Department of Theatre and Dance
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).
Theatre and Dance (THDN) exit interviews from during the 1998-2000 review cycle suggest that students have generally positive feelings about their departmental experiences.
Various instructors are identified as "faculty members from whom students learned the most," e.g. THTR performance faculty, THTR dramatic lit faculty, DNCE modern and ballet instructors. Sixteen of thirty-four respondents (47%) said that no THTR/DNCE instructors were below the university average. Interestingly, graduate students are considered faculty members by many exit interviewees, reinforcing the importance of graduate student teacher training at the department level.
Respondents had no difficulty identifying classes that were "most interesting" and "most valuable to them as learning experiences"; again, a variety of classes are mentioned here. When asked which THDN courses were "a waste of time," fourteen of thirty-four respondents (41%) said "none." Of those who did identify a class, one significant pattern emerges: five of twenty-four (24%) THTR respondents cited Basic Voice and Production sections taught by graduate students. It should be noted that an assistant professor hired in 1999 has apparently successfully addressed student dissatisfaction in this area.
Respondents offered a number of changes to "improve the department." Some of these suggestions require additional resources and others do not. Ten of thirty-four (29%) suggest that there should be more course offerings and additional instructors. Ten of thirty-four (29%) would like to see more attention/closer mentoring from THDN faculty. A similar number of respondents identified the need for greater connection/coordination inside the department, e.g. between THTR BA and BFA students, between THTR production and performance students and between THTR and DNCE divisions generally. There seem to be two areas of particular pressure:
Outcomes Assessment in Theatre
Senior Diagnostic Examinations for theatre students during the 1998-2000 review period showed a slight decline in overall student performance scores. In general, the examinations revealed that students in theatre (during the 1998-2000 review period) did not recall certain important historical data as well as did students who had graduated before 1998.
There was also an observable decline among these students in terms of their apparent writing ability. For the most part, students from this review cycle demonstrated, as opposed to students from earlier review cycles, greater difficulty in presenting well written essays. Of particular difficulty for this group was the process of supporting ideas through the use of primary source materials. Interestingly, BFA students tended to score better than BA students in all areas of the Senior Diagnostic Examination, including writing.
At its annual retreat, the department began its process of reflecting upon these findings. As a result, considerable interest among faculty developed toward trying to determine if the test results accurately reflected an actual decline in student performance. Some colleagues questioned this assumption, and wondered if the current examination asked the right questions to accurately probe student performance and accomplishment. These are good questions to consider here, and the faculty will be examining them with care in the upcoming year. Faculty are concerned that if the curriculum is not working as effectively as assumed, then curricular changes designed to improve the situation must be implemented as soon as possible. On the other hand, if the test is no longer apposite, and does not represent an accurate tool, then it should be modified to more accurately represent the goals and objectives of the department in relation to its undergraduate curriculum. It will be an interesting discussion.
Annual portfolio reviews of all design majors in theatre were also completed during this review cycle. These reviews showed steady improvement among students in their creative achievements and also showed that their ability to communicate about those achievements had improved. Faculty are considering how they might help students record their respective design portfolios on digital media. If done, this new process could generate an accessible portfolio collection in design that would make it possible for faculty to review and evaluate patterns in student work(s) over a period of years. This form of extended review would surely help the department understand how well its design program actually functions in relation to the curriculum and instruction being offered.
Outcomes Assessment in Dance, 1998-2000
As in previous years, the areas of history and music had the most missed questions. BA students are required to take both semesters of history so they, as a cohort, should know all of the information covered on the test. The BFA students are required to take only the 20th century course, so it can be expected that they would not be familiar with the questions covered in the History and Philosophy class. Faculty in Dance believe that the history area of the test should be reviewed. One possible solution would be to remove these items from the test for BFA students.
BA students are required to take only one of the music courses, while the BFA students must take both. This could explain why the BA students scored lower in music. Dance faculty might review this area of the test. Since a BA student must have only the information from one of the two music courses, it might be necessary to modify the test so that it can take into account the differences in music preparation that exists between BA and BFA students in this area of study.
This group missed more in the technique and choreography areas than most graduating seniors which may be due to the high number of BA's. BA students take fewer technique hours and only the Beginning Composition course whereas BFA students must take more technique and all the levels of Composition. Perhaps this area of the test should be reviewed again, since a BA student would not know the more advanced level information for choreography and would have less experience in technique than the BFA students.
This group also missed more in the Movement Analysis area than previous graduating classes, even though five of the six students took the class less than one year ago. There is currently no explanation for this lack of knowledge. Dance faculty need to examine this situation and collect evidence that can inform the curriculum in this area of study in dance.
In addition to the Freshman and Senior Diagnostic tests, the Dance Faculty also keeps extensive recorded (videotape) portfolios on all of their students. These portfolios allow the dance faculty (tenure, tenure track, and instructors) to review how well students do over a period of years, and, in essence, give the program a precise way to see how well the curriculum and teaching work. The review process does not use a numerical scoring method, but involves questions between the faculty and student which leads to short narrative being written on each student. As a practice, this review involves two or three dance faculty, one of whom is the student's academic advisor.
Evaluations of this nature tend to be quite subjective, but they are also very informative in terms of examining the quality creative works. The portfolio reviews from this evaluation period showed that students were doing as well as students from previous graduating classes. No particular problems or patterns of problems were discerned. Overall, the curriculum appears to be working quite well. The one major problem, however, is that limited resources make it virtually impossible to give students the range of dance experiences that they should be receiving in this program.
Last revision 01/23/03
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