2019 Self Study - Part II, Standard 9: Assessment of Learning Outcomes

Executive summary:

In the last three years the department has made significant strides in the area of assessment. In Spring 2017, the department revised its assessment plan. The plan included the introduction of four new assessment tools, which were implemented for the first time in Fall 2018. 

In September 2018, the department produced its first complete assessment report since our last accrediting visit. The report highlighted some areas where the curriculum could be improved.

Based on this report, the department introduced a new requirement that all majors take one of their elective courses from a list of visual communication skills courses. The new requirement went into effect in Fall 2019.

The report also led the department to conduct a year-long review of our curriculum. During the curriculum review the department referred to the assessment report as well as collected additional input from professionals, alumni, and students. As a result of the curriculum review, the department has proposed changing from a B.A. in Communication to a B.S. in Communication, with an increase from 33 to 40 credit hours in COMM. The additional requirements include a 3-hour media and diversity course, a 1-hour technology course, and 3 hours of professional electives. The curriculum proposal is currently working its way through the approval process. The department hopes to implement the new curriculum in Fall 2021.

The department continues to collect assessment data, with the second annual report produced in August 2019.

 

  1. Provide a copy of the unit’s written plan for assessment of student learning outcomes. This plan must include the dates of its adoption and of implementation of its components.

The department’s assessment plan is available at: https://www.utc.edu/communication/docs/assessment-plan.docx

 

  1. Provide the unit’s definition of goals for learning that students must achieve. If this definition is incorporated into the plan for assessment, a page reference will suffice.

During the recent review of the curriculum the department defined five broad curricular aims which map to ACEJMC’s 12 values and competencies:

Tell Different Types of Stories 

Understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information. 

Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve. 

Critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness. 

Apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work. 

Use Research to Solve Problems  

Think critically, creatively and independently. 

Conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work.  

Apply basic numerical and statistical concepts. 

Explore Culture through Media 

Demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications. 

Demonstrate an understanding of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications. 

Demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society. 

Make Legal and Ethical Decisions 

Understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press, for the country in which the institution that invites ACEJMC is located, as well as receive instruction in and understand the range of systems of freedom of expression around the world, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances. 

Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity. 

Gain Professional Experience  

Think critically, creatively and independently. 

 

  1. Describe the collection and reporting of data from both direct and indirect assessment measures and how the unit used its analysis of the data to improve curriculum, instruction, etc. Provide copies of any end-of-year assessment reports. If there are multiple reports from the six-year period, summarize the findings and make the reports available in a separate digital file.

On an annual basis, the department collects and analyzes data from the following assessment measures:

COMM 1010, Introduction to Mass Communication, scores on select multiple-choice test questions (direct)

COMM 3200, Mass Communication Perspectives, scores on select multiple-choice and short answer test questions, short answers graded with a rubric (direct)

COMM 4200, Senior Seminar, research paper evaluated with a rubric (direct)

COMM 4200, Senior Seminar, statistics assignment graded with a rubric (direct)

COMM 4510, Mass Communication Law & Ethics, final exam test scores, short answer test questions graded with a rubric (direct)

COMM 4510, Mass Communication Law & Ethics, ethics project graded with a rubric (direct)

COMM 4850, Internship, interns evaluated by supervisor using a rubric (direct)

COMM 4850, Internship, final portfolio evaluated by professionals using a rubric (direct)

Annual Assessment Reports:

Sept 2019: https://www.utc.edu/communication/docs/assessment-report-2019.docx

Sept 2018: https://www.utc.edu/communication/docs/assessment-report-2018.docx

 In Summer 2018 the department analyzed all of its existing assessment data, some of it dating back to Fall 2004, and created an assessment report, finalized in Sept 2018, summarizing the findings. The report:

identified what assessments measures still needed to be implemented;

identified which assessments targets had been met and which had not, highlighting what values and competency need addressing; and

provided a list of future actions related to assessment.

At the time the report was written, four measures added to the assessment plan in Spring 2017 had not been implemented. These measures were implemented in Fall 2018.

The data demonstrated that students were meeting targets for the following values and competencies:

Demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity. 

Critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness. 

Apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work. 

The data demonstrated that students were not meeting targets for the following value and competency:

Understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information. 

The data demonstrated mixed results for the following values and competencies:

Understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press, for the country in which the institution that invites ACEJMC is located, as well as receive instruction in and understand the range of systems of freedom of expression around the world, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances. 

Demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications. 

Demonstrate an understanding of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and, as appropriate, other forms of diversity in domestic society in relation to mass communications. 

Think critically, creatively and independently. 

Conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work.  

Write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve. 

Because several assessment measures had not been implemented, the report contained no results for the following values and competencies:

Demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of peoples and cultures and of the significance and impact of mass communications in a global society. 

Apply basic numerical and statistical concepts. 

Based on the Sept 2018 assessment report the faculty decided curricular changes were needed. To address the deficiency in visual communication, the department proposed requiring that students take one of their four electives from a list of visual communication skills courses. The change was proposed in October 2018, approved by the Faculty Senate in February 2019, and went into effect with the 2019-2020 undergraduate catalog. 

To address the mixed results, the faculty decided a more in-depth review of the curriculum was needed. An ad hoc curriculum committee was formed in October 2018. The committee spent the 2018-19 academic committee reviewing the department’s current curriculum. During the review the committee:

reviewed assessment data;

surveyed students;

surveyed alumni and professionals;

surveyed faculty;

examined curriculum at peer institutions;

identified curricular aims;

mapped course learning outcomes to ACEJMC values and competencies; and

drafted and revised several curricular models.

Through this process the faculty identified several areas where the curriculum could be improved, including (1) more thoroughly addressing diversity, both domestic and global, (2) requiring students to gain more experience through skills courses, and (3) providing students with options for the second required writing course.

In Fall 2019, the department proposed changing the current B.A. degree to a B.S. degree. The B.S. degree increases required COMM course work from 33 credit hours to 40 credit hours.

The core was expanded from 21 credits to 25 credits, with a 3-credit media and diversity course and a 1 credit communication technology course added to core requirements. Within the core, a change was made to the second writing course. Under the B.A. all majors were required to take Media Writing II. Under the B.S. students can choose to take one of two writing courses: Multimedia Journalism or Public Relations Writing.

The electives were expanded from 12 to 15 hours, with 9 of these credits in professional courses. Students are still required to take one visual communication professional skills course. As part of the new B.S. students are now required to take two additional professional courses, with one of these professional courses at the 4000 level.

The curriculum proposal was approved by the department’s faculty in August 2019 and began working its way through the university’s curriculum approval process. In January 2020, the College of Arts and Sciences’s curriculum committee rejected the B.S. degree proposal. The department has replied to the committee’s concerns and has asked it to review the proposal for a second time. If the college curriculum committee approves the proposal it will continue through the approval process, with several more levels of review.  If it is approved by the University, the B.S. degree program will also need to be approved by the UT Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC). The department is working with UTC’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Institutional Research to seek these approvals. The department hopes to implement the curriculum changes in Fall 2021.

  1. Describe the involvement of journalism and mass communication professionals, including alumni, in the assessment process.

Professionals and alumni are involved in the assessment process at several points.

One major tool used to assess several values and competencies is internship supervisor evaluations. These supervisor evaluations provide faculty with direct assessment data from journalism and mass communication professionals, many of whom are alumni.

Another major tool used to assess several values and competencies is student portfolios. At the end of the internship experience all students are required to turn in a portfolio. These portfolios are evaluated by a panel of journalism and mass communication professionals. These professionals provide direct assessment data.

 

  1. In a digital file, list the major awards won by the unit’s students in local, regional or national competitions in the past six years. Limit to five a year.

 A list of major awards is available at: https://www.utc.edu/communication/docs/student-awards-2013-18.xlsx

 

  1. In a digital file, list by specialty each member of the graduating class of 2015 and those graduates’ current jobs. If practical, give a total number of “unknowns” rather than including them in the list. Describe the program used to track graduates to assess their experience in the profession and to improve curriculum and instruction.

The list of 2015 graduates is available at: https://www.utc.edu/communication/docs/2015-graduates.docx

At the university level alumni are tracked the by Alumni Affairs. In Fall 2019, the department contacted alumni via email, sent through Alumni Affairs, requesting they complete a survey related to the department’s curriculum.

The department also tracks alumni through social media. The department has for years remained in contact with alumni through the department’s Facebook page. More recently the department created Twitter and Instagram accounts. To improve the tracking of professional developments with our alumni the department established a LinkedIn group in Spring 2019.

 


2019 Self-Study