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Assessment Planning for the B.S. Degree in Agricultural Communications
The Agricultural Communications major is a small program that serves two principle groups of students: 1) those seeking careers in communications and journalism related to agriculture and related fields, and 2) those with broad interests in agriculture who do not elect to major in one of the other seven BS degree programs. The advantage to the latter group is a highly flexible degree program with opportunities for breadth of study but with emphasis on communication skills. The advantage to the former group is preparation for a communications or journalism career in an agriculture related field. Hence the overall program goals are to provide students with desired breadth and depth of study in agriculture and related fields and to provide significant emphasis on oral and written communications.
The core curriculum, beyond the USP, includes 24 credit hours (12 prescribed, 12 elective) in communications and journalism and 42 elective credit hours in agriculture courses. The combined cores are designed to provide appropriate disciplinary content. Following are student learning goals and objectives that further support the formal course and degree requirements.
Student Learning Goals and Objectives.
The following goals are broad statements that describe the program more than specific student learning outcomes. The objectives associated with each are intended to be a starting point for addressing some manageable and specific student learning objectives. One of the challenges in the agricultural communication assessment plan is teasing out the ways in which component courses and curricula from the Department of Communications & Journalism, College of Arts & Sciences and in the College of Agriculture contribute to student learning.
Goal I. To develop proficiency in written and oral communication for professional and non-professional audiences.
Goal II. To gain appreciation and understanding of agriculture and related disciplines.
Goal III. To acquire life long learning skills for engaged citizenship.
Suggested Objectives and Assessment Strategies.
Toward Goal I
· Students, upon admission to Ag Communications, will write a personal resumeé in collaboration with the UW Center for Advising and Career Services and update it annually; to be assessed by the CACS and academic adviser (beginning Fall 2007).
· Students, upon admission, will write a reflective essay about personal and/or professional aspirations and potential relevance of the Agricultural Communications major; to be assessed by the academic adviser (beginning Fall 2007).
· Senior students will write a second reflective essay, as above, for comparative assessment of writing skills.
· Junior students will draft a hypothetical letter of application for employment and be encouraged to participate in mock interviews and the university career fair, in collaboration with the UW Center for Advising and Career Services (beginning Fall 2007).
· Students may elect to enroll in an academic internship that will be assessed by the intern employer and the academic adviser. Internship responsibilities and products vary, but considerable attention will be given to written and/or oral communications (ongoing).
Toward Goal I and in part, Goals II and III
· Students will be encouraged to develop and maintain an academic portfolio (online or hard copy) to chronicle and document significant academic accomplishments, learning, and activities that provide evidence of academic and professional development. The portfolio will be reviewed yearly by the academic adviser (beginning Fall 2007).
Toward Goals II and III
· Exit surveys will be administered to all students exiting or graduating from the program (beginning Spring 2007).
· Placement records will be maintained for all graduates to document applicability of academic experience to selected career (beginning Spring 2007).
· Employer surveys will be conducted periodically to assess satisfaction with student preparedness for career (to be developed).
Enrollment has ranged from 15 – 29 (mean 21.5) students from 2000 – 2006. There is no agricultural communications department or faculty. The program is administered by the College of Agriculture, Associate Dean and Director, Academic & Student Programs, and relies on the faculty and courses in the Department of Communication and Journalism, College of Arts & Sciences, and in the College of Agriculture for instruction. Effective Fall 2006 there is a concurrent Ag Education and Ag Communications baccalaureate degree program, collaboratively developed and administered by the Colleges of Agriculture and Education.