Speech Communication Discipline Report for the ASL Committee (Spring 2006)

 

            The Speech Communication Discipline (SPCH) has been divided into three areas, according to the classes taught by the existing instructors: (1) Rhetorical Studies, (2) Media Studies and Technology, and (3) Communication Studies. Therefore, this report will be divided into three parts accordingly; each part will provide the results of their students’ learning assessments and its own recommendations.

The assignments assessed in this task were drawn from upper level classes in the major. The scale of five was generally practiced (5= excellent, and 0= fail). Please keep in mind that each area may have their own difference in assessment details because of the nature of each area, but they have come up with the results and recommendations that will help determine the directions of the areas and the discipline as a whole. The data in this assessment report are the written assignments, as available, done by the students in the major who graduated in spring 2006. (Throughout the major, students are asked to create personal portfolios, which are evaluated collectively during the senior year.)

 

I. Rhetorical Studies

            Because there are two faculty members in this area, there will be two sections in this area: (1) Prof. Mary Elizabeth Bezanson’s assessment and (2) Prof. Neil Leroux’s assessment. The details are below.

 

A. Learning Objective #1 Assessment

Prof. Mary Elizabeth Bezanson is the one who did this assessment, based on Learning Objectives #1 (Students will develop an historical and theoretical understanding of rhetoric.). The details of this assessment can be described below.

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, two expected outcomes of Learning Objectives #1 were addressed: (1) students will be able to compare and evaluate various theoretical approaches, and (2) students will demonstrate a sensitivity to the historical dimensions of theory building.

Data and Criteria for Assessing

Data were drawn from six student papers in SPCH 3101 History of Rhetoric from the Classical to Modern Periods and reviewed.  The criteria for this assessment included: (1) ability to cite sources, (2) ability to paraphrase the messages from the sources, and (3) ability to recognize the describe links between rhetorical theory and historical context.
 

Results

The results were given according to the types of criteria. The details are given below:
(1)   Ability to cite source—student average: 4.0 of 5.0.
(2)   Ability to paraphrase the messages from the sources—student average: 3.6 of 5.0.
(3)   Ability to recognize the describe links between rhetorical theory and historical context—          student average: 3.16 of 5.0.

 

Citing

Paraphrasing

Analysis

SPCH 3101
(6 papers)

4.00

3.60

3.16

 

Recommendations

(1) Maintain text to fully assess effect. Students in this group were from different classes that used different texts.

(2) Efforts to make links explicit showing some gains.

 

Remarks

None

 

(B) Prof. Neil Leroux ‘s Assessment

Prof. Neil Leroux is the one who did this assessment, based on Learning Objective #2 (“The students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to…rhetoric…to describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse.”). The details of his assessment can be described below.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, the expected outcome of Learning Objective #2 was addressed: “The students will be able to choose from a variety of methods to describe and evaluate a specific act or artifact.”

 

Data and Criteria for Assessing

Three papers from SPCH 4201 (Persuasion: Receiver Analysis) and three papers from SPCH 3211 (Public Address) were assessed on three criteria: (1) ability to cite sources, (2) ability to paraphrase the message from the sources, and (3) ability to analyze the discourse. 

 

Results

The results were given according to the types of criteria. The details are given below:

(1)  Ability to cite sources—students averaged 4.66 of 5.0.

(2)  Ability to paraphrase the message from the sources—students averaged 4.66 of 5.0

(3)  Ability to analyze the discourse—students averaged 4.76 of 5.0.

 

 

Citing

Paraphrasing

Analyzing

SPCH 4201 (3 papers)

&

SPCH 3211 ( 3 papers)

 

 

4.66

 

 

4.66

 

 

4.76

 

Recommendations

For program adjustments, an additional writing step in two courses that have discourse analysis assignments is desirable, whereby revisions of the previous draft are required. Also, writing problems will be handled, but the instructor will not “fix” the problems. Rather, students themselves are required to figure out how to fix them with assistance from the instructor.

 

Remarks

None

 

 

 

II. Media Studies and Technology

Prof. Barbara Burke is the one who did this assessment. The details of this assessment can be described below.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, learning objective (#2) was addressed: "The students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to…electronic mass media 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 Criteria for Assessing

Throughout the major, students create personal portfolios which are evaluated collectively during the senior year. Data described in this study reflects the work of the "class of 2006," including papers written in 2003, 2004, and 2005.  Scholarly journal article critique papers from SPCH 3301 Media Theory were collected for this review.

 

Fifteen papers were analyzed in 2006. 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 communication 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 ’06 ” are summarized below

 

 

Citing

Writing

Method

Theory ID

Evaluation

SPCH 3301

4.8

4.4

4.8

4.4

4.6

 

Evaluation and Recommendations

Last year we considered three changes:

(1)  Although average scores in some evaluation areas are slightly lower than previous years, the “typical paper” and the range from highest to lowest papers are closer to a desirable target.   (For example, whereas last year a paper had a 2.8, this year the lowest paper was evaluated as a 4.2)

(2)  Citation style and basic writing skills continue to improve.  We adopted a newer version of the style manual two years ago, and the class spent more time on basic writing instruction.  The result was a change in citing from 4.0 in ’04 to 4.2 in ’05 to 4.8 in ‘06.

