As part of its learning assessment process to ensure that students in the Human Development Master of Arts (HD M.A.) program achieve mastery of the program level outcomes, the Human Development faculty at Pacific Oaks College have adopted a learning assessment plan that annually evaluates specific data from HD M.A. students. The faculty use the results of the outcomes data to direct improvements in student learning outcomes.
The Learning Assessment Plan provides for review of the following program level outcomes:
- a critical understanding of themselves from a developmental as well as a contextual place
- a critical understanding of others from a developmental as well as a contextual place
- the ability to take those understandings to action and begin to work toward positive change for all
One or more of these program level outcomes are selected annually for assessment by the faculty. The results:
Summary of Findings
- Thesis completion rates: Roughly half of HD M.A. students beginning their theses in spring 2006 had completed them by fall 2008. Of those, 79% completed the thesis within three terms.
- The thesis is an effective means of gauging the student's demonstration of the three program level outcomes. The thesis and the process of developing it "were fertile grounds for noting insights, inquiry, and critical thinking about self."
- The thesis course sequences (HD 684 and 699) are effective in preparing students to complete the master's thesis, with some noted exceptions: research methods, results, and discussion. Students expressed high satisfaction with the thesis committee chair and committee.
Areas for Improvement
- The structure of the thesis requirement is under review. It is likely that the scope of the thesis process will be revised to better meet students' academic needs.
- More emphasis needs to be placed in HD 684 on preparing students to conduct research and utilize the results in the thesis.
- Early coursework toward the master's degree needs to be modified to strengthen student achievement of Program Learning Goals 2 and 3. Particular emphasis needs to be placed on "understanding of others" and on participatory action projects and advocacy.
- HD faculty will work with the library staff to strengthen library and research support for thesis students.