Student Achievement Assessment Committee
Current Learning Outcomes
• Students develop skills to articulate their ideas (within the context of a piece of original music).
• Students are able to relate their work to larger historical, formal, stylistic, cultural, and/or aesthetic contexts.
• Students are able to identify strengths and weaknesses in their writing.
• Students can incorporate new ideas into their writing and can synthesize them into an original statement.
• Students are able to clearly articulate their ideas to performers and audiences in a professional manner.
• Students are able to articulate the ideas in their music (to other colleagues) in a clear and detailed manner.
• Students are able to listen to and speak critically of a piece of (contemporary) music (in addition to their own music). They should also be able to relate the salient aspects of a particular work to larger historical, formal, stylistic, cultural, and/or aesthetic contexts.
Learning Outcomes Assessed this Year
The undergraduate and graduate composition majors work closely with their composition teacher in a weekly private lesson setting. While all of the “learning outcomes” are constantly evaluated in this setting, particular attention is given to aspects of competence and in particular, creativity. The composition area has continued to focus on assessing the communication and critical thinking/listening outcomes in the procedures described below.
Assessment Methods and Procedures
Assessment methods and procedures are based on the constant assessment of our approximately 25 composition majors (3-5 of these are undergrads) through individual contact hours (e.g., private lessons, seminars, etc.). Through private instruction, the faculty member assesses the student’s learning outcomes with a number of devices such as the development of tools that will help the individual student to articulate compositional ideas, the study of works related to the student’s own creative/stylistic development, guidance and mentoring on a variety of topics related to each student’s compositional/musical growth.
Since filing the “2004 assessment report” the composition area has continued to adhere to the above stated core learning outcomes. The current measures in place for faculty assessment of these student-learning outcomes (as stated in the previous report) are:
• Weekly Lessons
• Student Composers' Forums and Other Public Performance Venues
• Semester Juries
• Senior Recital (undergraduate capstone experience)
• Graduate literature presentation (added in the Fall of 2003)
This year we have continued to proactively enforce listening policies in our private instruction. This has been difficult because it is not centralized and it takes valuable time away from working with the students directly on their music. We have also continued to address knowledge of contemporary music literature through mandatory research presentations for graduate students (this must be completed by each student before graduating).
The following guidelines have been used during the current academic year concerning the graduate research presentation:
• Each student will pick a topic (preferably a work since 1945 that is considered “standard” composition repertoire) to be approved by their composition professor. The presentation will take place during a composition seminar (i.e., a meeting of the entire composition student body) at a prearranged time.
• The presentation will last 20-25 minutes with an additional 5 minutes for questions from the students and faculty.
• Audio/Visual examples and handouts will be used to illustrate the main points of the presentation.
• The presentation should address the salient points of the topic in an articulate manner. Additionally, the student should convey that s/he understands the detailed issues of the topic and the composer’s stylistic traits (these should be evident in the examples).
Inferences from Assessments
In assessing the effect of the “research presentation” on the communication and critical thinking/listening outcomes, the composition area is in unanimous agreement that this process is helping to make the students more proactive in taking responsibility for knowing the current and historical issues in their field and being able to articulate these issues to students and colleagues.
Actions Taken/Program Improvements
All Majors (Undergraduate and Graduate)
Entering Undergraduate Majors
In an effort to improve our quality and quantity of undergraduate composition majors, we have changed the format of MuCT 116 (fundamentals of composition). In the past, “pre-majors” where put in this course with non-majors where they would learn the general techniques of contemporary composition. For contextual reasons, we felt the need to implement a separate meeting (with a composition faculty member) of the pre-composition majors (there are 4 this year). This method seems to have worked quite well in that each student is more integrated into a discourse with the faculty and their fellow majors and we were able to address important issues in a more efficient manner. In the fall semester a single faculty member taught the students for the entire semester (Marilyn Shrude). In the spring semester, all four faculty members directed the students for a period of 3 to four weeks.
We will be able to fully assess this new implementation as the students matriculate into the major program.
Research Presentations (Graduate)
These have continued to be very fruitful and informative for the students as well as the faculty.