In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).
Activity in 2003-2004
In the 2003-2004 academic year, outcomes assessment evaluations of the University of Colorado at Boulder
Film Studies Program were solicited from Howie Movshovitz, director of education at the Starz Film Center at
UCD; Timothy Ryerson, filmmaker and entertainment industry consultant; Philip Rowe, a Denver-based filmmaker;
and Diane Waldman, associate professor of mass communications at UCD.
The outcomes assessments for the bachelor of fine arts (production) track were based on evaluations of
advanced student films. Each evaluator was invited to the final screening of a section of the capstone
course FILM 4500 Advanced Film Production. Mr. Movshovitz attended the narrative genre section, Mr. Ryerson
the documentary section, and Mr. Rowe the experimental section. In evaluating the bachelor of arts
(critical studies) track of the program, Professor Waldman reviewed syllabi, assignments and student essay
exams and papers from three courses, representing middle, upper and elective levels. The external reviewers
reached the uniform conclusion that students in the Film Studies Program were meeting the knowledge and skill
goals outlined in the CU-Boulder catalog.
In his review of the narrative films, Mr. Movshovitz emphasized that overall the students demonstrated
good technical skill: "Without exception, films are well-shot and edited. Most of the films show reasonable
beginnings and middles, although like most student filmmakers, these students have trouble with endings.
Several films show exceptional talent and imagination." However, Mr. Movshovitz clearly felt that the
substance of the films did not rise to the level of their technical proficiency. Taking pains to stress that
he did not intend his comments to be a criticism of either the instructor or the students, he lamented the
shallowness of the films' content: "For the most part, I see in this set of student films a commitment only
to film technique, a complete avoidance of intellectual, philosophical or emotional risk, and a corresponding
emptiness in the substance of the films."
In his review of the documentary films, Mr. Ryerson noted that of the four times he has evaluated films
for the program, this group of films achieved the highest overall level of competency. He noted that the
films covered a range of styles and subject matter, and avoided excessive length and self-indulgence. In
discussing the films' technical proficiency, Mr. Ryerson felt the films exhibited an unobtrusive competence
that was suited to the needs of documentary filmmaking. He felt that the largest improvement came from
increased attention to form: "For the first time since I've screened films at UC Boulder, I detected an
emphasis on structure. This semester's videos were tighter, more compelling, and featured a greater sense of
a dramatic arc in the storytelling." The only suggestion for improvement that Mr. Ryerson offered was that
the students could have taken more risks and have gone deeper into their subjects: "[The filmmakers] did
admirable jobs and tackled some gnarly issues. But, as they gain skill and confidence, they need to pose the
harder questions and be willing to dig deeper. With the raw talent and skills they already possess, they are
poised to do some awesome work."
In his review of the experimental films, Mr. Rowe felt that the films exhibited a high level of technical
competence and an obvious dedication to film as art. He noted that by its very nature, experimental
filmmaking is about daring and trying, and that not all of the experiments succeeded: "This year's show
ranged greatly in quality and included experiments that, while often interesting, were not much more than
experiments. But it also included some wholly creditable work, many monuments of art, and three, maybe four,
of the best student films I've seen these three years. An honest assessment of a program that produces such
work can only be enthusiastic praise." The films represented a wide variety of approaches, and several were
singled out for their audacity, meaning that the filmmakers had taken on seemingly impossible projects and
yet succeeded wonderfully.
In her review of the critical studies program, Dr. Waldman reviewed materials from Film History II, the
second of two required history courses for majors; The Director's Craft: Stanley Kubrick, a critical studies
elective; and Film Theory, the capstone course required of all BA students. Dr. Waldman found that the
knowledge and skill goals of the program were being successfully met: "The student papers and exams evidence
particularly strong knowledge of important movements and figures in film history, the evolution of the
specific stylistic techniques of the medium, and auteurist, ideological and psychoanalytic theory and
criticism." The course on Kubrick was singled out for emphasizing both film history and film theory.
Referring to in-class exams, she indicated that many of the students in the middle division class (Film
History II) demonstrated poor writing skills: vague theses, no supporting evidence, examples that were
irrelevant or actually contradictory, and stylistic errors. However, this improved in the upper level
courses: "Although the ability of students to analyze and interpret films critically and to convey their
ideas competently in essay form varied, I was especially impressed with the papers in the capstone course,
which, as indicated above, speaks well for the job Film Studies is doing with its majors, particularly as
they are moving through the program, gaining greater sophistication in both knowledge of film and their
critical/analytical and writing skills."