Two members of the assessment committee met with Women's Studies students. The meeting took place on April 23 when the committee met with 3 students from Dr. Diane Kholos Wysocki's senior seminar. The following is a summary of the student responses from both meetings.
Why did you choose a Women's Studies minor? What attracted you to the program?
Students had an interest in human rights that went along with their majors and their interests. One student said she needed a minor and found it in the catalog and felt that WS would go along with her interests. Other students were recruited into WS from other classes and said matched their research interests (her first research project fit WS program)
In what ways has your Women's Studies minor broadened your understanding of current events? Do you watch the news differently or read the newspaper differently as a result of studying Women's Studies?
Most students responded that their Women's Studies classes have helped them to make connections between current events and the past. It has helped to make it easier to understand the events of the day by providing historical feminist background to what is currently happening in the world as it relates to gender issues. One student commented Women's Studies made a difference and changed the way she viewed the world. For example she said "I realized that political science was male-centered." Another student said tht Women's Studies helped make her more comfortable dealing with sexual issues and increased her awareness of human rights issues.
How has studying Women's Studies deepened your understanding of societal differences? How have your Women's Studies minor courses integrated cultural diversity?
The students responded that studying life from a Women's Studies perspective has made them aware of different cultures throughout the world and given them more understanding of cultural differences. One student commented that she pays more attention now to differences and problems between social classes and that Women's Studies has given her tools to answer questions and start to think for herself. Another student added that Women's Studies gave her critical thinking skills to look at the reasons behind things in the news and taught her not to take things at face. Other students said the classes made them more aware of cultural differences and diversity
What did you read before college? What do you read now? What books from your Women's Studies classes have influenced you the most?
Many students said that studying Women's Studies has led them to read scholarly history books in their free time. One student commented that prior to taking Women's Studies classes she read what the teachers assigned and mysteries. Now all the students said they were more interested in books about liberated women and one student even read newsletters on human rights abuses. Particular books of interest were Desert Flower; Memoirs of a Geisha; Incidents of a Slave Girl; World Split Open.
What did you learn about gender, diversity, sexuality, that you didn't know before you became part of the Women's Studies program?
The students believed that Women's Studies pushed their boundaries. One student stated that she saw a secular ideology about sex and gender. Another said that she believed she was now culturally more educated and has more background knowledge to defend her ideas. Another student said that she felt a sense of empowerment because she came to college with set of beliefs, now Women's Studies made them stronger.
Did you get what you wanted out of the program?
The students came to the program not really knowing what they would get so they said they had no expectations. However, they felt they got much more than they thought they would.
What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of the Women's Studies program?
With regard to the Women's Studies program's strengths, the students commented that they liked the small classes and the opportunity to get to know, not only their professors, but other students. They liked the ability to discuss, have an intellectural exchange, and to collaborate with their research projects. They also liked utilizing different faculty during senior seminar (i.e. having someone else besides the director come to explain statistics). The students believed that this environment prepared them for the bigger world when they graduate and that they could apply what they have learned to different fields or careers as well as the feeling they can educate others about these issues.
With regard to the Women's Studies programs weaknesses, student comments included the following: too sociologically based and influenced, lack of network between students (no club, no larger group), would like more integration with WS council to provide different kinds of mentoring, classes are sometimes repetitive because they are often times sociology. Students would like to see history of feminism, feminist theory and more feminist research methods