find. Also, I’d like to take courses on American art and film—I was really interested in those, but didn’t have a way to find them. I would also have liked to take some courses in psychology.

    There were no courses in environmental studies, and I’m really interested in that. I’d like to see those kinds of classes. Also, classes on Native American issues would be cool, and also Native American literature and history. I never really found those. I’d also like to take a class on the history of the Vietnam War and civil rights.

  6. What were the biggest challenges of being an American Studies major and what suggestions do you have to mitigate those challenges?

    It was hard to find courses—I’d really like to have more guidance on the kinds of courses offered each semester.

    Doing this degree took a lot of independent work—finding courses, developing a focus, thinking of a capstone. We got a lot of good advising—the advising was really good—but I had to do a lot of work on my own for this degree. I liked the independence—it was one of the reasons I chose this program—but it was also kind of stressful at times. If I knew more about the classes offered each semester, I might have branched out in different directions.

    I really loved this program and didn’t see a lot of big challenges. Except maybe for finding courses each semester. That was kind of hard, and having more information about the courses ahead of time would help.

  7. What was the biggest reward or benefit of being involved with the American Studies program?

    The variety of classes and the different teachers and topics and methods I got to work with. I really loved that. I also loved learning about so many different perspectives.

    I loved the breadth and variety of the program. It was cool to be able to have access to so many different topics and disciplines and perspectives in one degree. Best of all, though, was learning about different communities of people and their histories and experiences. I have a much better understanding of different perspectives at work in our country, and I learned how to view them with respect and engagement. It was also nice to feel better connected to different people and depts. on campus, rather than just focusing on one academic space.

    I loved learning about history I didn’t know before—I learned so many new things, especially about the environment and the history of explorers in the west and the impact they had on the way we use land today. I really loved learning about environmental history, and I wish I could have had more. I wasn’t expecting to like it so much, but I did.

  8. What are your professional plans after graduation? Do you feel American Studies prepared you for that path? If so, how? If not, what would have helped to better prepare you for the job market or graduate school?

    I want to be a multimedia journalist, and I already have a job as a reporter for KMVT in Twin Falls, Idaho. I think AS really helped me become a better journalist by teaching me how to do research, how to write well, and how to ask good questions. It also taught me to think about finding different perspectives and how to think critically about important issues. It was a great degree for a journalist.

    I want to go into grant writing, particularly for museums. I’m also interested in getting involved in activist work, especially involving animal protection of environmental issues. AS helped me learn about the important issues that inform museum work and political activism, and it also taught me to be a good researcher and writer, which will help me in both of these areas.

    I have two ideas for work after I graduate. I did a minor in criminal justice, so I’m interested in becoming an advocate for victims of crime, although I know that might require me to get a law degree. Still, I think AS really prepared me to understand the issues facing victims of crime in the justice system, and I learned about history and how to do research and writing that will help me in law school. Before I go on to another degree, though, I want to work for a while, and I’m applying for jobs working at a museum, where I hope I can do PR and work on grants and public outreach. Again, my background in American history and research and writing will help me with applying for those jobs as well.

  9. What suggestions do you have for building a stronger “American Studies” community among our current majors and minors?

    Find ways for people in the program to meet each other and work together, and maybe plan events where AS students can do things together outside of class

    Start up an AS student club and find other ways to build a strong students community.

    Maybe plan activities or service projects to get AS students working together as a community that will bring them together outside of their classes. I’d be especially interested in service projects that will help us find ways to apply the skills we’re learning in our classes.

  10. What ideas or suggestions do you have for promoting the American Studies program and recruiting students to the program?

    Maybe visit high schools so students have an idea about the program before they start at college?

    Start a Facebook page for the program or do a website? You can also highlight student projects (capstones and internships?) on social media (Facebook, Twitter, even CANVAS?).

    Highlight jobs you can get with an AS degree—maybe highlight what alumni are doing? Get alumni to come speak to students? I think the key is emphasizing the wide range of different kinds of jobs people can do with this degree.

    Advertise all the different and interesting classes you can do in this program. Invite current students to speak about the program, not just faculty. Visit classes and promote the program to people who are already taking AS classes.

2014-15 Outcomes Data

PART 1 of 2: DIRECT MEASURES (Rubric of Student Work)

Common Learning Objectives in American Studies

Unacceptable:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is not provided, is unconvincing, or very incomplete

Marginal:

Evidence that the student has mastered this objective is provided, but it is weak or incomplete

Acceptable:

Evidence shows that the student has generally attained the objective

Exceptional:

Evidence demonstrates that the student has mastered this objective at a high level

Learning Objective 1: Reach compelling conclusions through the development of critical arguments, professional documents, or creative texts 0 0 2 3
Learning Objective 2: Weigh alternative systems of thought or approaches, recognizing their assumptions and implications 0 1 2 2
Learning Objective 3: Communicate ideas effectively through writing 0 2 2 1

PART 2 of 2: INDIRECT MEASURES (Student Interviews)

We conducted two exit interviews at the end of the Spring 2015 semester with two graduating seniors.  The exit interview consisted of ten questions that asked students about strengths and weakness of the program, their experience of choosing their coursework, their interaction with faculty, the skills they felt they acquired in the program, their career plans, and their suggestions for improving the program.

Both students felt that the program did a good job in teaching students about a diverse range of topics and perspectives in American history, art, and culture, and they felt that the diversity of topics and classes was one of its greatest strengths, providing them with background and methods that can help them pursue a wide range of jobs. Both also spoke about the program’s ability to teach strong writing and research skills, as well as oral communication skills. They particularly emphasized that the diversity of topics and disciplines taught them to write for different audiences, which was a skill they felt was valuable in preparing them for a wide range of jobs.  The students also mentioned that the faculty was a particular strength of the program. Both reported that they received one-on-one attention from faculty in their American Studies courses, and that they developed close relationship with many of them. They felt that the faculty did a great job in advising them about their coursework and their courses, as well as helping them think about possible career options.

Both spoke of the difficulty of organizing their coursework to pursue a specific focus. Instead of choosing courses based on their specific interests, they often selected courses based on availability and scheduling, which made it hard to develop a clear thematic or disciplinary focus. Neither felt this was a particular problem, however, as they felt that the diverse range of their coursework was a benefit on its own. Both felt that the lack of a clear focus was a result of their own scheduling choices, rather than a serious problem with the program.  

Both students had specific career goals after graduation, and they felt that the American Studies program had prepared them for those goals. One student was interested in a career in policy work, and she felt her background in US history and politics, combined with her research and writing skills, has prepared her to seek out opportunities in this field. Specifically, she was applying for volunteer and internship positions with USU’s Disability Resource Center and the Utah chapter of the National Federation for the Blind. The other student was planning to apply for a graduate degree in either law or public policy in a few years, and, in the meantime, she was applying for jobs that involved research and writing, focusing specifically on a position at KUED (a public television station), local libraries, and a grant-writing position.

As far as suggestions for improving the program, both students felt that it was important to find ways to create a greater sense of community among American Studies students. Both said they felt a bit isolated in the department since they didn’t really know any of the other American Studies students. They suggested having events such as speakers or movie nights or events at the art museum to bring students together and help them feel more connected to the program.

2013-14 Outcomes Data

No data available for 2013-14.

2012-13 Outcomes Data

No data available for 2012-13

2011-12 Outcomes Data

No data available for 2011-12

2010-11 Outcomes Data

No data available for 2010-11.