2003 English Department External Review Self-Study


English Graduate Program: 1998 - 2002

(Please refer to black file box entitled "Graduate Program" for documents and supporting materials)

1. Program Quality

All SCSU Graduate Programs are guided by North Central's Quality Indicators. These indicators (in italics) and evidence of by the English Department Graduate Program are as follows:

  • Admissions
    Students seeking unconditional admission to St. Cloud State University have attained a 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of their undergraduate program. The English department lists as entrance criteria: "For unconditional admission to the MA degree, the applicant must have completed not less than 24 semester hours of undergraduate credit in English, exclusive of general education courses, and must meet the admission standards as required by the graduate studies office" (Graduate Bulletin 70 or refer to web site http://bulletin.stcloudstate.edu/gb/ ).
  • Academic Standards
    Graduate students maintain a minimum of 3.0 cumulative GPA in graduate studies
    . English department graduate student GPAs are checked at the end of each grading period. Teaching Assistantships are dropped if GPA falls under 3.0.

    Admitted students enrolled in programs are tracked to determine if at least 60% successfully complete a program of study. In some cases, students may change graduate programs but completions of any graduate program at SCSU is considered success.

    By charting culminating projects, we track the number of students successfully completing our graduate program (Refer to folder entitled "Application, Admissions and Completed Projects")

    Program has a clearly articulated statement of purpose . The English graduate program dovetails with SCSU's Graduate Mission as stated in the 2 000-2002 Graduate Bulletin , " The graduate studies programs at SCSU have the mission of providing high quality, accessible graduate programs that are responsible to the need for professional development and educational enrichment" (7). Further statements of purpose are found in the English Department Strategic Plan. (Refer to Strategic Plan: web.stcloudstate.edu/sorundquist/engplan.htm or see the folder entitled "Strategic Plan")

    Program provides a statement of features that distinguish it from similar degree programs.
    1. The English graduate program offers teaching and/or tutoring opportunities for most qualified full time graduate students. Our graduate teaching assistants have the opportunity to teach an equivalent of a 4-credit course or tutor. TAs can experience as many as three of these opportunities during their graduate program.
    2. The English graduate program offers a variety of emphases within the graduate program. These choices ensure that our students are prepared for a variety of post-graduate pursuits including graduate school, teaching English as a Foreign Language overseas, public school advancement, community college teaching, professional writing, and non-academic careers.
    3. The English graduate program offers professional development sessions for graduate students, conference registration/travel funds, and opportunities to present at regional, state, and national/international conferences.
    4. The English graduate program offers internships in Technical and Community Colleges and in businesses.
    5. The English graduate program offers internships in teaching composition and literature at SCSU under the direct supervision of a mentor teacher.
    6. SCSU offers a faculty to student ratio that allows individual attention and strong faculty/student connections (NCHEMS NCES IPEDS Fall survey 1999-2000).
    (Refer to folder entitled "Distinguishing Features")
  • Curriculum
    Graduate course of study includes a core program Each English MA or MS student in the program takes three core courses: one 600 level British Literature, one 600 level American Literature course, and one 600-level Research course. Core courses in programs are offered yearly. Graduate students in the TESL MA are required to take a 600-level Theories course and a 600-level Methods course plus 2 Linguistics courses. Our department is committed to offering all graduate courses in a rotating two-year cycle. (Refer to folder entitled "Courses Offered")

    Graduate-only courses constitute at least 50 percent of the credits earned in each degree . The Graduate Bulletin, English section, states, "A minimum of 18 credits must be earned in courses limited to graduate students." That number constitutes half of the required 36 credits. In fact, our students take well over the 50% as shown by the program forms that are filed.

    An internal review of graduate programs and curricula occurs at least every five years . Our department has no formal, written internal review since 1992, but we reviewed the graduate program during a departmental retreat in 1998 when we switched to semesters. At this time, we combined some courses, limited choices, and moved toward offering each graduate course within a two-year interval. Each semester we try to balance our offerings in Literature, Rhetoric/Composition, TESL, Linguistics, and Research.

    An assessment plan is part of the graduate program . Formal, programmatic assessment is linked to North Central quality indicators. For graduate students, these include GPA, summative/formative assessments within courses, and a culminating experience whether it be a thesis, teaching portfolio, starred papers, or creative thesis. Some follow-up program data is collected through the use of the Riverview Reporter , a newsletter to alumni, a graduate student survey in 2001, and a Classroom Assessment Technique - CAT - in the summer of 2002. (Refer to folder entitled "Assessments").

