CMR Assessment Report—2010

 

Learning Goals for CMR Majors

  1. Students develop a historical and theoretical understanding of the three areas of Communication, Media, and Rhetoric.
  2. Students use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to these three areas to describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse.
  3. Students demonstrate advanced mastery of a variety of ways to construct and send messages.

 

I. Communication Studies

We do not currently have a tenure-line faculty member assigned to this area.  The “class of 2010” may have taken Communication Theory with Professors Burke or Leroux, or with Instructor Schmidgall (no longer at UMM).  Since approaches, assignments and even selected texts and readings differed, we did not attempt to find conformity in student-materials to review.

We supply no data for review of  “Communication.”  Our analysis is that we need to have a faculty member with this specialty, who can offer our program breadth, quality and consistency.

II.  Media Studies

 

Professor Barbara Burke did this assessment. The details of this assessment are described below.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, learning goal #2 was addressed: "The students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to… describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse." The expected outcome was stated by our assessment documents as: "The students will be able to choose from a variety of methods to describe and evaluate a specific act or artifact."

 

Data and Assessment

Raw data was collected from reviewing the students’ personal portfolios during the spring senior seminar.  Scholarly journal article critique papers from CMR 3301, Media Theory, were evaluated for this review. Data described in this study reflects the work of the "class of 2010."

 

There were six students in the CMR 4901 senior seminar who were asked to submit portfolios.  One student was excused because he was currently enrolled in the course for which the papers are written.  Of the remaining five people (ten papers possible) five papers were submitted. Therefore, the collected papers serve as a sample, rather than a total representation of this cohort.

 

The learning objective/expected outcome became identified as comprised by the following specific criteria:

(1)    Ability to cite sources in proper style and format

(2)    Ability to use one's own words to describe the major issues/ arguments/ themes of the article

(3)    Ability to identify and summarize an application of a selected research method

(4)    Ability to identify and describe the relevant theory studied

(5)    Ability to write a critical discussion, evaluating the research study conducted by the journal article author.

 

Results

Each criteria was evaluated by a 5 point scale (5= excellent, 0= fail). Each paper was given an average score. Average scores ranged from 4.2 to 5. The "class average" for all averaged scores-calculated to find a "typical" paper"--was 4.6. Specific criteria averages were also studied, to identify areas of strengths and areas needing improvement. Averages for the “class of ’10 ” are summarized below

 

 

Citing

Writing

Method

Theory ID

Evaluation

CMR 3301

 

5.0

 

4.2

 

4.6

 

4.4

 

4.8

 

Analysis:

(1)    Citation skill is consistently strong, but may be explained by the new, easier-to-use library index providing a downloadable citation the student now merely needs to past into his/ her document.

(2)    Basic writing skills seem to have diminished slightly.     It may be time to consider spending more class time on basic writing instruction.  Student writing proficiency may also be tied to the level of integration between this course and the Communication Theory course.  At one point the two classes has a series of comparable writing assignments (journal article critique, annotated bibliography, research proposal.)  The combination between the courses gave students more opportunities to write these papers and receive feedback leading to improvement.  Possibly if we are permitted to refill our previous tenure-line position and to hire a permanent faculty member to teach the Communication area, we can once again integrate assignments to improve student writing in the major.

(3)    Student identification of relevant media theories in research articles decreased slightly from 2009 summary levels. Success in this domain (reviewing and evaluating research studies) may rather be more reflected in work done later in the major, e.g., the senior seminar capstone experience than in the reviewed materials, often written during majors’ sophomore or junior years in the curriculum.  The indirect assessment statements of this cohort of graduates indicate that they feel confident that they know about media theories.

(4)    Student evaluation of scholarly arguments increased slightly in score, from 4.7 to 4.8.  Critical thinking and evaluation is valued greatly by the discipline.

 

III. Rhetorical Studies

Professor Mary Elizabeth Bezanson, completed and submitted this section May 4, 2010.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

This assessment relates to Learning Goal #1: “Students will develop an historical and theoretical understanding of … rhetoric” and Learning Goal #2: “Students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to…rhetoric…to describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse.”

