January 15, 2009
Dr. Cindy Speaker
Associate Dean of the College
Dear Dean Speaker:
The psychology major has taken the following actions to update and improve its assessment during the past year:
1. At a meeting in May, 2008, we met to discuss the data gathered from the senior theses and comprehensive exam. The purpose of the meeting was to determine whether any changes needed to be made in our curriculum based on that data. As a result of that meeting, we determined that we needed to provide a means by which all of our students get a better grounding in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. At present, our students are required to take a course in either quantitative or qualitative methods, and this results in a lack of understanding as to the purpose and efficacy of the methodology covered in the course not taken. A verbal (informal) exit interview with seniors who graduated in 2008 reinforced our idea of developing a new, sophomore-level course that would introduce students to both methodologies. Such a course might also cover APA format and career paths for psychology majors. The need for such a course was reinforced again during an informal feedback session with this year’s seniors in December, 2008. We would like to develop the 200-level methods course so that it can be debuted during the 2009 – 10 academic year.
2. We have made changes to our senior comprehensive exam (copy attached).
· Empirical article critique. For the past three years, a portion of the exam required students to provide answers to broad questions about their learning experience in psychology. The questions were too broad to be of any real use in assessing their learning, so we have re-instituted and expanded a portion of the exam that requires students to critique quantitative and qualitative empirical research articles. This change addresses a number of the learning goals, objectives, and outcomes outlined in our assessment plan.
· Senior thesis poster. A thesis poster presentation, which was formerly part of Psy. 403 (Senior Seminar/thesis course), will now become a segment of the Senior Comprehensive Exam. This replaces a portfolio presentation that has been part of the comprehensive exam for the past three years. Prior to that iteration, it was an oral thesis presentation. Moving the thesis poster to the spring semester will provide students with the time necessary to construct a professional presentation. The portfolio presentation was partially redundant with the thesis poster, and the oral presentations were too time consuming given the high enrollment in the psychology major. The poster presentation will allow psychology seniors to share and discuss their work in a public venue. It will also provide them an opportunity to practice the same type of communication skills used by scholars in the dissemination of their work.
· Reflection paper and exit interview. The reflection paper, which was formerly a part of the portfolio presentation, will give students the opportunity to reflect on their psychology careers at Wells. The exit interview, which we will formalize during the spring semester, will provide the graduating seniors with an anonymous opportunity to give feedback on the psychology curriculum and their learning experiences at Wells.
· The Educational Testing Service Major Field Test will remain part of the Senior Comprehensive Exam for this academic year. We will, however, discuss the usefulness of this exam during our assessment meeting in May. It could be that an in-house exam might be of more use in assessing student learning and the efficacy of our program.
We will meet again in May, 2009, to discuss the data obtained from the 2009 capstone experience. We will also discuss any changes made and/or changes we intend to make to our individual courses to address the learning goals, objectives, and outcomes outlined in our assessment plan.
Based on the feedback we received from the Assessment Committee, we have revised and expanded our assessment plan (see second attachment). We look forward to your comments and suggestions on our revisions.
Milene Z. Morfei, Chair