    Students are encouraged to take at least one related course outside of their program of study. This suggested indicator serves to develop a relationship with a professor who could serve as an outside thesis reader. The English MS requires three cognate courses in Education, MA students are free to select a course in another area if they wish. The TESL MA students have the option of Education courses.
  • Culminating Experience
    Graduate students participate in a culminating experience with a written component. The English department offers students a choice of a thesis, a teaching portfolio, starred papers or a creative work.
    (Refer to folder entitled "Guidelines for Culminating Experiences")
  • Faculty
    An appropriate faculty committee reviews graduate faculty appointment every five years . In the English Department, we have a teaching "pool" system where each faculty member submits qualification to teach particular graduate courses. The Graduate Steering Committee reviews requests on a yearly basis. Faculty members are reviewed on four criteria: dissertation area, teaching experience, graduation preparation, and research/scholarship. (Refer to folder entitled "Graduate Teaching Pool") SCSU also has an intensive faculty review process in place. Contractual Articles 22 and 25 cover this process. Reviewers can also refer to faculty vitae for publications and presentations of graduate faculty.

    Mentoring of graduate students is part of the graduate faculty commitment to student success. New entering teaching assistants attend a one week orientation to teaching and the graduate program. Then they meet weekly with faculty directors and participate in the community mentoring seminar course. The English Department provides Professional Development Sessions for graduate students throughout their program. Initially, a new entering graduate student is advised by the graduate director who has 1/4 reassigned time for advising. Once an area of study or emphasis is decided, the graduate student files an advisor change form and is mentored by that faculty member. A type of mentorship/initiation to the program occurs in English 606, the research course. Mentoring also occurs with the election of two graduate student representatives to the Graduate Steering Committee. These students take issues from the committee to other graduate students and issues from graduate students to faculty. Some travel and conference registration funding is available for graduate students, and faculty read and respond to conference abstracts and advise students on career options. (Refer to folder entitled "Professional Development." This folder also includes an agenda of the one-week TA orientation.)

    Adjunct faculty teach no more than 25 percent of the graduate courses offered within a graduate program . Within the English Department, no adjunct faculty teach in the Graduate Program.
  • Facilities and Equipment
    Appropriate faculty committee evaluates national standards for their graduate programs and requests from the appropriate administrative unit that library facilities, collections of monographs and journals, and computer labs and systems all meet these standards . Each professor in the graduate program is responsible for overseeing library holdings related to specific areas of emphasis. Our department is allotted a specific amount for acquisitions. We try to order based on priority, but funding is difficult. Increasingly rich on-line data bases provide high quality information. (Refer to folder entitled "Allocation for Book and Non-Print Items")

    Programs evaluate and recommend updates to their library and equipment needs at least every two years . This is perhaps an area needing the most work. A university-wide committee evaluates technological needs for campus labs. Riverview computer rooms, faculty and TA computers are updated on a priority basis dependent on allotted funds.

    While the North Central guidelines do not refer to physical facilities, it should be noted that our graduate TAs recently moved from an unacceptable location in the basement of Shoemaker Hall to offices in either Riverview or Eastman Hall which provide a better work environment, cleaner surroundings, and better furniture. These arrangements also provide better interaction between/among TAs and faculty members. While office spaces are shared by TAs, computers are provided for each space. Riverview itself is on the list of renovation projects. When funding becomes available, the English department and TAs will move to Centennial Hall.

2. Program Need

The need for TESL grows with Minnesota 's changing demographics. Due to this factor, graduate students entering the TESL program increases. TAships in ESL and IEC provide excellent experience and a synergy among theoretical course work, practical experience and reflection.

In the past few years, many graduate students have selected an emphasis in college teaching or rhetoric and applied writing. Either emphasis has been shown to be highly regarded by the Minnesota community and technical colleges that hire our graduates. TAships in the Write Place and English 191 provide a synergy among theoretical course work, practical experience, seminars, and reflection.

Due to increased retirements in area school districts, we also see a growing number of area English teachers who wish to pursue master's degrees after their their positions become tenured.

Program need can also be interpreted as a question of what we, the English Department, need to insure continuing excellence of program. We need an increased TA stipend and full tuition remission to remain competitive. We need funded positions to replace graduate faculty who retire. We need resources and technical support. We always need to consider marketing strategies so we have students in the program.

Teaching Assistantships

1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003
f = 35
s= 35 f =37
s=34 f = 34
s=34 f=38
s=35 f=42

These numbers represent our full time graduate students. During most semesters, we range from 14-20 part time graduate students. There are at least 60 part-time TESL students alone.

The following charts the percentage of students in each program:

  1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

(not yet available )

General MA 30% 30% 30% 7% 30%  
Rhetorical 15% 6% 12% 7% 20%  
TESL 40% 36% 24% 70% 30%  
College Eng NA 12% 12% 7% 10%  
MS 10% 18% 18% 7% 10%  

3. Appropriateness and Contribution of the Program

Our masters programs provide ESL teachers and teachers in technical and community colleges. The programs offer higher degrees for licensed English teachers. Some of our graduates continue on to PhD programs. Typical outcomes for our students include work in other countries, work as technical and creative writers, and advancement within existing jobs and careers. Graduates who are flexible about work locations or desired PhD programs are more likely to find placement than those who are more narrowly selective. In the past two years, five of our graduates have been hired at the local Technical College and three at the Alexandria Technical College . In the past five years, our graduates have been hired at Anoka Ramsey, Hennepin, Century, and Ridgewater Community College . Other graduates from our program continue on for PhDs (refer to folder entitled "Past Graduates").