 

Data and Assessment

Embedded Assessment from History of Rhetoric:  Classical to Modern Period

Fall 2009    Pretest n=12   Post-test n=10

 

Results

Survey questions:

1.  Provide a definition of “rhetoric.”

Pre  0

Post 9

 

2.  Provide the name of a classical rhetorician. ____________________

Pre 9

Post 9

 

3.  Name one feature of that person’s rhetorical theory:

Pre 0

Post 8

 

4.  What feature of the historical context accounted for this person’s theory?

Pre 0

Post 8

 

5.  Name one medieval or renaissance rhetorician. _________________

Pre 0

Post 10

 

6.   Name one feature of that person’s rhetorical theory:

Pre 0

Post 9

 

7.  What feature of the historical context accounted for this person’s theory?

Pre 0

Post 8

 

10.  Define “liberal arts.”

Pre-well rounded, basis of knowledge, knowledge of little bit of everything

Post-well rounded, links between disciplines

 

11. What is rhetoric’s relationship to the liberal arts?  Why is that important today?

Pre 1 response

Post 10 responses focusing on R’s use at all levels, central to how all disciplines function, importance in today’s world recognized in that R is used everywhere

 

 

Analysis:

Class succeeded in:

              Instilling in students a working definition of rhetoric

              Deepening their understanding of a classical rhetorical figure’s theory

              Expanding their knowledge of rhetorical history by giving them access to a

                            medieval figure and that individual’s theory

              Developing an understanding of the relationship between a given rhetorical

                            theory and the cultural context in which fostered its development

              Developing an understanding for the importance of Rhetoric throughout human

                            history with a recognition of the role Rhetoric plays in the student’s lives.

 

Class will continue to work:

              To develop an understanding of the “liberal arts” which moves beyond the notion         

                            of “well rounded.”

 

IV.  Indirect Assessment

 

This is the second year we have used this holistic, interpreted measurement.  The following survey was administered to the students at the end of the senior seminar course.  Six of the six returned completed forms.  The data are summarized in the respective fields.

 

We directed: Please answer the following questions in regards to how well you feel you have met the discipline goals. 

 

Results


 

Strongly disagree

Disagree

Neutral

Agree

Strongly agree

G1:  I am able to name some communication theories

 

 

 

50%

50%

G1:  I am able to name some media theories

 

 

 

50%

50%

G1:  I can define rhetoric

 

 

17%

17%

67%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G2:  I know an approach to use to describe communication experiences

 

 

 

 

 

67%

 

33%

G2:  I know a method to use to evaluate media effects

 

 

 

67%

33%

G2:  I can use rhetoric to describe a chosen piece of discourse

 

 

17%

33%

50%

G2:  I can construct an analysis or evaluation of observable communication interactions

 

 

 

 

67%

 

33%

G2:  I can analyze media

 

 

 

67%

33%

G2:  I can evaluate rhetoric

 

 

17%

50%

33%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G3:  I have learned what it takes to be an effective communicator

 

 

* 17% “no answer”

33%

50%

(* Note:  17% = 1/6).

 

Analysis

The scores suggest that the students feel the curriculum is mostly successful in meeting the learning objectives. 

 

Additionally, although statistics may fairly well describe patterns and trends in large population studies, when working with such a small number of seniors, this summary can suggest some outcomes, but is heavily influenced by instances when a single individual is varying from the others.

 

The class of 2010 represents students who have completed the 2007-2009 version of the CMR major.  Extensive revision, with improvements and changes are in the degree requirements for the 2009-2011 version of the major.  We have designed the “new” major so that first year students complete three CMR classes, including Introduction to Theories, Introduction to Public Speaking, and Interpersonal & Groups.   We recommend the students in their sophomore and junior years focus on the electives within the major.  The senior year will include Advanced Public speaking, and a two-course Senior Seminar sequence.

 

 

V. GenEd Assessment

 

The CMR discipline began assessing our GenEds in 2010. 

 

Learning Objectives

For CMR 3301 students were told:

This course carries the SS GenEd designator.  The UMM catalog defines SS courses as about Human Behavior, Social Processes, and Institutions,  working:

To increase students’ systematic understanding of themselves as functioning humans, their individual similarities to and differences from others, their awareness of the nature and significance of their conscious experience, and the forces that shape their interactions; or to increase students’ understanding of the methods of analyzing modern society or some significant legal, political, economic, religious, social, or scientific component of it.

 

 

Data and analysis

The students were directed to write an explanation of how they thought the class fulfilled the task.  Ten of the eleven enrolled students anonymously returned the form. 

 

Results

The responses were all affirming that the goal was met. 

 

Some of the offered comments include: “understanding the media is fundamental for understanding human behavior;” “The class strengthens critical thinking skills—It offers various methods and theories that aid us as students to question ourselves and our surroundings;” and “Overall this course creates a broad view of how people can be affected by media and other aspects in the public world.”

 

Analysis

Since this is the first year we have collected responses regarding this criterion, we have no comparative data within the CMR discipline.  Additionally, since we do not have access to the assessment of other SS designated courses, we cannot comment on the comparative success of our offering.

 

From student responses, we believe we are very successful with clarifying the intention of the course within the larger assortment of Liberal Arts offerings at UMM.