The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh requires each major program to perform an assessment in order to clarify its assessment outcomes, to set standards, and to evaluate its performance. Because reading, writing, and research are at the core of the English Department’s assessment outcomes, we collect and annually review examples of students’ formal written work. We also collect online exit survey responses from students who have completed the requirements for the English major because we value students’ input about their experiences in the program.
Beyond its value to the continued development of the department, the written portfolio has a purpose and value for students. The portfolio provides students the means to reflect on their own work during their career in the English Department. Instructors in the Department of English deliver content (authors, periods, genres), but also believe in fostering the growth of literate, educated citizens. Because reading and writing are frequently self-directed activities, students are encouraged to critically examine the ways they have grown as individuals during the tenure of their study. Students often are aware that they can be challenged by instructors’ expectations and course content, but they are less frequently asked how they challenge themselves. Reflection helps students consider this key component of their intellectual growth. A portfolio of written work also can serve as the basis for a professional career. In fact, some graduates report that they have used the portfolio in preparing for job interviews.
Students complete the online exit survey during the semester in which they are enrolled in English 481. Students’ feedback on this survey, in conjunction with the written portfolio, represents a thoughtful, satisfying synthesis of students’ experience as UW Oshkosh English majors. In addition, survey responses contain valuable information to help improve the English program.
Individual students and instructors are not evaluated during the process of assessing the English major in either the online exit survey or the written portfolio. Participating in the English major assessment does not carry a letter grade, influence scholarship decisions, or affect graduation, though most English 481 instructors do give course credit for completing the portfolio. Professors do not receive contract renewal or tenure based on students’ work in the portfolio. Rather, preparing a portfolio of significant writing assignments and taking part in the online exit survey allow students to track and guide their own progress through the English major. These steps also inform the decision-making process of the English department faculty by providing important insights about courses, programs (such as study abroad), and activities (such as English Club).
+Assessment of the English Major: Overview+