1 Program Review Master of Arts in Communication Studies College of Liberal Arts November 2014 MARSHALL UNIVERSITY
3 3 College/School Dean s Recommendation Deans, please indicate your recommendation and submit the rationale. Recommendation: 1. Continuation of the program at the current level of activity. Rationale: (If you recommend a program for resource development identify all areas for specific development) The MA program in Communication Studies makes a significant contribution to graduate and undergraduate education at Marshall University, furthering the mission of the institution in multiple ways. The curriculum of the program promotes an educated citizenry capable of living and working in a global environment. Coursework in health communication contributes to improved delivery of health care through improved health campaigns and more effective provider/patient communication. The program provides teaching assistantships to ten graduate students each semester, making graduate education available and affordable to those students in addition to providing public speaking instruction to hundreds of undergraduate students at a significant savings compared to assigning those general education classes to full-time faculty members. The graduate faculty are diverse, accomplished, and well-qualified. However, the number of graduate faculty has been depleted by the assignment of two former members to administrative assignments. Instruction in the graduate course rotations has been covered by fewer senior faculty. The reassigned faculty have been replaced for the past four years with contingent faculty who are not eligible for graduate course assignments. With one of the former graduate faculty members now in a permanent administrative position, the department needs a tenuretrack faculty replacement who will be eligible to cover graduate coursework. The program continues to attract strong students. The entrance credentials of students increased steadily over the review period and program assessment results show that students clearly develop greater competency during their two years of study. Many students in the program serve as teaching assistants and/or competitive coaches for the speech and debate team. These assignments provide a significant service to the university and benefit the students in their development as professionals. The department is able to cover 20 sections of the required public speaking course, taught by graduate teaching assistants at a fraction of the cost of assigning those courses to full time faculty. The Thundering Word speech and debate team is able to provide coaching on campus and at tournaments for a larger number of participants. With the assistance of the graduate student coaches, the Thundering Word placed 15 th in the nation at the national tournament last year, with the promise of an improved ranking in years to come. The graduate students benefit greatly from the professional experience they gain as classroom teachers and coaches. This excellent preparation may account for the confirmed 87% placement rate of CMM MA graduates in jobs and/or graduate schools (note: of the 13% not confirmed, some may also have jobs or graduate school placements, but the program was unable to get a response from those 6 graduates). The MA program in CMM is a strong program, attracting strong students who serve the university and the program well. The program has improved its assessment process and promotes high level outcomes for students during their tenure at Marshall and afterwards, in their professions or post-graduate study. The concern for this program is a decline in majors
4 4 over the last two years of the review period. While improved recruiting may stem that trend, the reduction in MA students is at least partly due to non-competitive compensation. Many of the best graduate students come to this program for the teaching and coaching opportunities, which are accompanied by graduate assistantships. Over the past five years, the tuition waiver benefits have covered less of the cost of attendance than in previous decades. Furthermore, the $6000 annual stipend earned by GAs is less than half the stipend offered at comparable institutions. Prospective graduate students with the potential to be good instructors and coaches are easily lured to other schools by better tuition waiver/stipend packages. The MA program in Communication Studies is healthy and makes an important contribution to the general education curriculum at Marshall as well as preparing graduates for success in a variety of professions. I recommend continuation of the program at the current level of activity, with the stipulation that improved compensation of graduate assistants would greatly improve recruiting for this program, and for other graduate programs across the campus. R.B. Bookwalter Signature of the Dean 11/3/2014 Date
5 5 Marshall University Program Review For purposes of program review, the academic year will begin in summer and end in spring. Program: Master of Arts in Communication Studies College: Liberal Arts Date of Last Review: Academic Year I. CONSISTENCY WITH UNIVERSITY MISSION Marshall University has a commitment to undergraduate education that contributes to the development of society and the individual. In addition the vision of the institution places a priority on preparing students for the responsibilities of life within a culturally diverse and globally interdependent society. The university s mission statement further emphasizes that faculty will require students to develop critical thinking skills, and that students will learn to engage in civic discourse in order to contribute to the betterment of society. The study of communication is central to these elements of the University s mission. Since Greco-Roman times the study of communication has been at the core of the liberal arts. Logic and Rhetoric comprise two of the seven original liberal arts. While the M.A. program in Communication Studies addresses many elements of the Marshall University mission, the most substantial contribution of our program is in preparing students to examine critically the many issues facing society and, through the process of civil discourse, prepare themselves to become socially responsible individuals who contribute to the betterment of society. Our M.A. program provides career enhancement opportunities to working professionals. In doing so the program improves the knowledge and critical thinking skills our graduate students need to make the community a better place to live. Our courses also promote critical examination of and civil discourse about current problems, encouraging our students to be socially responsible and to contribute to improving their communities. For some of our students the M.A. program provides them with preparation for further graduate education. II. Adequacy of the Program 1. Curriculum: The M.A. program in Communication Studies requires 36 credit hours to complete the degree. Students who elect the thesis option complete 30 hours of coursework and receive 6 hours of credit for the thesis. Students who elect the nonthesis option take 36 hours of classes. For all students, CMM 601, Problems and Methods in Communication Research, and CMM 606, Studies in Communication Theory, are required. The remainder of the degree program is developed by the student in consultation with his/her advisor and graduate committee members. Six to nine hours may be taken outside the department if the courses are appropriate to the student s program and are approved by the student s committee. The ability of students to tailor their programs of study to suit their objectives is an important feature of the program. A listing of courses offered in the graduate program is provided in Appendix I.
