Each year, current graduate assistants are required to submit a portfolio. This portfolio (and its assessment) is required for requests to the Graduate Office for the continuation of the assistantship, the renewal of the position, and/or the creation of a new assistantship position. This portfolio includes the following:
- Current curriculum vitae
- Self-assessment statement
- Statement of teaching strategies, goals, philosophy, and accomplishments
- Written description of class visitation by the Composition Coordinator
- Statistical scanning sheets for undergraduate student evaluation of courses
(and, as an option, any written student remarks)
- Evidence of participation in scholarly, creative, and/or service activities
(such as conferences, presentations/readings, publications, community
Students may also submit comments pertinent to their academic performance.
The Composition Coordinator and Graduate Director (and any other supervisors or mentors to whom the assistant may be assigned) submit letters of evaluation. In addition to verifying that the assistant has maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher and demonstrated sufficient progress to retain the assistantship position, these evaluations examine the portfolio materials for general evidence of the knowledge and skills [see 1-5 under “Assessment Mission Statement”] and of the values [see a-d under “Assessment Mission Statement”] included in the program objectives. They are particularly useful in assessing the values objectives. As the evaluations touch on the elements of the portfolio, they comment specifically on the following elements of the portfolio:
- The extent to which the current curriculum vita shows the ability to communicate clearly and objectively and presents the unique student in an accurate and persuasive manner;
- The extent to which the self-assessment statement portrays a student with a commitment to life-long learning and an ability to connect academic and ethical concerns, and presents a unique and curious individual of integrity seeking to play a role in intellectual and community forums
- The extent to which the statement of teaching strategy, goals, philosophy, and accomplishments incorporates the student's literary knowledge, critical ability, and acquaintance with appropriate rhetorical, research, and critical practice and terminology; shows creative assignments and an engaging and nurturing pedagogy; embodies accurate understanding of the courses taught and their place in the curriculum; and is borne out in the written description of class visitation by the Composition Coordinator
- The extent to which the statistical scanning sheets for student evaluation of courses (and, as an option, any written student remarks) and the statement of teaching strategy, goals, philosophy, and accomplishments indicate that the teacher's and the students' perceptions of the classroom experience are similar;
- The extent to which evidence of participation in scholarly, creative, and/or service activities (such as conferences, presentations/readings, publications, community service) portray an active engagement in the profession and verify a willingness to contribute to the profession, the literature of the field, and the greater public.
one of the members of the department Graduate Program Committee
using the Portfolio Rubric
Graduate students submit writing samples each semester in which they are enrolled in coursework with an expository writing component. The Assessment Committee (three graduate faculty, selected at random) reads and evaluates these samples, with student names converted to numbers to maintain anonymity. The committee uses a standard rubric constructed by the committee and a set of protocols for each of the categories in the rubric constructed in consultation with faculty involved in program assessment. Each assessor gives one score per category. [Should any of the faculty serving on the committee turn out to be the faculty for whom papers were originally submitted, the faculty member recuses himself or herself during consideration of that particular paper.]
The department Graduate Handbook states that this assessment is conducted each semester, with the results filed for longitudinal studies and conveyed to appropriate committees (e.g. the Graduate Committee) for program improvement. Given the other levels of assessment that also demanded labor-intensive evaluation of student writing, papers from the last academic year are at this point not scored
The guidelines for evaluating sample essays are as follows:
- Each essay is identified by a number system only (keyed to student name held in (separate file)
- The committee begins, before assessing essays, with an agreed understanding of the protocol (norm referencing) for each evaluated category [see protocol below]
- Two members of the committee—or, in cases where the scores of the two readers are not consistent (not touching scores), three readers—read each essay and score it independently
- Final scores are calculated as an average of all scores received.
Over the course of a graduate student's program in English, the Assessment Committee administers a Graduate Student Personal Assessment Survey similar to that given at the undergraduate level in the capstone courses. The department Graduate Program Committee uses these self-assessments to determine the level of graduate student satisfaction with the overall learning experience and the component parts of the graduate program in English.
After completion of the thesis defense or comprehensive exam, students are asked to complete an exit survey of open-ended questions soliciting information about and feedback on various aspects of their experience in the program.
Assessment of Assessment Process
Annually, the assessment committee re-evaluates the assessment model and instruments, using previous experience to refine the protocols and rubrics employed.