English B.A. Assessment Plan

Mission Statement

The Department of English prepares English majors and minors to read critically, think analytically, research thoughtfully, and write well in a variety of contexts. It also introduces them to major literary movements, current concepts of language and its acquisition, and theories of composition and criticism. Students completing our degree program will have a general command of the discipline and the skills necessary to the discipline. After graduation, they will use these critical skills both within the discipline of English as teachers, editors, writers, and researchers, and in other related professional fields. The English Department has three "foundation" courses (required of all majors and most minors before the 400-level courses). These are:

  • ENG 281: Introduction to Language or
    ENG 282: Introduction to Language and Literary Expression
  • ENG 298: Writing About Literature
  • ENG 303: Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism (prereq. ENG 298)

These classes prepare students for 400-level course work and allow instructors to address the goals of each course in complementary ways.

  • ENG 281: A more technical introduction to historical and contemporary issues in linguistics, and the systems, dialects, and underlying structures of English and other languages, with attention to the social and political implications of language issues.
  • ENG 282: A more general introduction to many of the same language issues covered in ENG 281, especially as they relate to oral and written English, and English language acquisition by children and speakers of other languages.
  • ENG 298: A rigorous introduction to literary study with special emphasis on developing essays on literary topics. Research methods, literary terminology, and the study of particular questions related to literary genres (fiction, poetry, drama, nonfiction). Designed for English majors and minors, and English-emphasis major/minors in secondary education.

ENG 303: Builds on its prerequisite, ENG 298, to organize literary analysis with critical theory past and present, including issues of race, class and canon formation. Furthers the work in ENG 298 with detailed attention to writing, research and documentation. A prerequisite for upper-division courses in English.

Program Outcomes

1. Once students have successfully completed the foundation courses, the remaining courses in the student's undergraduate program will build on, refine, and expand the outcomes listed below.

Student Performance Indicators

  • Using information available in CAIS, courses being taken by graduating seniors will be identified and a substantial essay assignment written by the student(s) will be provided by faculty teaching these courses.

Assessment Method

  • Essay assignments gathered from faculty teaching seniors about to graduate will be stripped of identifying marks and evaluated by a subcommittee of the department's Undergraduate Committee.
  • The language committee will be carrying out assessment of 281 this academic year. I am assuming the following: 1) No names will appear on the pretests. Lorena and I will simply mark them for the section number of the course.2) All people on the language committee will look at all the pretests except that Lorena and I will not mark those of our own section.3) Lorena and I will mark each section's pretests first before Dennis and Valerie look at the pretests and add their own comments, all this semester.4) Post-tests that the committee will examine will consist of a random selection of 50% (assuming an enrollment of 30 undergraduates) of each section's (Don's and Lorena's) exams during the semester, not graded and with names of students concealed. (After arranging each exam alphabetically according to student's last name, Lorena and I will select the following random numbered student test from each exam that we give (assuming three exams: if Lorena give more than three exams, I can generate as many random series as needed: 1 2 3 8 10 11 15 16 19 20 21 25 26 28 29 (First exam)1 3 6 7 10 11 12 14 19 20 22 24 25 29 30 (Second exam)1 2 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 15 17 19 21 22 26 (Third exam) 5) The committee will grade these posttests in spring 2014 (in the same manner as the pretest grading) and discuss and report our findings to Bill.6) I am assuming that we do not have to obtain student permission to circulate the students' pretests or posttests among the committee. Their identities will be concealed.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Students will be able:

  • To demonstrate the nature, definitions(s), and function of language
  • To recall the history, development, and properties of English
  • To explain grammar and usage
  • To describe how language functions in society to shape our ideas, beliefs, and thinking
Student Performance Indicators
  • Entry and exit-level examination for ENG 281.
  • Entry and exit examination for ENG 282.
Assessment Method
  • Entry and exit-level examinations from the 2008 fall semester section of English 281 will be stripped of ID and evaluated by members of the department's Language Committee.
  • Random subset of exams to be read by committee of language faculty.

2. Students will be able:

  • To recall specific literary genres (e.g., poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction) and historical periods (e.g. Early Modern, Romanticism, Realism)
  • To employ literary terminology appropriate to the study of various genres
  • To write literary analyses and critical arguments based on close reading, using academic citation forms when appropriate
  • To demonstrate the relationships between authors, texts, and readers
  • To utilize electronic and traditional resources for research and literary study
Student Performance Indicators
  • Instructors teaching English 298: Writing About Literature will administer a single common writing assignment near the end of the semester designed to assess a subset of the above SLOs.
Assessment Method
  • Collect unmarked copies of assignment from instructor. Department-level committee to evaluate randomly-selected sample, using student performance indicators as rubric.

3. Students will be able:

  • To develop skills in critical thinking and writing about literature
  • To recall a range of critical theories about literature and the various approaches (e.g., Marxist, feminist, formalist, postcolonial) by which it can be analyzed
  • To apply contemporary theory and criticism to texts
  • To demonstrate the importance of culture, race, gender, and class in literary analysis
  • To relate the concept of canon formation
Student Performance Indicators
  • Instructors teaching English 303 will collaborate on the design of a single specific writing assignment designed to assess a subset of the above SLOs.
Assessment Method
  • Collect unmarked copies of assignment from instructors. Department-level committee to evaluate randomly selected sample, using student performance indicators as rubric.

4. Student Learning Outcomes by Sub-Plan:
Students will be able:

  • To analyze the development of different genres from the medieval period to the present and explain their distinctive features.
  • To write lucid, well-constructed arguments analyzing and interpreting texts.
  • To analyze a literary work in its cultural and historical contexts.
  • To articulate the premises and assumptions of different critical approaches and apply them to literature texts using literary-critical vocabulary effectively.
  • To demonstrate the relevance of linguistic principles and the history of language to the study of literature.

Students will be able:

  • To draft documents that demonstrate clear purpose, responsibility to audience, and adherence to generic and stylistic conventions.
  • To reflect on their own writing and apply alternative strategies to the continued development of that process.
  • To identify and evaluate an author's purpose and choice of audience, genre, and strategies of support.
  • To demonstrate knowledge of the variety of professional situations in which they will be writing when they leave the undergraduate program.

Language and Linguistics
Students will be able:

  • To demonstrate (In all courses) by clear writing and discussion an understanding of the core areas of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics.
  • To demonstrate by formula analysis and writing the detailed interactions of phonetics and phonology as they are manifested in English and other typologically organized phonetic and phonological systems.
  • To demonstrate by tree analysis, phrase structure rule analysis, transformational analysis and writing a detailed understanding of the principles and parameters approach to syntactic description and explanatory theory as these apply to at least SVO, SOV, and VSO languages.
  • To demonstrate in speech and through writing a firm grasp of the impact of cultural and historical events on the development of the language; and demonstrate through linguistic analytical methods and writing a detailed understanding of phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic and orthographic changes in the major periods of the history of the English language.
  • To demonstrate understanding of the major components of the methods and fieldwork techniques commonly used in linguistic research; articulate through data analysis and writing the interaction of language and society as theorized in sociolinguistics, gender studies and discourse analysis.