6 6 2. Faculty: Nine members of the Communication Studies faculty are members of the graduate faculty. Six hold Full Graduate Faculty status (Brammer, Cooper, Gilpin, Tarter, Underhill, J., and Underhill, S.) and are able to chair graduate student committees. Three faculty members (Bookwalter, Greenwood, and Woods) hold Associate Graduate Faculty status and are eligible to serve on graduate committees and teach graduate classes. All of these faculty members hold the Ph.D. degree. Bookwalter, Brammer, Cooper, Gilpin, Greenwood, and Tarter are tenured and the Underhills are tenure-track faculty members. During the period of this review, three former members of the department faculty also served as graduate faculty. Dr. Averbeck served as a member of the health communication faculty and graduate faculty member until Spring 2012, Dr. Calhoon contributed to our graduate program until Spring Dr. Torppa served until Spring 2014 as the lead professor for Health Communication; she was replaced by Dr. Woods who has a three year term contract. His area of emphasis is Health Communication. Appendix II contains detailed Faculty Data Sheets for each member of the graduate faculty. These data clearly indicate that our faculty members have a distinguished record of teaching and advising, scholarship, and service. The graduate faculty members in Communication Studies have an outstanding record of teaching. Student evaluations of teaching in our graduate courses compare favorably with the average evaluation results for the college as a whole (3.62/4.00 for the College; 3.65/4.00 for graduate courses in CMM). Drs. Cooper, Brammer, Greenwood, Torppa, Tarter and the Underhills all developed and taught new graduate courses in the past five years. Dr. Cooper developed a course in Computer Mediated Communication, Dr. Brammer developed a course in Health Literacy, Dr. Greenwood re-developed a course in Communication Pedagogy, and Dr. Torppa developed two courses in Health Communication, Dr. Tarter developed a course in Non-verbal Communication, Dr. Steve Underhill has taught a special topic course Herbert Hoover and Rhetoric and Dr. Jill Underhill developed a Qualitative Research Methods course. During the five years of the review period, Dr. Greenwood served as Director of the Basic Course, training and supervising graduate teaching assistants and part time instructors who teach most sections of CMM 103 each semester. The Communication Studies faculty also offers an outstanding record of service. During the first years of the period under review Dr. Bookwalter served as Interim dean in the College of Education and one year as interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts. He was recently selected as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Dr. Gilpin has served as associate dean in the Honors College for five years and continues to do so. Drs. Brammer, Gilpin, and Tarter have all served on the Faculty Senate. Dr. Brammer served as Chair of the Faculty Senate from 2008 to Dr. Cooper sits on the American Communication Association Board of Directors. Drs. Cooper and Brammer serve on the Institutional Review Board, with Cooper presiding as chair. Faculty members have contributed to teaching UNI 101, as advisors to student groups, and have made substantial contributions to the President s Strategic Planning Initiative and to the revision of the Core Curriculum at Marshall University. Dr. Brammer has also served and continues to serve on the 20/20 Committee and the Faculty Salary Adjustment Team.
