Outcomes & Assessment Component

Ultimately, the Concentration in Writing and Rhetoric aims to play a part in "developing the total person: intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, culturally, socially and physically" as articulated in the Villanova Mission statement. In applying these broad goals to the specific area of writing and rhetoric, the directives outlined in the recent "Statement of Villanova's Educational Goals and Objectives" offer a useful framework. Accordingly, steps will be taken to assess the Writing and Rhetoric Concentration in terms of imparting values, knowledge and skills in two fundamental areas. First, a measurement of student acquisition of skills, knowledge and values related to the Concentration will be carried out. Second, a means of evaluating overall programmatic effectiveness will be put into place. The results of these assessments will provide information which will guide curricular and programmatic improvements in the quality and effect of the Concentration.

To determine student acquisition of skills, an entrance essay exam will be administered and scored in terms of purpose, content, style and organization. A base score must be attained for entrance into the Concentration. When students in the Concentration reach the last semester of their senior year, they will be asked to critique and rewrite their entrance essay as a way of demonstrating the acquisition of more sophisticated composing techniques and rhetorical skill. This critique and rewrite will become part of their capstone portfolio.

The following grid will illustrate the desired outcomes in the areas of student and over all programmatic assessment as well as the means used to determine their acquisition.

Student Assessment: Students must have a 3.0 average or better to enroll in the Concentration. To successfully complete the Concentration, students must achieve a 3.0 average in their Concentration courses.

1. Values

Desired Objectives Method of Assessment
Write/speak from examined values and moral conviction Ethical evaluation component on exams and assignments in appropriate Concentration courses
Critique other's writing/speaking from an ethical standpoint Ethical evaluation component in peer critiquing sessions
Understand the relationship between language, knowledge and power Successful completion of exams and assignments in courses with rhetoric and ideology component
Ethical commitment to work for social justice through writing/speaking Opportunity to take service learning courses with substantial writing component; write for community organizations; grant writing
Ethical commitment in future professional writing Opportunity to make Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility

2. Knowledge

Desired Objectives Method of Assessment
Knowledge of a variety of forms and styles of writing and speaking Successfully demonstrated in capstone portfolio
Knowledge of when to use styles and forms appropriately Successfully demonstrated in capstone portfolio
Awareness of personal composing process, strengths and weaknesses; self-confidence in writing/speaking abilities Writing/speaking attitude survey to be administered before and after Concentration courses (Kiersey online Personality Test taken for writing diagnostic)
Knowledge of conventions of standard grammar and punctuation Grade of 90% or above on self-administered WebCT grammar test
Awareness of linguistic (but not rhetorical) equality among dialects, both spoken and written Appropriate response on relevant questions in WebCT test of grammar conventions
Knowledge of rhetorical theory for writing and speaking success Successfully demonstrated in "capstone portfolio" collection
An understanding of rhetorical dimension of literary texts Successfully demonstrated in "capstone portfolio" collection

3. Skills

Desired Objectives Method of Assessment
Achievement of excellence in writing/speaking in rhetorical terms (appropriate purpose, audience, context) Use PowerPoint software to craft an effective in-class presentation
Ability to write or speak with flair, absence of error, and stylistic finesse Rewrite and self-critique of entrance essay
Ability to critique student's own and others' works Rewrite and self-critique of entrance essay
Ability to create a collection of successful and varied pieces of writing illustrating a range of rhetorical genres Design and compile a "capstone portfolio" with a selection of writing samples
Confident use of internet for display and production of student work Create and design web pages demonstrating student work and serving as professional springboard

4. Programmatic Assessment

Desired Objectives Method of Assessment
Student satisfaction with various aspects and goals of the Concentration CATS and other surveys to determine student opinion
Instructor competency CATS and other departmental evaluation measures such as teaching portfolios, interviews, etc.
Instructor evaluation of program, courses offered, goals, etc. Instructor meetings, surveys
Continued improvements in Concentration courses, faculty, internships Feedback from above measures used to guide further programmatic and faculty development, improvement, opportunities;
Long term programmatic growth and improvement Records kept of above measures for semester and yearly comparisons to track development and progress; point to problems and solutions

What the Program Offers

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As an interdisciplinary program with courses from the Departments of English and Communication, the Program in Writing and Rhetoric offers students opportunities to gain significant experience in a range of writing environments as well as knowledge of the rhetorical framework constituting professional, aesthetic and everyday writing. The program will allow students who want to pursue study in writing and communication to do so in a focused and comprehensive way with examination of the theoretical, historical, and philosophical aspects of these disciplines.

In keeping with the English Department's focus on literary texts, the notion of rhetoric informing the Concentration includes textual analysis as well as the more traditional uses of the term, thus bringing the wisdom and imagination of literary discourse into the Concentration. Such a focus on literary texts also underscores the well known correlation between reading well and writing well. In keeping with the Communication Department's focus on orality and persuasion, the Concentration will allow students to develop rhetorically complex understandings of audiences and mastery of the skills necessary to adapt written and oral messages for identified audiences.