4. Cost of the Program

This year, with 42 TAs the costs were nearly $300,000. We receive approximately $86,250 from the Graduate Office and another $202,500 from Academic Affairs/Fine Arts and Humanities. These costs are for TAs only. The amounts do not factor in paper and printing costs, offices, computer needs, increased secretarial demands, and phone use. The amount does not factor in the graduate director's salary.

Intensive English Center Teaching Assistantships 2002-03: $78,750.

Additional IEC contribution, which goes directly to the Graduate Office, amounts to approximately $7000/year for tuition remission.

These costs are offset significantly, however. Teaching Assistants regularly teach many sections of English 191 and ESL each year. Since TAs teach 30 sections of 25 students each during the present year, the graduate program brings in $330,000 for 191 alone. ESL courses would improve on that figure. That sum also does not take into account the additional per-student gain SCSU receives from the state in tuition subsidy. E ven if the program only broke even, without the graduate assistants to teach ESL and 191 SCSU would need to hire full-time salaried instructors to teach the same number of courses.

5. Future Directions

  1. Writing Across the Curriculum. The recent "Priority Strategic Goals" report states, "There is growing demand for programs in professional areas, particularly professional technical areas, health, and education" (MDES Report). This item specifically impacts our masters programs that emphasize education. It also impacts the projected need for a graduate level rhetoric course (perhaps 531) which will be required for the proposed Masters in Nursing. The need for the applied program of rhetoric and applied writing will continue.
  2. Technologies. The "Priority Strategic Goals" report states, "The University will use appropriate service technologies that support teaching, learning, research and scholarship, creative and service activities." The English department offers a few on-line graduate courses in writing and linguistics. We need to continue to offer courses with synchronous communication (a fall 2002 course had graduate students logging on from Rochester , St. Paul , Big Lake , Duluth , and Minneapolis ) and examine visual rhetoric and computers in English Studies. We will continue to make education accessible and further examine distributed learning.
  3. Diversity. We need to increase recruitment of graduate students from other geographic regions of the United States . Petersons.com offers marketing to a larger population. Word of mouth from past students attracts many Asian students. We need to examine our market. Data from the Graduate Office shows that the current population from which we draw students will decrease by 23% over the next ten years.
  4. Marketing. Current marketing strategies include the Graduate Fair, a new admissions/recruiting director, web sites, Petersons.com, targeted mailing lists, and MCTE and MnTESL conference flyers. The graduate steering committee is revising brochures. We need to revise our English web site. Personal contact by another graduate student or a professor seems to draw the most people to our program, so all faculty members need to recruit and encourage. (Refer to folder entitled "Marketing Materials").
  5. IFO Support. Some outside forces seem negative toward graduate education, but some department faculty have been proactive about anticipating problems. One department member was recently elected to an IFO Graduate Education Task Force whose purpose is increasing support and funding for graduate education in Minnesota.
  6. Stipends and Tuition Remission. While these are controlled by the administration, the Graduate dean at SCSU placed a priority on increasing graduate TA stipends by $500.00 each year and on working toward full tuition remission. These changes will attract more students.

    TA stipends
    98 99 00 01 02
    $4500 $5000 $6000 $7000 $7500-8500

  7. TYCA Preparation. At the November 2002 NCTE Fall Conference, a draft of "The Guidelines for the Education of Two-Year College Teachers" was presented. NCTE research shows a strong TYC hiring market due to many retirements. The guidelines promote a well-rounded preparation of community college teachers that includes : composition/rhetoric, literature, technology, second language learning, and pedagogy courses. We need to examine the possibility of requiring more pedagogy (perhaps English 551) and also some ESL course within the Teaching of College English and/or Rhetoric and Applied Writing emphases. (Of note: A past SCSU graduate student, now employed at a Fort Lauderdale Community College, served on this guideline committee and drafted document language).
  8. Varied TA/GA experiences. We should more fully encourage varied TA/GA experiences to prepare students for careers. ( i.e Students wanting to teach for community colleges will benefit from administrative GAships . Those who wish to pursue PhDs would benefit from research and editorial assistantships).
  9. Follow-up. We need to participate in ongoing assessment of the graduate program and better follow our graduates once they leave SCSU so we can chart their employment and/or further academic work. A survey should be mailed to students who graduated in the past five years (Refer to folder entitled "Graduate Survey").
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