7 7 The Communication Studies faculty members have also contributed to scholarship in important ways. Despite the 4/4 teaching load and the high level of service contributed by Department faculty, members of the Communication studies faculty have made meaningful contributions to scholarly and creative activities in our field. A review of the faculty profiles in Appendix II reveals that during the period of this program review Communication Studies faculty have produced one book, 3 book chapters, 8 peer reviewed articles, four revised editions of course workbooks, two editions of a test bank for a nationally distributed textbook, 10 paper presentations at national or regional conferences, 12 panel presentations, 11 training sessions conducted by faculty, multiple invited lecture/workshops, as well as applied research for state government and other public and private agencies. Faculty have also been largely responsible for the approximately $50, being awarded to several organizations in Huntington, WV. These include the Tri-State Literacy Council and the Boys and Girls Club as examples. Further evidence of faculty achievements can be found in Appendix II Faculty Data. 3. Students: a. Entrance Standards: To be admitted to the M.A. program in Communication Studies, students must meet the entrance requirements of the Graduate College which include 1) receipt of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university; 2) a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale; 3) a score of 800 or above on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE, and a score of 4 or more on the GRE writing sample; and 4) the information required on the Application for Graduate Admissions. There are no other requirements for admission. b. Entrance and Exit Abilities of past five years of graduates: Appendix III shows that our last five years of graduates entered the program with undergraduate GPAs that ranged from yearly means of 3.16 to 3.4, yearly mean GRE Verbal scores that ranged from 421 to 468, and yearly mean GRE Quantitative scores that ranged from 462 to 580. Appendix IV shows that these graduates also compiled respectable GPAs during their graduate program, with yearly means ranging from 3.57 to Resources: a. Financial: The Department of Communication Studies received approximately $643,316 from state funds for , as compared to $644,575 in This figure includes full time faculty salaries and fringe benefits, teaching assistant salaries, part time instructor monies and work study salaries, $15,000 in operating expenses and just over $11,500 in e-course income. The e-course money is used for faculty travel and other expenditures not covered in the operating expenses, such as purchase of computers and other equipment needed for the operations of the department. The sum does not include the money provided for faculty development grants, summer research grants, and faculty travel grants. Based on the ratio of graduate courses and undergraduate courses offered, approximately 92% of program resources
8 8 support the undergraduate program, with the remainder supporting the graduate program. If the program were to be eliminated, there would be minimal savings resulting from the reduced need for course offerings for majors. The reduction in classes would be unlikely to exceed 15% of the total classes offered because of the continuing need to offer general education classes and other courses which serve programs in Business, Education and Liberal Arts as electives. If all courses serving only the BA program Communication Studies were eliminated, the institution would still need to offer 50+ sections of courses which serve general education requirements and requirements for other majors and other colleges. Without a BA program in Communication Studies, the MA program would be unsupportable. The institution could save approximately $60,000 per year in stipends for teaching assistants. Full time faculty would have to be retained to teach the service courses in the department. At the present level of enrollment, the department would need 10 full time faculty, all teaching a 4/4 teaching load with no reapportioned time to cover the number of sections that serve the non-major population of students. With this in mind, the costs of eliminating the program would far outweigh any savings. Moreover, future Marshall students would be disadvantaged in the job market because they would not have acquired the communication skills that employers value so highly in new hires. b. Facilities: As of Fall 2014 all of the classrooms assigned to the Department of Communication Studies have been up-graded to Smart Classrooms! We are very pleased that funds were available for this up-grade. Our students and faculty have benefitted greatly from this. The one issue the students and faculty have with the SH 227 classroom is the type of student desks used in this room. The students complain that the chairs move too freely and are uncomfortable; the faculty objects to the constant moving of the chairs while they are trying to conduct class. It would be good if these could be replaced. Our computers are adequate but will need replacement soon. The library facilities, because of budget reductions, are becoming a problem not only for Communication Studies faculty and students but also most programs in the University. This must be addressed soon. As reported in our last review, space is a problem: our 10 graduate teaching assistants share one office which is not suitable for individual student/teacher conferences; there are not offices for all of our term faculty; and our nationally competitive forensics speech and debate team needs practice space. We have asked for additional space and have been told that officials are working on the issue. 5. Assessment Information: a. Assessment data are derived from course grades in the required theory and research courses; from midterm exam responses in the theory course; from student performance on papers, presentations and proposals in the required theory and research courses; and from comprehensive examination results. Comprehensive examination responses are used as a measure of theoretical knowledge, ability to apply theory to communication contexts, and an understanding of methodological validity. Midterm examination results from the 600-level seminar courses are used as
