Student Learning Assessment Plan

Introduction

The faculty of the Department of Journalism and Public Relations at Bowling Green State University is committed to assessment procedures that lead to ongoing improvements in curricula, instruction and student learning. This plan is designed to integrate the existing individual assessment activities that have been practiced regularly by the department and to provide a schedule of assessment activities that will be performed on a regular basis. It is also designed to ensure that assessment data will be accessible to all faculty and will be applied on a regular basis to improve curricula, instruction and student learning.

This plan does not preclude other assessment activities that may be carried out less systematically or on an experimental basis. In fact, this assessment plan itself should be subject to continual revision as improved methods of assessment and data-driven changes warrant. Assessment of student learning should be an ongoing process. It is an integral assumption of this plan that assessment activities will evolve in response to new information and a changing environment, just as our teaching activities should change in response to assessment data.

Learning OuTCOMes

Learning outcomes are drawn from the professional values and competencies specified by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC). They specify that graduates should be able to:

  • understand and apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press, including the right to dissent, to monitor and criticize power, and to assemble and petition for redress of grievances;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the history and role of professionals and institutions in shaping communications;
  • demonstrate an understanding of the diversity of groups in a global society in relationship to communications;
  • understand concepts and apply theories in the use and presentation of images and information;
  • demonstrate an understanding of professional ethical principles and work ethically in pursuit of truth, accuracy, fairness and diversity;
  • think critically, creatively and independently;
  • conduct research and evaluate information by methods appropriate to the communications professions in which they work;
  • write correctly and clearly in forms and styles appropriate for the communications professions, audiences and purposes they serve;
  • critically evaluate their own work and that of others for accuracy and fairness, clarity, appropriate style and grammatical correctness;
  • apply basic numerical and statistical concepts;
  • apply tools and technologies appropriate for the communications professions in which they work.

These outcomes are viewed as being compatible with Bowling Green State University’s Learning OuMDIAes, which “are a statement of our common responsibility for shared educational values.” The BGSU outcomes are:

  • Intellectual and Practical Skills

Critical and Constructive Thinking: Inquiry, Examining Values, Solving Problems Creatively;

Communication: Writing, Presenting;

Engaging Others in Action: Participating, Leading

  • General and Specialized Knowledge
  • Personal and Social Responsibility
  • Ability to Integrate, Apply and Reflect

Assessment Measures

Instruction methods and content designed to achieve the defined learning outcomes are implemented throughout the journalism curriculum. A curriculum map (attached) cross-lists each departmental course available to journalism majors with the 11 ACEJMC professional values and competencies. For each course, the map indicates competencies that are introduced, emphasized, reinforced or advanced. This curriculum map forms the basis of how we envision the journalism coursework achieving the desired learning objectives.

At an elementary level then, student evaluations of teaching in these courses constitute a basic level of assessment. Grades received by students can also be an indicator of success in achieving learning outcomes. However, the assessment program extends well beyond these to other activities designed to more effectively appraise learning ouMDIAes and involve professional journalists in the evaluation process.

Direct Measures

Professional Evaluation of Student work:  with the assistance of the Journalism Alumni Advisory Board, student work from both the mid-point and the end of the journalism program will be evaluated. Student work from each of the capstone courses (JOUR 4200, JOUR 4300 and JOUR 4400) will be collected each spring semester. A sample of student work from sections of the Reporting course (JOUR 2500) will be drawn each spring semester as well. This work will then be submitted to members of the advisory board and other professionals as appropriate. For capstone courses, work will be submitted to a committee made up of professionals from the appropriate area (print, broadcast or public relations); for JOUR 2500, the committee may be composed of professionals in various areas. The committees will evaluate the work using the ACEJMC learning ouMDIAes and forms provided by the department as a guide.

JOUR 2500 Exit Exam: During the last week of each fall semester, an Exit Exam will be administered to students in the Reporting course. This exam is designed to assess student knowledge of basic concepts addressed in JOUR 1000, JOUR 2000 and JOUR 2500. The exam, consisting of multiple choice and open-ended questions, will  be graded by appropriate members of faculty.

Mentor Evaluation of Graduating Students:  Upon completion of JOUR 2000, students are invited to participate in a professional mentoring program. This program pairs students with alumni who have volunteered to participate. The mentoring relationship is intended to continue for the remainder of the student’s academic career and perhaps beyond. The program does not establish particular parameters for the mentoring relationship, allowing participants to develop plans that work for each situation. However, the program encourages activities such as job shadowing, critiquing of resumes and other work, mock interviews and discussion of career goals and strategies. Upon graduation of a student in the mentor program, the alumni mentor will assess the student based on the desired learning outcomes and submit a report to the Department of Journalism and Public Relations. Since the mentor will have had a relationship with the student spanning two or more years, he or she will be able to not only assess the student’s status upon graduation but also the student’s development over time.

Internship Supervisor Evaluations:  at the completion of each for-credit journalism internship, the professional supervisor of the internship completes an evaluation of the student’s preparedness, knowledge and performance. This evaluation is submitted to the school office, where the information is compiled in a spreadsheet before being sent to the faculty supervisor for the internship.

Indirect Measures

Student Exit Survey: each spring in the capstone courses, students will complete an exit survey in which they will assess their achievement of learning ouMDIAes over the course of their time at BGSU. These surveys will consist of likert-like questions for each learning outcome and will also allow students to enter comments for each learning ouMDIAe. The chair will compile a record of the data from these surveys.

Student Exit Interviews: each spring, the chair will conduct exit interviews with a sample of graduating students. These interviews will be designed to elicit student perceptions of overall achievement of learning outcomes, and courses and other activities that they view as strengths or weaknesses of the program. The chair will compile a record of the data from these interviews.

Student Performance in Regional and National Competitions: where appropriate, the performance of individual students and department-supervised organizations in regional and national competitions will be used as an indicator of achievement of learning outcomes.

Application of Findings

At the conclusion of spring semester, the chair will compile assessment data gathered during the school year and issue a report. The report will include the following information:

  • Complete reports of the professional committees evaluating student work in capstone courses and JOUR 2500 sections from the previous year;
  • Results of the Exit Exams administered in JOUR 2500 sections;
  • Reports from alumni participating in the mentoring program;
  • Spreadsheet data from all internship evaluations received in the preceding academic year (Fall-Spring-Summer);
  • Reports on student exit interviews and exit survey data;
  • Listing of student participation and performance in regional and national competitions;
  • Other assessment data as appropriate;
  • The chair’s overall evaluation of the above data and recommendations for action

The report will be made available to faculty, the director of the school, members of the Alumni Advisory Board and other interested parties as appropriate.

Early in fall semester, the journalism faculty will meet as a whole to discuss assessment data and actions needed based on the data. The faculty may make additional recommendations not included in the chair’s report. The faculty will then begin whatever processes are needed to make revisions to courses, instructional methods, curricula or the assessment plan.