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Department of Theatre and Dance
Last updated 1/7/2003

Knowledge and skill goals for this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog.

In some summaries of assessment activity, goals are referred to by number (e.g., K-2 is knowledge goal 2).

Assessment 2001-2002
Assessment 1998-2000
Assessment before 1998

Assessment 2001-2002

Professor Merrill Lessley is the Department's Outcome Assessment Coordinator. In February 2002, he submitted a report to the Assessment Oversight Committee that detailed outcome assessment efforts through Spring 2000. This report by Chair Oliver Gerland covers the period between Fall 2000 and Spring 2002.


Diagnostic Examinations
Dance undergraduate students take written diagnostic tests as freshmen and again as seniors. Theatre students take their assessment exam only in the senior year. (We are introducing a freshman diagnostic AY 2002-03). These assessment examinations are administered during a class period. They are then reviewed by the faculty and discussed with the students.

Videotaping and Portfolio Review
Dance undergraduate students are videotaped as freshmen and each subsequent year they are in the program. Dance faculty members meet with the students during their senior year to review these tapes. Faculty members write an evaluation (kept on file) of the student's overall progress. Dance BA students must bring a resume to their senior interview and Dance BFA students must provide a portfolio with photographs of their work. Theatre BFA students are evaluated at the end of each semester on the basis of their work in class and for theatre productions. Performance BFA students are videotaped during their "Audition Techniques" studio: a faculty member discusses with students their videotaped audition. BFA students in the Theatre Design & Technology track are required to submit portfolios of their creative work each December for review by a faculty panel.

Exit Interviews
All students (theatre and dance, undergraduate and graduate) are encouraged to meet with the Chair or Associate Chairs for exit interviews during which they respond to a standard set of questions about their academic and production experience. Students are not identified by name in the exit interview report; only their degree program is noted.


Diagnostic Examinations
During 2000-2002, department faculty continued to modify senior assessment examinations to better match the tests to the experience of different student populations.

The dance faculty substantially revised its written assessment exam to more accurately reflect recent curricular changes. The average senior test score during this period for Dance BFA students was 78 (out of 100) whereas for Dance BA students it was 71 (out of 100). (BFA students, with approximately 20 more department credit hours than BA students, tend to score higher on these examinations). The average score on the first year exam was 30, approximately 45 percentage points below the seniors' average.

The average test score of theatre BA and BFA students in the theatre senior assessment exam during this period was 58% (57% in 2000 and 60% in 2001). Overall, theatre students did better on the one sentence identification questions (drawn from performance, technology and theatre history/dramatic literature classes) than they did on the questions requiring them to name plays and playwrights. The theatre division anticipates a significant revision of the exam in the next two years, reflecting a recent major curricular revision that gives students more upper division flexibility.

Videotaping and Portfolio Reviews
These activities continue to be effective and appreciated by the students as preparations to enter "the real world" of the theatre and dance professions.

Exit Interviews
Exit interviews remain an effective way to stay in touch with undergraduate students' concerns. From 2000 to 2002, the department graduated 14 Dance BAs, 7 Dance BFAs, 26 Theatre BAs, and 26 Theatre BFAs. We have exit interview reports from 6 Dance BAs, 3 Dance BFAs, 16 Theatre BAs, 19 Theatre BFAs (for an average response rate of 60%).

Several important curricular changes have been made during the 2000-02 period, in part in response to concerns expressed in these and earlier exit interviews:

  • Dance BA students have called for additional Ballet classes. The dance division has clarified and broadened its curriculum, adding new BA emphasis tracks in Ballet and World Dance & Culture.
  • Theatre BA students regularly express the perception that BFA students are favored by the faculty in theatre production casting. (BFA students are indeed cast more often but this is because the faculty judges them to have greater talent and they have received additional training). The faculty believes that the BAs' perception arises from lack of strong sense of community in the theatre division and a lack of production opportunities. To address the first area of concern, we have instituted a new introductory course called "Theatre Foundations" in which all freshman students participate and can begin to develop strong ties to one another and to the theatre community here at CU. Addressing the second area of concern is more difficult given our scarce resources in terms of space and faculty oversight. Lack of supervised production opportunities is a problem the faculty (theatre and dance alike) continues to struggle to solve in an era of shrinking resources.
  • Theatre and Dance students alike would like to see more interaction between the two divisions. Increased theatre and dance cooperation was called for in the most recent PRP report, and the exit interviews underscore the importance of this goal. Recent curriculum responses include the development of a graduate-level course called "Design for Dancers" co-taught by theatre costume design faculty member Janice Benning and dance faculty members David Capps and Bob Shannon called "Design for Dancers." As well, a recent curriculum change has led to the requirement that dance students take theatre stagecraft classes. Finally, improved cooperation between theatre and dance students is also visible in recent productions supported by the department such as the On-Stage "BoulderFringe Festival." Theatre faculty member Ted Stark, costume shop supervisor, deserves special mention--and is often highly praised by exiting students--for his commitment to building up the theatre and dance community here at CU.


The theatre division is implementing a freshman diagnostic to complement the senior diagnostic this year (exam to be given in THTR 1019: Theatre Foundations which is required of all THTR majors). Also, the theatre division will be undertaking a significant revision of the diagnostic exam in light of recent curricular changes. Finally, both the theatre and dance divisions look forward to enhancing the videotaping of student performances. Ideally, we would like to help BFA students prepare a videotape or website of their work that could be used not only for outcomes assessment purposes but also as an introduction to the profession.

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Last revision 01/23/03

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