Form E-1-A for Boston College Undergraduate Programs

Form E-1-A for Boston College Undergraduate Programs
1) Have formal learning outcomes been developed? What are they? (What specific sets of skills and
knowledge does the department expect its majors to have acquired before they graduate?)
It is the goal of the Communication Department that students majoring in Communication develop
the following skills:
1. Graduates will understand the major theories in the areas of Interpersonal Communication,
Rhetorical Studies and Media Studies.
2. Graduates will understand the research skills necessary for their area of study.
3. Graduates will have the skill necessary to organize and write a coherent paper examining a
current theoretical topic in communication.
4. Graduates will have the skills to analyze and articulate logical arguments.
5. Graduates will have the ability to express themselves effectively both verbally and in writing.
6. Graduates will understand the ethical issues inherent in sending and receiving messages.
7. Graduates will have an in-depth understanding of the ideas and methods of one of the three
major subfields in Communication.
2) Where are these learning outcomes published? Be specific. (Where are the department’s learning
expectations accessible to potential majors: on the web or in the catalog or in your department’s
major handouts?)
3) Other than GPA, what data/evidence is used to determine whether graduates have achieved the
stated outcomes for the degree? (What evidence and analytical approaches do you use to assess
which of the student learning outcomes are being achieved more or less well?)
Three faculty members evaluated sixteen papers from one writing intensive class taught during the
spring 2012 semester on a five-point scale covering seven points of review. All identifying
information was deleted and numbers were randomly assigned to each paper.
Each reviewer returned the forms to a member of the assessment committee, and the scores were
evaluated. In addition, graduating students were sent a questionnaire in May 2012. Seventy-two of
the 276 senior majors replied to the questionnaire.
Changes for the 2013 assessment: Papers from each writing intensive course will be randomly
selected for evaluation. In addition, videotapes of speeches from three public speaking classes will
be randomly selected in order to evaluate oral communication skills.
4) Who interprets the evidence? What is the process? (Who in the department is responsible for
interpreting the data and making recommendations for curriculum or assignment changes if
appropriate? When does this occur?)
Departmental Assessment Committee.
5) What changes have been made as a result of using the data/evidence? (Have there been any
recent changes to your curriculum or program? Why were they made?)
The results of the written papers indicated that students were strongest in the logical development
of ideas and in supporting their opinions with adequate evidence. Students’ weakest points were
clear and well-planned organization, appropriately citing sources and following an accepted style
Of those responding to the senior survey, the majority of students were classified as majoring in
media studies. The remaining students were equally divided between interpersonal studies and
rhetorical studies. Most of the students will be working next but some are continuing to seek
employment. The majority of jobs are found in the business communication areas including
marketing, insurance underwriting and trading analyst. Ten students will be employed in public
relations and advertising. Other types of employment include journalism teaching, coaching,
paralegal work and human resources. A smaller number of students will be attending law school or
graduate school and some students indicated that they would be applying for both law and
graduate school during the upcoming year.
The majority of seniors agreed that the overall communication courses - as well as the elective
courses - in which they were enrolled - prepared them for their future plans. Fewer students
responded “strongly agree” or “neutral” to the same question while no students “strongly
Graduating students believed that of the four required departmental courses, Public Speaking was
the most appropriate for the major followed by Rhetorical Tradition, Survey of Mass
Communication and Research Methods.
The students were asked to suggest additional courses that they would have taken. Those who
answered the question suggested the addition of advanced journalism, relational, broadcasting and
advertising classes as well as event planning, advanced public speaking, and visual communication.
Seven of 32 students who suggested advertising, journalism and public relations classes are added
to the available classes also indicated their disapproval of the recent removal of these courses from
the communication major.
6) What evidence do you have that the changes have resulted in improved learning outcomes?
The Research Methods class has been divided into two separate types of classes: one class is
primarily concerned with quantitative research while a second course deals with qualitative data.
Students will now be able to enroll in the type of class that will match the requirements of their
chosen area of study.
Because most freshmen majors in Communication were expected to complete two classes that
enroll over 180 students a class, for the Fall Semester of 2011 the department dedicated one Public
Speaking class as a freshmen only class. This allowed freshman to enroll in a class with fewer
students in order to devote attention to skills required in writing intensive classes including
organizational skills, use of evidence and source citation work.
Many of the required cluster courses were relisted as elective classes in order to require
Interpersonal Communication for all majors beginning with the class of 2015. The change was made
in order balance the three major areas of communication and to ensure that the students will be
well grounded in this field of communication.
In order to widen the breath of courses available to students, new elective courses have been added
to the available courses in the department including Rhetorical Criticism, New Media and Society,
Communication Stress and Coping, Media Aesthetics, Mass Communication Ethics and Principles of
Changes as of Fall Semester 2013:
It is clear that professors cannot assume that students understand the basics of writing. Beginning
Fall Semester of 2012, those teaching writing intensive classes will dedicate class time to
explanation of the requirements of proper source citations. Those teaching Public Speaking will
dedicate class time on works cited pages as well as supporting opinions and ideas in the speech with
adequate evidence and developing a clear organizational pattern for their speeches. It is the goal of
the department to include more freshmen only Public Speaking classes in order to begin this
process at the beginning of their work as Communication majors.
7) Date of the most recent program review. (Your latest comprehensive departmental self-study and
external review.)