Major Assessments 

Sewanee assesses student learning outcomes in its major fields of study in order to identify expected student learning goals that academic majors struggle to master so that thought and resources can be focused to help improve student achievement of these goals. Departments are required to submit annual reports of their assessment activities.

This assessment program is designed solely for use by the faculty, departments, and programs that contribute to an academic major program and is neither intended, nor would it be appropriate, for groups or individuals other than the faculty and departments that generated this data to use this information for any purpose other than to assist faculty or departments in improving student learning when they request such assistance.

There are five parts to the assessment procedure and report:

  1. Learning Objectives for the Major: State (list) the learning objectives for the program of study. These should also appear in the public information generated by the department (e.g., the official web page and on-line Catalog text).
  2. Assessment Tools: Determine (and describe in the report) the exercise(s) that you use to measure student achievement with respect to each objective. These tools may include the comprehensive exam but are not necessarily limited to the comprehensive.
  3. Assessment Results: Collect data on each of your assessment tools using a scale that allows for helpful differentiation, e.g. "exceeded expectations, met expectations satisfactorily, developing but unsatisfactory, unsatisfactory." Using grading scale may be appropriate, but be mindful that the standard for achievement is "met expectations."
  4. Discussion / Analysis: As a department, reflect upon the data; commentary can be augmented, as appropriate, by anecdotal, interview, or survey responses. What are points of success--and why? What are points for development--and why?
  5. Steps taken to improve student learning: As a department, identify concrete steps you will take to improve student learning (the educational experience), as informed by the discussion and analysis, with a sense of the intended outcome. Modifications need not be sweeping (e.g., revising the curriculum or introducing a new course); focused and particular revisions are acceptable too (e.g., "modified the senior seminar to include sessions with research librarians" or "updated the required 3xx course to include additional instruction in [key concept, theory]" or "revised the GMWI course to introduce clearer scaffolding for the writing process, with additional drafts and revision"). The changes need to tie to student learning and be implemented in a way that assures all majors will benefit, thus attention to what courses, or range of courses, are required for the major.

Departments should be prepared to offer documentation of changes, for example with revised syllabi and/or changes to the Catalog. Minutes from departmental meetings can also document the assessment process. This reporting process ultimately reflects the department's commitment to improving student learning through ongoing and honest self-review.

Assessment reports for each major are due once a year, on May 31.