UMM American Indian Studies

Assessment Update of Student Learning for 2008-09



The American Indian Studies discipline was in its first year in 2007-08; consequently, we are in the process of building its practice and history of assessment. The discipline did articulate specific goals while developing the major, and several changes have already been made and are outlined below. While our proposed changes are not based on formal assessment measures, they are the result of a thoughtful assessment of the major by the primary faculty members: Julie Pelletier, Becca Gercken, and Bert Ahern.


Program Design Summary Statement:

The American Indian Studies major and minor have a particular focus on American Indian policy. A strong foundation in Indian policy provides critical analytical context for understanding Indian and Western histories, cultures, and literatures, while preparing students for successful careers and postgraduate education. Another aspect of the American Indian Studies program design focuses on the diversity of American Indian cultures, both in comparison with one another and as representative of the indigenous/colonizer relationship.


Learning Goals for Majors:

The American Indian Studies major and minor are designed to introduce students to a range of information about American Indian cultures. Students learn about American Indians' histories, cultures, and policies, literature, and other creative endeavors through courses that encourage critical thinking and the synthesis and communication of ideas. Students will use diverse methodologies and critical paradigms to reach this understanding.


Assessment Measures:

In 2008-09, the chief assessment tool within the AmInSt major was the capstone experience. The capstone requirement may be met by taking AmIn 4901 or, with discipline consent, by completing a senior tutorial or seminar in English, History, or another discipline. In future, we will begin assessment with the introductory survey course: AmIn 1101 Introduction to American Indian Studies. A valuable form of informal assessment took place in the Spring 2009 semester when AmInSt faculty met with students in the major for a brainstorming session; this session was also attended by Brenda Boever, Advising, and Tom McRoberts, Continuing Education.  While the current student population transitions through the change from an Area of Concentration/Emphasis to the formal major and minor, we have been flexible with making an exemption for juniors and seniors who may not have had an opportunity to take AmIn 1101. However, the course is offered every year and we will be instituting a measurement tool in that course beginning 2009-10. Implementing assessment techniques that include qualitative and quantitative measures will enhance our discipline assessment. We will continue to rely significantly on the classroom-level of assessment in which qualified instructors test and evaluate student understanding and mastery of relevant course material. The AmInSt faculty is continuing to develop a formal and complete assessment plan.


Since AmInSt is an interdisciplinary major, several courses that majors take are housed in other disciplines and are thus assessed within those disciplines.


Examples of Changes

[Based on Informal Assessment of Major through May 2009]

          The American Indian Studies minor has been approved and added to our offerings.

          The website is undergoing regular updates to changes already noted and to meet new UMM requirements and recommendations for an improved and consistent web presence.


Plans for Changes

          A measurement tool in the form of a pretest and posttest will be instituted in AmIn 1101 in 2009-2010.

          AmInSt faculty will gather additional assessment data in the form of senior papers written to meet the capstone requirement.

          AmInSt faculty will meet annually in the Spring to compile, analyze, and respond to assessment data.


Recommendations for Improving Assessment Processes:

          Break down the objectives for the major into specific and measurable learning goals and course goals.

          Place these learning goals on the discipline website.

          Develop a formal assessment plan for the major that clearly delineates how courses within the major meet the learning goals for the major.

          Conduct yearly assessment meetings to discuss the major.