the evidence of transformation



Knowledge and Application
Learning assessment in the Journalism Program
Sheila Tefft, Senior Lecturer in Journalism,
Program Director, 2000-2009

Learning to Follow the Butterfly
How dynamic learner outcomes helped me to be a better teacher

Gordon D. Newby, Professor and Chair, Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies

At the Heart of Learning
Assessing graduate student education in the biological sciences

Keith Wilkinson, Director, Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical
Sciences, and Professor of Biochemistry


Vol. 12 No.1
Oct.Nov 2009

Return to Contents

Digital Scholarship Comes of Age
New questions about credibility, modes, and readership

A growing array

“People are experiencing the world through multiple media. That may mean we need to think about different forms of scholarship.”

“In terms of shaping scholarship, the technologist needs the scholar, and the scholar needs the technologist.”

The Evidence of Transformation
Three faculty
experiences of learning outcomes assessment

Knowledge and Application
Learning assessment in the Journalism Program

Learning to Follow the Butterfly
How dynamic learner outcomes helped me to be a better teacher

At the Heart of Learning
Assessing graduate student education in the biological sciences


Journalism students need to be critical thinkers, academically and professionally. So how do we assess learning that leads to critical thinking with direct application in the professional world? In the new environment of multimedia journalism, students must know the fundamentals and employ them in professional practice.

In the Emory Journalism Program, students combine journalism studies with a major in the liberal arts and sciences or business. News reporting and writing are cornerstones of the journalism classroom. Proficiency in editing, news style, punctuation, grammar, and spelling go hand-in-hand with writing skills.

Journalism history, ethics, and law are additional priorities, laid down when journalism education was revived at Emory in 1996. Students learn the fundamentals with the technology and formats needed to write and report news for different media.

The Journalism Program will complete its first assessment of these learning goals during the 2009-2010 academic year. The assessment will focus on both students’ knowledge of journalism and ability to apply that knowledge meaningfully in their careers.

Powerful journalism starts with strong reporting and writing. The faculty will examine news feature projects in beginning news reporting and writing classes to judge student progress. We will be looking for the measures of proficiency in journalistic writing: organizing a story, writing the lead, and reporting with balance, completeness, and accuracy. Students also will need to demonstrate precision in style, spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
Knowledge of historical trends, ethical principles, and legal precepts in journalism are important tools for students in the professional world.

Journalists wrestle with ethical dilemmas constantly. The Internet is blurring long-standing precedents of media law. The faculty will evaluate a selection of student papers from required courses in history, ethics, and communications law to test student analytical skills in the classroom and, in turn, their preparation for professional newsrooms beyond: Can students examine ethical issues thoughtfully and make the decisions journalists face every day? Do they understand professional media standards involving truth, accuracy, fairness, and objectivity? Can they connect historical themes, such as the news media’s watchdog relationship with the government, to contemporary issues? Can they read a case and identify the legal issues? Do they understand and respect First Amendment freedoms?

Our final endeavor will involve collecting student self-assessments and suggestions in a questionnaire to be completed in the journalism capstone course. Among the questions:

• Do you feel you have the knowledge and skills to think critically about news developments?

• Can you competently report a news story and ask pertinent questions?

• How well did your education integrate the liberal arts and
sciences with journalism fundamentals?

• Assess your skills to tell stories in multimedia formats.

• Assess your comfort and versatility with web, audio, and video technologies and your ability to expand your technical skills in the future.

• Assess your ability to make ethical and legal decisions within the context of your journalistic work.

The world of journalism is in the midst of a confused but exciting transition. Assessing how well Emory journalism students learn will tell us not only the effectiveness of journalism instruction. It will signal this new generation’s readiness to perform professionally and shape the challenging future.