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University of North Carolina School of the Arts Learning Outcomes

Assessment is the systematic collection of data, review of information, and use of knowledge about programs for the purpose of improving student learning and development. At University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA), assessment is ongoing and procedures are in place for the annual review of degrees and programs for student learning and development improvement.

Assessment at UNCSA is a broad activity that requires deans and faculty to examine whether a curriculum needs to change or improve based on the assessment data collected. The process ensures programs producing graduates with the knowledge, skills and values that a UNCSA graduate should possess.

There are four phases for effective assessment at UNCSA. One is to have clearly stated learning outcomes, which define what the school intends to produce in regard to student learning. These outcome statements are clear, concise, observable, and measurable objectives. Secondly, faculty develops plans for assessing students' achievement of learning outcomes and collects direct and indirect student learning data. Thirdly, faculty at each school conducts assessments and reports the results annually. And fourthly, for assessment to be meaningful, the results of the assessment have been used for program/curriculum improvement.

The Division of Liberal Arts (DLA) at UNCSA focuses its student learning outcome (SLO) on written communication and critical thinking skills.

Student learning is evaluated on these learning outcomes through participation in class discussions, tests, papers, and presentations. DLA collects survey data on student perceptions of the Liberal Arts academic program. It also adapted AAC&U Written Communication rubric to evaluate students written communication skills. In Spring 2015, the HEIghten Outcomes Assessment tests developed by ETS in conjunction with the UNC system were administered. Both Written Communication and Critical Thinking tests will be administered again in Spring 2016. DLA obtained the 2015 test results on those participating students. DLA reviews all the evaluation information and makes necessary adjustments to its curriculum, teaching materials, and/or instructional methods.

Each art school also developed its SLO at program level and by discipline. School of Dance at UNCSA develops professionally refined and versatile dancers, who are rigorously trained in classical and contemporary dance. The program’s SLOs include professional readiness, technical proficiency, and creative collaboration. These SLOs are evaluated through written exams and written and verbal feedback from the faculty and dean to guarantee continual improvement toward their technical and artistic mastery. Students also have the opportunity to provide feedback for courses and faculty, giving the school valuable information needed to make positive changes to its training and programs each year. A large component of SLOs for the School of Dance are the many performance opportunities provided to develop a deep sense of discipline, physical stamina, spatial awareness, emotional self-awareness, character development, and the mental acuity required by all athletes and dancers in the professional world today.

School of Design and Production (D&P) has the following general SLOs: professional readiness, professional communication, and creative collaboration. D&P conducts program assessment and evaluation annually by discipline (Costume Design and Technology, Lighting, Scene Design, Scene Painting, Scenic Technology, Theatre Sound Design, Stage Management, Stage Properties, and Wig and Make-up). D&P also conducts yearly Student Portfolio Review where all D&P students present their best class work and employment portfolios for faculty review at the end of the school year. In addition, all D&P students go through a rigorous evaluation system each semester, where their work, collaboration and participation in theatrical productions on campus are evaluated both by the faculty and their peers. Based on the information from faculty expert opinions, industry feedback, evaluation of recent student abilities, and other data available, changes to improve student learning and D&P program have been made. These changes could be new course, new content for existing course, new program requirements, new technology, new extra-curricular activities, new course materials, and even faculty replacement.

School of Drama at UNCSA trains talented young men and women to be exciting, versatile and accomplished professionals. Creating a role, voice and speech flexibility, and professional preparedness are the general SLOs. The school emphasizes classical values in its training to meet a well-recognized demand for actors to be technically skilled and creatively inspired. Students should be able to: show kinesthetic awareness by demonstrating dance and stage combat skills; display flexibility in the speaking voice; demonstrate the ability to integrate acting techniques and appropriate musical styles in studio and performance projects; acquire collaborative skills to work effectively on a professional level in studio and performance projects with directors, fellow actors, stage managers, designers, technicians and all parties who participate in the process of bringing a production to realization; and develop a working knowledge of the profession and expectations of the industry. The assessment data are collected through final projects, skill exams, written faculty assessments, one-on-one conferences, and other data available. Based on the assessment results, School of Drama identified its weak area(s) and made improvements to its program. For instance, the insertion of a course in acting for the camera gives 3rd and 4th year students valuable experience auditioning before the camera as well as applying the acting process to the specific demands of film and television. Graduates are now better prepared for professional auditions which have already manifested in increased job opportunities.