(3)  Student identification of relevant media theories in research articles decreased slightly in score, from 4.6 to 4.4.  Possibly this is due to instructional time taken from course content in order to allow for more time in writing instruction and the activities of the research process.   The decision to focus on basic writing will not be discarded.  However, a new text and more unit exams have been adopted for ’06 and this may aid in a change in future years in student content knowledge.

(4)  Student evaluation of scholarly arguments decreased slightly in score, from 4.8 to 4.6 More practice in evaluating research has been added to an assignment in the course, but it comes later than the assignment reviewed by the portfolio.  Therefore, by the end of the term, students are likely to have more knowledge than this portfolio collection indicates.  This area has been enhanced by an addition of a greater opportunity for students to propose and design research projects within the media theory course, as a group exercise, and is not currently part of the portfolio review.  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.

 

 

III. Communication Studies

 

Prof. Rujira Rojjanaprapayon is the one who did this assessment. The details of this assessment can be described below.

 

Learning Objective/Expected Outcome

In this assessment, two learning objectives and their expected outcomes were addressed:

 

Objective #1: Students will develop an historical and theoretical understanding of…communications….

Expected Outcomes:

(1)    Students will be able to compare and evaluate various theoretical approaches.

(2)    Students will demonstrate a sensitivity to the historical dimensions of theory building.

Objective #2: The students will use a variety of assigned theoretical approaches appropriate to…communications…to describe and evaluate assigned or chosen discourse.

Expected Outcomes:

(1)    The students will be able to choose from a variety of methods [italics added] to describe and evaluate a specific act or artifact.

 

 

In general, the students are expected to be able to “compare, evaluate, and choose a variety of concepts, theories, and methods; to describe and evaluate a specific act(s) or artifact(s); and to assess their work’s quality.”

 

Data and Criteria for Assessing

Final papers from three courses in 2003, 2004, and 2005 were reviewed: (1) SPCH 3401 (Human Communication Theory—major core course), SPCH 3411 (Intercultural Communication), and (3) SPCH 3421 (Organizational Communication). The number of papers used in this assessment varied because of the availability.  Data described in this study reflects the work of the “class of 2006.” Also, the number of criteria in this 2006 study has been the same to fit all three courses’ assignment characteristics; the list of the criteria is below:

(1)  Ability to cite sources

(2)  Ability to paraphrase the messages from the sources

(3)  Ability to classify, clarify, and assess/criticize any relevant concepts, perspectives and/or theories

(4)  Ability to (a) identify and summarize research methods used in sources and/or                                       (b) select and apply research methods used in their own work

(5)  Ability to (a) describe/evaluate a specific act, discourse or artifact and/or                                                (b) assess their own work (e.g., the implications of their works/studies)

 

The results were given according to the types of criteria. The details of the student average (scale of 5) are given below:

Results

 

Citing Sources

Paraphrasing

Concept/ Theory

Method

Analysis/

Assessment

Class 2006 Average

SPCH 3401

(8 papers)

4.44

4.62

4.56

4.62

4.62

4.56

SPCH 3411

(2 papers)

4.25

4.25

4.25

4.00

4.25

4.20

SPCH 3421

(6 papers)

4.50

4.50

4.33

4.83

4.33

4. 50

                                                                        Overall= 4.42

Recommendations

For program adjustments in this area, there still are three recommendations:

(1)  A college writing for “research paper” class is required to all majors. (This is a response to “Citing Sources” and “Paraphrasing.”)

(2)  For SPCH 3401 (as the first upper-level communication studies and core course taken by most new majors), the alert system must be monitored, while the criteria for accepting the new majors should be considered (e.g., a “B” in SPCH 2101 and a G.P.A of 2.5 in their first college year or 30 credit hours).

(3)  Be sure that the majors keep their works and submit them when this assessment is administered.

 

Remarks

(1)  Because the basic knowledge in research methods was introduced in fall 2003, the assessment on this was administered in all three courses. Students in SPCH 3401 and SPCH 3411 were introduced to research methodology. In general, the students’ performance has been improved this year (2006—4.42 Vs. 2005—4.35).

(2)  For SPCH 3401, eight papers were assessed. This course generally is the first upper-level communication studies core course most majors take; therefore, they struggle hard for adjustment. When compared with last year (2005), students in this year (2006) class showed better performance (2006—4.56 Vs. 2005—4.28).

(3)  For SPCH 3411, only two papers were assessed. At this point, the basic knowledge in research methods was introduced and more sources (for concepts/theories) were provided. However, in this year (2006), they may not represent the actual course performance of the class of 2006, while the performance has very slightly dropped because the students did not know how to apply the new knowledge in research methods to their works (2006—4.20 Vs. 2005—4.27).

(4)  For SPCH 3421, six of seven submitted papers were assessed, because of the different nature of the seventh one. This year (20065) reflected the same performance as last year (2005) (2006—4.50 Vs. 2005—4.50) . 

 

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