Graduate Student Outcomes Assessment Plan

I. Program Philosophy of Student Outcomes Assessment

The Assessment Plan for students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies is based on the primary purpose of generating information which will be useful in enhancing student learning and program review and development.  For this end, the graduate faculty in Women's and Gender Studies have updated both the program’s strategic plan and graduate student outcomes assessment plan.  In the outcomes assessment plan we set forth three outcomes for student learning. 

Through core courses and selected electives, students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies will seek to address three program goals.  First, they will comprehend, analyze, and evaluate intersectional identity, global awareness, and social inequality.  They will have a sophisticated grasp of women’s and gender studies as an interdisciplinary field of study.  Second, they will understand and apply women’s and gender studies methods and theories.  They will demonstrate facility in identifying challenges to and critical revisions on feminist theories in light of the broad array of tools used to analyze the social and historical construction of gender.  Third, students will be prepared, as a consequence of their successful engagement with program goals, to contribute to women's and gender studies through creative and constructive research.  In demonstrating their proficiency in research, students will make use of oral and written skills in communication appropriate to graduates of a select master of art’s program. 

The Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies is a thesis-only program of study.  Its curriculum is designed to meet the needs of students who strive for analytic clarity and rigor in gender-focused research.  The Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies combines a set of core requirements with a large set of electives.  There is a high degree of flexibility in the selection of courses for students.  As a consequence of this variation and due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program, we have selected student portfolios and surveys as our main methods of assessment.  Our Assessment Plan incorporates student outcomes and assessment methods which will tell us most directly the extent to which our curriculum and program structures are successfully meeting the three goals stated above.   

Information sources for the outcomes assessment include comprehensive exams, theses, graduate syllabus for graduate seminar, rubric for direct assessment of comprehensive exams and theses, survey for indirect assessment. 

The Women’s and Gender Studies committee on strategic planning and student outcomes assessment will meet and update assessment plan every other year.

II. Goals and Outcomes

Goal 1:  To enable students to comprehend, analyze, and evaluate intersectional identity, global awareness, and social inequality.  Students will: 

Outcome 1.1 Identify, analyze, and interpret intersections between sex, gender, sexuality, race, class, religion, ethnicity, age, physical and metal ability and nationality, both locally and globally, both in the present and in the past.

Outcome 1.2 Describe, examine, and evaluate strategies available for studying with, learning about, and writing about persons of diverse cultures in ways that do not distort, exploit, or colonize. 

Outcome 1.3  Comprehend and analyze the many facets of social inequality.   

Goal 2:  To enable students to comprehend, apply, and evaluate feminist theories and methods appropriate to the study of women and gender. Students will: 

Outcome 2.1 Comprehend, apply, and evaluate several feminist theories appropriate to the study of women and gender.

Outcome 2.2  List and discuss the historical precedents and contemporary applications of a variety of feminist theories.

Outcome 2.3  Apply several theoretical frameworks to substantive areas of concern to the student and the academic discipline.

Outcome 2.4 Demonstrate graduate-level proficiency in selecting and using research methods and theory appropriate for production of a thesis, including proficiencies in the most current electronic technologies of research. 

Goal 3:  To enable students to possess the capability to produce orally and in written form according to the standards appropriate to education at the graduate level. Students will: 

Outcome 3.1 Offer oral presentations at regular points throughout the course of graduate study (in the graduate seminar, prospectus presentation, thesis presentation) which demonstrate increasingly sophisticated skills in oral communication.

Outcome 3.2 Compose written essays throughout the course of graduate study and author a thesis that conforms to nationally recognized standards for scholarly production and publication at the graduate level.  

Goal 4:  To enable students to assess links between academic inquiry and civic engagement. Students will: 

Outcome 4.1 Discuss the relationship between feminism, feminist theory and modes of civic engagement.

III. Frequency of Assessments 

Assessments will occur at seven times for all students:  at entrance into the program, on the completion of the required first-year core seminar (Graduate Seminar in Women's & Gender Studies:  Comparative Feminist Theories [first semester], and Graduate Seminar in Women's & Gender Studies:  Library Research Methods [second semester]), on the completion of the Comprehensive Exams (Feminist Theory and Area of Emphasis), on the occasion of the thesis prospectus and its presentation,  on completion of the required thesis and its successful defense, two years beyond graduation, and six years beyond graduation.  Students receiving graduate assistantships will have additional assessments based on the formal evaluation of their assistantship experience.  

IV. Methods of Assessment 

Assessment methods for the graduate program in Women’s and Gender Studies will be both direct and indirect.  The primary mechanism of conducting assessments is a student portfolio.  On entrance into the program, a portfolio for each student will be prepared by the Director of Women's and Gender Studies.  The Director will maintain the portfolio throughout the duration of the student's tenure at UNI and will undertake the two-year and five-year follow-ups.  The portfolio will function as a comprehensive and cumulative course of learning for each student and as a baseline from which to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the Master of Arts in the Women's and Gender Studies program. 

  1. Direct Methods of Assessment. 
    1. At entrance into the program:
      1. Official transcript.
      2. Writing sample.
      3. Statement of purpose.
      4. Letters of recommendation.
    2. To be added on completion of the core seminar:
      1. Final essay in the Graduate Seminar in Women's Studies:  Comparative Feminist Theories.
    3. To be added on completion of the comprehensive exams:
      1. Copies of the comprehensive exams in feminist theory.
    4. To be added on the completion and presentation of the thesis prospectus:
      1. Copy of the thesis prospectus.
    5. To be added on completion of the thesis and its defense:
      1. Copy of the thesis.
      2. Copy of exit statement of self-assessment by student of progress with respect to program outcomes and competencies. 
  2. Indirect Methods of Assessment. 
    1. To be added on the occasion of the 2-year follow-up:
      1. Copy of student's responses to 2-year follow-up survey with respect to program outcomes and competencies.
    2. To be added on the occasion of the 6-year follow-up:
      1. Copy of student's responses to 6-year follow-up survey with respect to program outcomes and competencies. 
  3. Additional Direct Assessment of Graduate Assistants: 
    1. To be added each semester of the assistantship:
      1. Supervisor's evaluation of student's performance in the graduate assistantship function. 

V. Analysis, Interpretation, and Reporting of Results 

The Director of Women's and Gender Studies is responsible for initiating the student portfolio process described in Section IV.  The portfolio will be maintained in the program's office. 

The Director will monitor each student's portfolio and work with each student to add required materials in a timely manner.  Two formal assessment meetings between the Director and the student will be conducted.  The first will occur at the conclusion of the core seminar required of all first-year students (at this meeting the Director also consults with the student regarding her/his Program Approval Form).  The second will be a pre-graduation interview.  At each of these meetings the Director and the student will evaluate and reflect on the success with which assessment competencies have been acquired and outcomes achieved. 

The Graduate Committee in Women's and Gender Studies will review each student's portfolio on the occasion of the awarding of the Master of Arts degree.  The Graduate committee will also review all portfolios at regular intervals in preparation for academic program review.  The committee will prepare and use rubrics to evaluate how students in the aggregate are achieving program goals and outcomes.  The committee will prepare reports which summarize the extent to which each competency and outcome is being and has been realized.  It will recommend changes, as necessary, in the assessment plan and in the curriculum for the Master of Arts in Women's and Gender Studies.  Reports will be used to prepare five-year program reviews and strategic planning updates for the Women's and Gender Studies Program.  Assessment reports will be forwarded to appropriate university officials.