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Intended Learning Outcome:

“Students will demonstrate an understanding of the types of social research.”  More specifically, they will:
    -distinguish between exploratory, descriptive, explanatory & evaluation research.
    -distinguish between observational or experimental research
    - be able to identify dependent and independent variables and assess the measurement reliability and validity of these variables.

To graduate, majors must complete Socl 212: Sociological Research.  In the spring semester of 2009, thirty students in Socl 212 took an Assessment Pretest in an electronic format on myCourses.  All students were required to complete the pretest in the first two weeks of the course.

At the end of the semester, as part of their final exam the students “graded” and “corrected” their personal pretest.  The instructor took the first eight questions of the pretest which included identifying the type of research and the relevant variables, if appropriate.  The instructor then assessed this final review.

Every question counted one point and a student was given a 1 if they did better on the final than on the pretest and a zero otherwise.  Since there were eight possible points the number of improvements was divided by eight to give a relative improvement score.

Criteria for success for this outcome

We hoped that the great majority of students’ postest (final) results were an improvement over their pretest results.

Assessment Results

Several students did no better on the final than on the pre test.  This occurred among weak students who failed to improve and among strong students who got everything right on the pretest.  Some students in Socl 212 have previously taken Psyc 252 or Plsc 251, which have significant overlap with Socl 212.  These students did not do much better on the final than on the pretest.

Eight students had less than 0.1 improvement and nine students hand an improvement rate between 0.30 and 0.39, while five students had improvement of 0.50 or more.  The average for all thirty students was 0.258, roughly a 25% improvement.

When students are arranged by course grade there is a clear pattern the students with higher grades tended to improve most from the pretest to the final exam.  It is notable that in every grade level there was at least one student who did not do better on the final than on the pretest, a few of the students with B’s and A’s made the most improvement from pretest to final.

Improvement Ratio by Course Grade
Grade    Count    Mean    Min    Max
A    16    0.328    0    0.750
B    10    0.188    0    0.625
C    4      0.156    0    0.375

Discussion

This analysis suggests that, roughly speaking, about 53% of these students are making the kind of progress we want, that 33% are making some progress but not as much as we would like, while the rest, 14% are making only a little progress. Two students in particular made no real progress on these assessment questions and got C’s in the course.
Currently, Prof. Bearden is the only faculty member teaching Socl 212.  He has indicated that he will continue to review and revise his syllabus, assignments, and teaching methods to increase the number of students who make progress in the class.  The department as a whole will also discuss ways in which our assessment results for this learning outcome.

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