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Assessment Period:  August 2015-July 2016

Intended Educational Outcome:  Students will demonstrate the ability to write effectively.

First means of assessment:  Sociology majors must complete Sociology 365 – “Contemporary Sociological Theory” with a minimum grade of C-.  There were two different types of writing assignments that assessed students’ ability to write effectively (defined as the ability to accurately interpret complex and abstract theoretical ideas as well as to apply those ideas to explaining contemporary social issues).  The first writing assignment is a Critical Thought Paper where students work with one specific contemporary theoretical idea.  They define/describe the idea in the author(s) words as well as their own words.  Students then identify and describe a classical theoretical idea to which the contemporary idea can be related.  After explaining the link between the two ideas, students are then required to use the contemporary idea to explain a situation, event, or set of interactions from their own lives.  The second major writing assignment, two Take Home Essays, requires students to select one specific contemporary issue that they then explain by constructing their own theory using three different contemporary ideas.  Both types of assignments were evaluated using a grading rubric that assessed two aspects of their writing ability – the accuracy and completeness of the content as well as the quality of their writing. 

There were two types of assessment conducted for this report.  The first assessment consisted of reviewing the average grade students received on each type of assignment.  A total of four Critical Thought Papers per student were evaluated and two Take Home Essays.  The second assessment consisted of the degree to which students’ grades improved over the course of the semester.

What were your criteria for success for this outcome?:  Given the difficult and advanced nature of both writing assignments, the expectation was that no more than 10% of students would earn an “A” on the assignments, that 40% of students would earn a “B”, that 40% of students would earn a “C”, and that 10% of students would earn a “D” or “E”.   In other words, we expect that 90% of students would earn a “C” or above thus fulfilling departmental expectations for majors.

Equally important, it was expected that the majority (over 80%) of students writing effectiveness would improve over the course of the semester based on feedback from the instructor. 

Please summarize the assessment data you collected for this outcome:  Dr. Eisenberg taught Socl 365 during the Fall 2015 semester in which 26 students enrolled.  One student attended class only three times during the semester so her grades were not included as part of this assessment.  A total of four Critical Thought Papers per student and two Take Home Essays per student were reviewed for this assessment.

The first assessment consisted of examining the average grade students received on each of the two types of assignments – the shorter, worksheet format of the Critical Thought Papers and the long essay format of the Take Home Essays. Presented below is a summary of the average grade students received for each assignment with the percentage noted in parentheses:

 Critical Thought Papers                                       Take Home Essays

A = 9        (36%)                                                       A =   3 (12%)

B = 10      (40%)                                                       B = 13 (52%)

C = 2        (8%)                                                         C =  4 (16%)

D = 0                                                                         D =  2 (8%)

E = 4       (16%)                                                        E =   3 (12%)

As can be seen above, 83% of students met or exceeded departmental expectations for the shorter Critical Thought Papers and 80% of students met or exceeded departmental expectations for the longer Take Home Essays.  

However – it is worth noting that given the small number of students in the class it takes only 3 or 4 students to skew the findings and that the average grade received on each type of assignment does not reflect whether students’ writing (and, thus, their grades) improved over the course of the semester.  On the Critical Thought Papers 16 (61%) of the students’ grades improved from the first worksheet submitted to the last one.  More impressive, is that 19 (80%) of students grades improved on the much more difficult Take Home Essay.

Did you have a second means of assessment for this outcome?  No

Have you made, or are you considering, any program changes in light of results from your previous round of assessments?  No

Do you plan, or are you considering, any program changes in light of results from your previous round of assessments?  No.

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