9 9 a measure of student competency in critical thinking and listening as well as their ability to explain major communication methodologies. Papers, presentations and proposals are used as measures of mastery of communication theory, competence in oral and written communication, and the ability to apply research methodology appropriately to communication phenomena. The benchmarks set for student achievement on these measures are a 100 percent success rate on comprehensive examination responses and 95 percent of students earning A or B grades on papers, presentations, and examinations. Results of the program s assessment efforts show that students generally exceed the benchmarks set for the outcomes related to mastering communication theory and applying theory to selected communication situations. Assessment results for the outcomes related to critical thinking, effective oral and written communication, and mastery of research methodology have improved since the last review. This we believe is the direct result of our efforts to provide the students with more specific feedback on assignments for their improvement. A substantial majority of students are achieving success on these measures and the success rate has risen to the level of percent. The three notable initiatives taken to improve student performance have been to: a) clarify program expectations for performance on comprehensive examinations by having graduate students meet with the Director of Graduate Studies and their individual committee members for specific feedback, b) incorporate a stronger emphasis on strategic application of research methods to communication phenomena and c) provide more precise feedback to students on their written and oral work. Also, our improved assessment procedures are helping faculty to better address the needs of students for their success. Appendix V b. Other Learning and Service Activities: The Communication Studies Program does not offer other learning and service activities in the traditional format; however, the department sponsors and is home to the Thundering Word, the Forensics and Debate Team. The Thundering Word and Marshall University sponsored the National Forensics and Debate National Tournament in Spring 2013 term. The national exposure for the university in such a positive way was phenomenal. The Thundering Word is the only academic traveling team in the university. In this way it serves as a positive service to the university as a whole. Members of the team represent all colleges and disciplines; it is not just Communication Studies majors. The team is funded by the office of the President, the College of Liberal Arts, the Communication Studies Program, and donations made to the Marshall Foundation designated to the team. Participation in this activity further develops the student s creativity, critical thinking, and intellectual acumen. The accomplishments of the Thundering Word can be found on the Communication Studies and College of Liberal Arts websites. The team is under the direction of Director Danny Ray who was hired Fall The current budget is $38, but needs to be increased substantially to cover the traveling expenses. We are currently working with the Marshall Foundation to increase donor activity. Professor Ray is also developing an on-line course to be first offered Spring The e-course monies generated will be designated to the forensics program. Past experience with fully enrolled e- courses indicates a possible income of $5, per semester.
10 10 The Communication Studies program and the Thundering Word sponsor the John Marshall Speech and Debate High School Tournament every spring which attracts as many as 300 high school students to the university. It serves as a very impressive recruiting opportunity for Marshall University. The department also sponsors a college tournament, the Chief Justice. The popularity of this tournament is growing. Every year the number of schools attending increases which affords the program excellent recruiting opportunities for graduate students. The department of Communication Studies has benefitted in this very way. Two years ago two of the college competitors applied to our graduate program for coaching positions with the Thundering Word. These two students finished last year, one is coaching at Willey in Texas and the other is in a PhD program in Ohio. c. Plans for Program Improvement: The M.A. program in Communication Studies has gone through a significant transition during the period of this review. Faculty members have changed including the department chair; four faculty members left for positions at other institutions; one retired; and two have left for administrative positions. The program hired two new assistant professors in 2011and another faculty member joined the program fall 2014 to replace Dr. Torppa. The program was also allowed 4 term faculty positions to allow for coverage of classes taught by faculty now in administrative positions. This substantial restructuring of program personnel prompted a review our entire program, from our mission and vision, to our course offerings, our course rotations, our recruiting efforts, and our assessment procedures. This was done Spring of 2013 at a faculty retreat. The most significant initiative resulting from this review is the graduate emphasis in Health Communication. Health Communication is an emerging area of study within our field and the proximity of Marshall University to two major medical centers, as well as a nursing school and a medical school, makes an expansion of our offerings in Health Communication a promising direction to take. Drs. Brammer, Underhill, and Woods will be expanding our current offerings in Health Communication. We developed a sequence of courses so that graduate students can develop expertise in this area, and that we might attract graduate students from programs in the Health Professions. We expect the programs in the Health Professions (MA in Public Health and MA in Physical Therapy) to be enrolling students by fall 2015 and spring We will adjust as needed once enrollment numbers are known from the College of Health Professions. This field is positioned to be one of the most demanded by future students. d. Graduate Satisfaction: See Sec. IV: 2. Graduates for a detailed report. e. The previous five years of assessment report evaluations for the MA in Communication Studies are provided in Appendix IX. 6. Previous Reviews: At its meeting on April 22, 2010, the Marshall University Board of Governors recommended that the MA in Communication Studies continue at its current level of activity. 7. Identify weaknesses and deficiencies noted in the last program review and provide information regarding the status of improvements implemented or accomplished.