School of Filmmaking general SLOs are professional readiness, effective storytelling skills, creative collaboration, and comprehension of film history and aesthetics for its undergraduate program disciplines including: Animation, Cinematography, Directing, Picture Editing and Sound Design, Producing, Production Design, Screenwriting as well as Interdisciplinary Production. The assessment data are collected annually based on portfolio reviews, exams, papers, student assessment forms, peer reviews, and responses or feedback from faculty in related disciplines. Based on the assessment results, School of Filmmaking found that students time management skills in professional readiness and their ability to resolve conflicts in creative collaboration were not as good as expected. Thus, they started to emphasize the importance of time management skills across the curricula, both in production and in classroom, and also incorporate instruction in the curricula directed at helping students acquire skills in conflict resolution.

School of Music has five SLOs: critical artistic analysis, professional collaboration, professional literacy, professional readiness, and technical skills. School of Music developed a curriculum map showing the correlation of components of the curriculum to SLOs. The components of the curriculum include: private lessons and master classes, large ensembles, chamber music, performance opportunities, foundations of music classes, history of musical styles classes, career development seminar, support and specialty classes, and performance hour. The correlations between the components of the curriculum and SLOs are indicated by I (Introduced), P (Practiced), and/or R (Reinforced). SLOs are assessed through performances and/or final projects, skill exams, written faculty assessments, one-on-one conferences, and other measures, such as acceptance to graduate program or professional work and data from the Undergraduate Questionnaire, which was developed for the purpose of measuring student perception of program effectiveness across the breadth of the undergraduate curriculum. Students were asked to rate program effectiveness in direct relationship to the five SLOs and the effectiveness of various components of the curriculum. They were also asked to do a separate rating of the effectiveness of the faculty in each of these various components. Finally, they were provided the opportunity to provide commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of the program. These assessment data have been collected yearly. Longitudinal data analyses are provided in the annual program assessment report. The information has been used for program improvement when necessary.

UNCSA is a unique professional school for the performing, visual, and moving image arts, training students for professional careers in the arts. The assessment processes each art school adopts ensure the quality of the programs and the competitiveness of our graduates.  

There are many UNCSA alumni successful stories.  School of Dance has trained and graduated many award winning and leading-role dancers.  Here are just a few examples:

Peter Pucci, http://pucciplus.com/pucci.html

Camille Brown, http://www.camilleabrown.org/

Mark Dendy, http://www.markdendy.com/

Dwana Smallwood, http://www.guavaleaf.com/video/8340/CRY%20~%20Danced%20by%20Dwana%20Smallwood%20of%20Alvin%20Ailey



School of Design and Production has graduated many talents, such as Brian Sidney Bembridge, an American scenic and lighting designer for theater and film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Sidney_Bembridge) and Paul Tazewell, a costume designer for the theatre, dance, and opera.  He has received three Tony Award nominations for costume design and won many awards (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Tazewell).


School of Drama has been training talented actors and actresses.  Some of them are well-accomplished now including Anna Camp and Dane DeHaan (http://www.uncsa.edu/pressreleases/releases2013/January2013/OnesToWatch.htm). Another School of Drama graduate, Peter Hedges, a novelist, playwright and filmmaker, has been nominated for numerous awards (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0373282/awards).   


School of Filmmaking has graduated many successful directors, writers, producers, cinematographers, actors, editors, sound designers, production designers and film executives among others.  Here are some examples:

David Gordon Green (film director), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gordon_Green

Danny McBride (Actor/writer/Producer), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1144419/?ref_=sr_1

Tim Orr (cinematographer), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0650615/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

Jeff Nichols (writer/director), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2158772/?ref_=sr_1

Travis Beacham (writer), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2012438/?ref_=tt_ov_wr

Will Files (Sound Designer), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0276877/?ref_=fn_al_nm_6

At Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, more than 30 UNCSA alumni of School of Filmmaking and School of Drama worked on ten of the 115 films that were screened.  “It is truly remarkable for UNCSA to have this many alumni working on so many films screening at the Sundance Film Festival, ….  It is testament to the caliber of talent graduating from the School of the Arts,” said Interim Dean of Filmmaking Susan Ruskin

(http://www.uncsa.edu/pressreleases/releases2013/January2013/Sundance2013.htm).  In addition, UNCSA has connections to Academy Award nominees and winners in 2013 (http://www.uncsa.edu/pressreleases/releases2013/January2013/Awards.htm).


UNCSA School of Music has trained many professional musicians, such as pianist Elizabeth Roberts Sobol (http://www.uncsa.edu/pressreleases/releases2012/Nov2012/Sobol.htm)and  an accomplished concert singer, Gwendolyn Bradley (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwendolyn_Bradley).