English Discipline, UMM

Assessment of Student Learning for 2008-09



The English discipline is in the midst of revising its curriculum and developing a comprehensive assessment plan.  We have begun implementing this plan by focusing our 2008-09 assessment on the English major’s bookend courses: Introduction to Literature (Engl 1131) and the 4000-level Research Seminar.


Learning Goals for Majors

Note: These goals have been revised since the 2007-08 Assessment Report.

Upon successfully completing their English degree at UMM, English majors should be able to do the following:

(1)  Read and discuss in an analytical fashion both primary and secondary texts

(2)  Write a coherent argument, both with and without secondary sources

(3)  Demonstrate a sophisticated understanding of the English language

(4)  Demonstrate basic knowledge of critical approaches to literary study

(5)  Demonstrate basic knowledge of literary history

(6)  Conduct basic scholarly research and present it in a professional, scholarly setting

(7)  Demonstrate a solid foundation for a lifelong appreciation of literature


These goals will be placed on the discipline website [http://www.morris.umn.edu/academic/english/] in order to be readily available to current students, prospective students, and faculty.  We will also make sure that they are included in future revisions of the catalogue.  Finally, individual faculty members have been encouraged to include pertinent goals (or versions of them) on their syllabi.


Assessment Measures:

The attached Assessment Plan explains the English discipline’s comprehensive plan for assessment (as it has been developed so far) and contains a rubric indicating the multiple ways in which each goal and its associated outcomes are measured within individual courses.  This assessment report, however, focuses on programmatic assessment, rather than individual course assessment, since the latter is done by individual faculty members.


For the 2008-09 year, we took a much more multi-pronged approach to assessment of the English discipline than we have done in recent years, combining both direct and indirect assessment measures:


Introduction to Literature:





4000-Level Research Seminars:



Conclusions Based on Bookend Assessment:






Based on all of these measures, we believe that our major is accomplishing our basic goals.  That said, we also believe that structural changes in our major may allow us to do an even better job of meeting the needs of our students, both English majors and non-majors, and that coming to firm conclusions about the precise nature of Engl 1131 will allow us to move forward with this restructuring. 


Examples of Changes Based on Assessment:

Note: Some of these changes were also mentioned in the 2007-08 Assessment Report submitted earlier this spring, since it included changes up to that point.


Recommendations for Improving Assessment Processes:

Š      Continue to develop the Assessment Plan (see attached document), with particular emphasis on General Education courses offered by the English discipline, including College Writing (Engl 1011).

Š      Encourage faculty to get in the habit of saving sample papers for each class, especially Engl 1131 and 4000-level seminars.  We need more sample papers from more faculty members for the most effective assessment of bookend courses.

Š      Label sample papers for assessment purposes “adequate” (rather than “average”) and “above average.”

Š      Continue to encourage faculty to include the pertinent discipline goals that are met by a particular class on course syllabi.

Š      Designate an assessment meeting for the late spring semester (but not the last meeting of the year) and make sure that no other topics are discussed during this meeting.

Š      Continue to increase the return rate of senior exit surveys.  Providing this survey by email (as we did at the very end of the spring semester) may help, as will asking the student representative to send a reminder email to graduating English majors.