11 11 In its last program review, completed in academic year , the MA in Communication Studies identified the following weaknesses. These are transcribed verbatim from that report. One area of concern in our graduate program is the trend toward fewer students pursuing thesis research and further graduate study in the field. During the period of this review, the program experienced a reduction in the number of full graduate faculty members and a reduction in the number of graduate students pursuing doctoral study after completing their MA degree in Communication Studies. In large part this can be attributed to the limited support for faculty and student research. Faculty receive no adjustment in their teaching responsibilities as recognition of the greater time and resources devoted to teaching graduate courses and directing master s theses. Faculty and students alike receive minimal support for conducting research and for travel to conferences to present research papers. Further, the program has only one computer available to be shared by teaching assistants and other graduate students for preparing and printing course materials, research and writing. This highlights the expectations of the institution that graduate students will provide their own computer hardware and software to perform even those duties that are assigned by the department. Additional hardware and software needed to support student research efforts would have to be acquired using a department budget, which has been cut in three of the five years of this review period. The department of Communication Studies has addressed the above areas of concern in several ways. All graduate faculty hold full graduate faculty status and we have increased the number of our graduate students. Other issues reported in this section such as monies for travel, research and student tuition fees are not in the power of the department to change. However, we have made it possible for each member of the graduate faculty to attend at least one conference with funding from the department through our e-course earned monies. We also have made available to students three computers in our computer lab for their use and for use by adjunct faculty members. Student research we fund through the royalties department members earn for workbooks written by them, with the proceeds being dedicated back to the department for student travel and other miscellaneous expenses. And, as in the last review, our budgets continue to be cut each year. 8. Current Strengths/Weaknesses: One of the strengths of the M.A. program in Communication Studies is the diversity of our student population. Currently 60 percent of the students entering our graduate program hold bachelor s degrees from our undergraduate program, approximately 20 percent of our M.A. graduates are international students from Saudi Arabia, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Great Britain, Turkey, and Uzbekistan. The remaining 20 percent of our students come from other universities such as Ohio University, Bowling Green State, Bradley, Virginia Tech, and Shawnee State. Many of our graduate students support their graduate education by serving as graduate teaching assistants. They do a wonderful job teaching two sections per semester of CMM 103. The program is able to hire 10 graduate students per year, providing an opportunity for a graduate education to the students and serving over 1000 students in the required CMM 103 course. Student evaluations show that our graduate teaching
12 12 assistants are very well-received by their students. On the whole, the graduate teaching assistants in our program are outstanding ambassadors for the department and for the university. Another improving part of our program is the number of students writing theses. In the period of this review, students writing theses has increased 45 percent. There are some weaknesses that should be addressed. Faculty and students would be researching and writing more if there was support for these activities. Faculty receive no adjustment in their teaching responsibilities as recognition of the greater time and resources devoted to teaching graduate courses and directing master s theses. Faculty and students alike receive minimal support for conducting research and for travel to conferences to present research papers. The program attempts to address some of this shortfall through realized e-course monies. III. Viability of the Program: 1. Articulation Agreements: We do not have any articulation agreements with any other institutions. 2. Off-Campus Classes: We do not have any off-campus graduate courses. 3. Online Courses: We do not have any on-line graduate courses. 4. Service Courses: We are building a Health Curriculum for graduate students with the College of Health Professions. Several of our graduate classes are required in the Masters in Public Health and the Masters in Physical Therapy. 5. Program Course Enrollment: Most courses in the Communication Studies M.A. program are offered every fourth semester. This practice enables us to offer a broader range of graduate courses than would be the case if each class were scheduled more frequently. Most full-time graduate students take two years to complete their degree requirements, so every course in the department is available to any graduate student pursuing a degree within a normal time frame. The two required courses in the M.A. program, CMM 601, Problems and Methods in Communication Research and CMM 606, Studies in Communication Theory, are offered every third semester to meet the greater demand. One course, CMM 511, Communication Study and Research is offered every fall because it is intended as an introduction to graduate study in our program. Enrollment in graduate courses in Communication Studies during the current review period averaged students per year, compared to 157 students per year in the previous review period, a decrease of 30 percent. This we feel is due to the decline of graduate students in the region; the loss of enrollment in the College of Business; and our inability to be competitive in tuition waivers. It is difficult to recruit graduate teaching