Assessment @ Eastman

The Eastman School of Music’s process of student learning assessment seeks to demonstrate that its students have acquired knowledge, skills, and competencies consistent with institutional and National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) educational goals.  Clearly articulated statements of expected student learning outcomes for all levels were developed in 2010 that appropriately integrate with one another, are consonant with the mission of the University and the Eastman School, and are aligned with the NASM Student Learner Competencies.

Evidence is collected yearly and examined on a three-year cycle.  Representative types of evidence include:

  • Direct Evidence: Admissions data over a five year period (application numbers, offers, enrollment); total degree enrollment over a five year period; time to degree; student jury data; general education data (written and oral communication); music academic core course data (Music Theory and Music History); yearly reports from department chairs.
  • Indirect Evidence: A program-specific Student Exit Survey given to all students completing their course of study in a given calendar year.  This survey asks questions about the student’s specific program level learner goals and the specific music academic core goals (Music Theory and Music History).

A two-hour meeting is scheduled with each department during the fall semester to discuss direct and indirect data, including what the students in the department report they learned, and to identify action items that will improve teaching and learning.  Responsibility for follow-up is assigned to individual faculty members.  The data collected and each department’s final report are shared with the appropriate senior-level institutional administration. Follow-up on the action items occurs in the spring semester and is documented in the spring semester report to the Provost’s Office.

Semi-annual reports to the Provost’s Office detail the cycle of assessment for the programs scheduled to be evaluated in a given calendar year. The following spring report follows up on any action items identified during the fall report and indicates any additional opportunities for improvement of the process. The Assistant Provost and Assessment Liaison discuss the reports, the data, and the action items. Eastman School of Music assessment reports will be found in the exhibit room as well as sample reports in Appendix TBA.

Eastman has its own in-house Humanities faculty, and the specific general education requirements have been approved by the National Association of Schools of Music.  In sum, students take one common freshman writing course in the fall of their freshman year (FWS 121), where as part of the course, department faculty assess written and oral communication skills.  The assessments have been conducted since 2010, and the department faculty continue to refine the assessment tool used yearly.

Overwhelmingly, the freshman writing faculty have found that Eastman students have outstanding written and oral communication skills (only 2.4% of 120+ students failed to meet the established benchmark), however they sometimes struggle with the finer points of writing such as thesis development, citation skills, etc.  To address this concern, data from the freshman writing seminars have been triangulated with data from the Eastman Writing Center, where students work with writing counselors on a more individual basis.  This information has been used to identify the need for and implement greater numbers of workshops in thesis development, citation, building a persuasive argument, etc.

The NASM stipulates that 25-35% of the undergraduate coursework in Music should be general studies.  Eastman completed the self-study process for reaccreditation in fall of 2012, and anticipates full reaccreditation in summer of 2014.  As a result, the programs are in line with the balance of coursework required by the school’s accreditor.

Eastman’s Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Assessment is responsible for ensuring that a process of continuous improvement takes place across the school, and that each program measures student learning goals.  Data collection occurs in the spring and is archived in the Office of Academic Affairs.  In addition, data from Admissions and the Registrar’s Office are requested as needed.  Faculty for the Music Academic Core (Music Theory and Music History) are in the process of developing systematic methodologies for ensuring data collection at the course level.  Undergraduate jury results are reported to the Office of Academic Affairs by each department’s administrative assistants.

All programs at Eastman have adopted the NASM Student Learner Competencies for program level student learning assessment.  In addition, all data are collected in the Office of Academic Affairs, and faculty review the data for specific programs on a rotating basis.

Institutional research data are reviewed over a five year period, while specific student learning outcomes assessment data has been available since 2010.  Reports encompassing all data are produced by the Director of Assessment on a three-year rotating cycle based on the degree level.  Faculty whose programs are being evaluated attend a departmental forum in order to review and discuss the data, and decide on any action items they deem appropriate.  The action items that improve current academic programs and lifelong learning opportunities for students are assigned to a faculty member or the department chair to investigate or implement, and the Director of Assessment documents the outcome of the action items in a subsequent report.  

Eastman continues to seek opportunities to communicate learning objectives to students (both program level and course level).  The Director of Assessment recently consulted with the Department of Musicology to ensure that all courses have program and course level learning goals available to students on the course syllabi.  Music Education and Music Theory have developed learning goals that are readily available to students on the course syllabi.  The music performance areas of the school recently added learning goals to all faculty syllabi.

Questions about student learning assessment at Eastman should be directed to Dr. John Hain, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs and Director of Assessment.   Dr. Hain can be reached by email at jhain@esm.rochester.edu, or by phone at 585.274.1020.