Submitted Summer, 2005
This constitutes the assessment report for the Women’s Studies Program for the spring 2005 which is the first semester in which we put our new assessment plan into effect. This year the plan consisted of three parts: an assessment exam given to both the WSTD 220 Intro to Women’s Studies class and to all WSTD 420 Senior Seminar students, an evaluation of all senior seminar papers, and a focus group discussions held with senior seminar students.
Our assessment plans evaluated designated student learning objectives in the areas of knowledge, skills, and values.
Ultimately 16 students in WSTD 220 and 4 students from WSTD 420 completed an assessment exam for which they were given no specific preparation or warning. The exam asked them to respond to six questions which addressed their knowledge, skills, and values relating to Women’s studies (See appendix for the exam) Teams of faculty from the Women’s Studies Advisory Council then evaluated the anonymous exams using the below rubric.
Senior Seminar Papers
Three Senior Seminar papers were assessed this year which, given the small number of students, is rather hard to analyze.
Focus Group Report
On April 19, 2004 two members of the Women’s Studies Advisory Council met with Senior Seminar students to discuss their experiences within the Women’s Studies Program.
The assessment tools and data above were used to evaluate the following learning objectives established by the Women's Studies Program in its Assessment Plan.
- Students will be able to identify and define the vocabulary and analytical concepts associated with women’s studies.
This learning objective was evaluated by the assessment exam.
Question #1 on the Assessment Exam Rubric stated, “Student demonstrated the ability to correctly define the vocabulary and analytical concepts associated with Women’s Studies.” WS420 students certainly performed better on this question than did WS220 students with 50% in the Superior to Very Good range. Still, we cannot be completely satisfied since the other 50% ranked only Fair. In contrast, however, 61% of WS220 students ranked Fair, Poor, or N/A on this question. So, although we might like to see better performance from WS420 students, at least we can say they do have a better command of the vocabulary and analytical concepts associated with women’s studies than do the WS220 students.
- Students will demonstrate knowledge about women’s roles, experiences, history, or contributions and incorporate it into their major field of study in a meaningful way
This learning objective was evaluated by the Assessment Exam, Senior Seminar paper and in the Focus Group discussion.
Question # 2 of the Assessment Exam Rubric evaluated student knowledge of how the Women’s Studies Minor might be used to complement an academic major. On this question, 38% of WS220 students ranked Good or Very Good while 62% ranked Fair, Poor, or N/A. In contrast, 75% of WS 420 students ranked Good or Very Good, and only 25% Poor. Still, it is a bit disturbing that even one of the 4 WS 420 students ranking poorly on this question and that none ranked superior.
Perhaps fortunately, the Focus Group also addressed this learning objective by asking the Senior Seminar students how the WS minor worked with their major field of study and enriched their understanding of the major. All of the students interviewed seemed to have a solid grasp on how the minor worked with their major and were quite articulate in discussing the intersection of the two fields. This was an encouraging sign that perhaps they know more than was apparent on the assessment exam.
Question # 3 in the Senior Seminar Rubric assessed the paper in terms of its “accurate demonstration of knowledge about women’s roles, experiences, history, or contributions” while Question # 4 assessed its “meaningful incorporation of knowledge about women into the student’s major field of study.” Of the three papers evaluated, one each was rated Superior, Very Good, and Competent for each paper. These scores suggest that at least 2 of the 3 students achieved our learning objectives in most satisfactory way, but again its hard to draw any conclusions about our program based on this sample pool.
In the Focus Group discussion the three students were asked to display their knowledge about women’s roles, experiences, history, or contributions by describing their Senior Seminar paper, thesis and sources. Since many of these students were still at a very preliminary stage in their research, this aspect of the discussion was less successful.
- Students will demonstrate an ability correctly to use the vocabulary and analytical concepts associated with women’s studies.
This learning objective was evaluated by the Senior seminar paper.
Questions #1 and #2 on the Senior Seminar Rubric evaluated correct use of vocabulary and analytical concepts associated with women’s studies. Once again, of the three papers evaluated, one was ranked Superior, one Very Good, and one Competent for each question. The Senior Seminar paper seems a good tool for evaluating the actual skills of our students, but again the pool is so small that it is very difficult to reach any real conclusions.
- Students will demonstrate an awareness of the significance of gender and gender roles in contemporary society.
This learning objective was evaluated by the assessment exam and the focus group discussion.
Question #3 of the Assessment exam Rubric evaluated student awareness “of the significance of gender and gender roles in contemporary society.” Again, 37% of WS220 students ranked Very Good or Good on this question while 61% were rated Fair, Poor, or N/A. Among WS420 students the picture was better. 75% were ranked Very Good or Good and 25% Fair. This would seem to suggest that most of our Senior Seminar students at least appreciate the significance of their minor.
The Focus Group Discussion also addressed this question asking the students how the WS program had increased their awareness of the significance of gender and gender roles. All three students were able to give concrete examples explaining how their awareness had expanded thanks to the program.
- Students will strive for equity and fairness in gender relations in their own lives and in society as a whole.
This learning objective was evaluated by the assessment exam.
Question #4 evaluated student willingness to “demonstrate a desire to strive for equity and fairness in gender relations in his/her own life and in society as a whole.” WS220 students showed the greatest polarization on this question. 18% were ranked Superior or Very Good but most, by far, 81%, were ranked Fair, Poor, or N/A. WS420 students did better, but not as well as we might have expected. Of the 4 students 1 each (or 25%) was ranked Superior, Very Good, Good, and Fair.
The Women’s Studies Advisory Council discussed these results at a meeting on Sept. 15, 2005. One issue of particular concern was that some students in the Senior Seminar had not yet taken or were only just then taking WSTD 220. Obviously that situation would skew our assessment results. To prevent that in the future, the Council voted to make WSTD 220 a prerequisite for WSTD 420. The Council also had a long discussion about the ideal structure for WSTD 420 but did not yet reach a conclusion. The Council also discussed various ways to increase recruitment, something that came up in the Focus group discussion. One idea is to have the IOTA members visit various Intro level classes that count for WS credit. In general, however, the Council felt that one semester of data, especially based on so few students is insufficient for making any curricular decisions. For the future, we will collect data annually, but will analyze and report on it only every third year. An exception to this will be the Focus Group reports which we will discuss every year.
For now the assessment plan appears to be working adequately, although again, its hard to be sure, based on so few students. Still, no obvious flaws appeared in the assessment exams or rubrics thus far.