Review of the Philosophy Department

by the Academic Program  Review Committee

January 2005

 

Part 1: Documents Relevant to the APR Committee’s Report

[1.1] Self-Study Report by the Philosophy Department

 

[1.2] Unit data Sheet by the Office of Institutional Research

 

[1.3] Report of the External Consultant

 

[1.4] Departmental Response to the External Review

 

[1.5] Dean’s Summary Report

 

Part 2: The APR Committee’s Report to the Faculty Senate

[2.1] Summary of Program Goals and Objectives

 

[2.2] Summary of How the Academic Program Attempts to Reach its Goals and Objectives and How Those Goals and Objectives Have Been Achieved

 

[2.3] Summary of Program assessment and the Results of Attempts to Measure Student Learning

 

[2.4] Significant Resource Concerns

 

[2.5] Report of How the Program Has Responded to the Recommendations by the Previous APR Committee

 

[2.6] The APR Committee’s Recommendations (January 2005)

 

Appendixes

Appendix 1: Unit Data Sheet by the Office of Institutional Research

 

Appendix 2: The Academic Program Review Committee’s Summary of the External Review of the Programs of the Philosophy Department at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse, May 21, 2003


 

Part 1: Documents Relevant to the APR Committee’s Report

[1.1] Self-Study Report by the Department of Philosophy


 

[1.2] Unit data Sheet by the Office of Institutional Research

 

 

 

[1.3] Report of the External Consultant


 

[1.4] Departmental Response to the External Review


 

[1.5] Dean’s Summary Report


 

Part 2: The APR Committee’s Report to the Faculty Senate

(January 2005)


 

Part 2: The APR Committee’s Report to the Faculty Senate

(January 2005)

 

[2.1] Summary of Program Goals and Objectives:

 

1.   excellence in teaching philosophy courses which maintain and enhance the general studies curriculum of the university

2.   excellence in teaching philosophy courses of sufficient depth and breadth to support both a high quality major and minor in philosophy

3.   excellence in advising, training and mentoring of philosophy majors and minors

4.   excellence in service to the college, university, region and to the discipline of philosophy.

5.   excellence in fostering critical thinking and intellectual development

6.   excellence in developing ethical, multicultural, multi-gender and international awareness

7.   excellence in research in philosophy and in interdisciplinary efforts involving philosophy for students and faculty

 

[2.2] Summary of How the Academic Program Attempts to Reach its Goals and Objectives and How Those Goals and Objectives Have Been Achieved

 

The extent to which the department of philosophy has achieved all its goals and objectives is impressive, and the members of the department have integrated teaching, service, and research thoughtfully and resourcefully. Some of their accomplishments include the following:

1.      maintained and enhanced the general studies curriculum of the university by housing one major and three minors while contributing to six programs on campus as well as to General Education

2.      taught philosophy courses of sufficient depth and breadth and advised, trained, and mentored the students by making available PHL 496, Integrative Seminar, by helping two to three students to receive Undergraduate Research Grants every year for the past several years, and by offering undergraduates Teaching Assistantships (TA) in relation to PHL 497, Philosophical Apprenticeship

3.      serviced the college, the university, and the region and fostered intellectual development, ethical awareness, philosophical diversity and dialogue by exemplifying broad and diverse approaches to philosophy and by doing all this with only five full-time faculty members

Since Dr. Miller’s retirement, the department has hired Dr. Sheryl Ross, who is committed to teaching, research, and service. The hiring of Dr. Ross, the recent addition of PHL 230, Multicultural Philosophy in the United States, the TA program, the guidance for students who participate in Undergraduate Research, and the regular rotation of upper-level philosophy courses among the faculty members are some examples that testify to the department members’ commitment to teaching and service being informed by and integrated with research. All of these practices require that they keep abreast with developments in the field of Philosophy.

 

[2.3] Summary of Program assessment and the Results of Attempts to Measure Student Learning

 

Donald A. Cress, the external reviewer, states in his report that “the Department is deeply committed to assessing its program through sustained conversation with students.” This is very true. With its course offerings for General Education, the department addresses five of the six areas of competencies stated in the current draft of General Education Student Learning Outcomes: critical thinking skills, ability to integrate knowledge, aesthetic perspective, understanding of diversity, and ethical decision making. The department measures these outcomes through student evaluations and by encouraging written student input on course instruction. For its majors, the department regularly uses questionnaires that graduating seniors complete, interviews that students in the Integrative Seminar (PHL 496) conduct with department faculty, and reports that the Seminar students complete on the major.

Incorporating the suggestion by Dean Cress, the department has started to consider how other philosophy departments in the nation have conducted capstone courses especially in terms of purpose and outcomes and how their assessment has been planned and conducted in general. The department is also considering the possibility of using the portfolio assessment method.

 

[2.4] Significant Resource Concerns

 

1.      Continue to seek more space.

 

2.      Work with the library for better response to program’s resource needs.

 

3.      Push for computer cart.

 

 

[2.5] report of How the Program Has Responded to the Recommendations by the Previous APR Committee

 

The Philosophy Department was last reviewed by the APR in 1994, at which time three concerns and recommendations were expressed. The philosophy department has responded to these recommendations as follows:

1.   The department had difficulty offering certain upper-level courses as frequently as desired. In response to this concern, the department has periodically reduced the number of Introduction to Philosophy sections offered—especially in the spring— in order to increase the number of upper-level courses. As a result, more upper-level courses are offered at least once every four semesters, or at least every five semesters. The department recognizes that certain courses should be offered every year, as is customary at most serious comprehensive universities. To do so, however, would require additional staffing.

2.   The department should continue to work with other departments whose students would profit from courses in Philosophy. The department has followed this recommendation, working with the pre-law advisor, the pre-med club and advisor, and criminal justice advisor, allied health and other department and programs in order to get pre-professional students into Philosophy courses that will serve them. The department has also supported the University Honors program and has developed, or plans to develop, several interdisciplinary courses. The emphasis is on offering specialized courses in ethics and values to students in various disciplines, including medicine, law, and business.

3.   The department should continue to make efforts to increase the number of students in the major and minor programs. The numbers of majors and minors in philosophy have increased significantly since the 1994 program review. The number of majors and minors has more than doubled, to 47 and 30, respectively, for spring 2003. The percentage of philosophy majors is around eight times the one-per-thousand-students ratio typically found at universities. The department feels that some of this increase can be attributed to the increasing quality of UW–L students.

 

[2.6] The APR Committee’s Recommendations (January 2005)

 

1.      Develop justification for faculty development grant (electronic portfolio project is one idea).

 

2.      Develop/employ more direct forms of assessing student learning in order that goals and objectives can be measured more thoroughly.

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix I: Unit Data Sheet by the Office of Institutional Research

 


Appendix II: The Academic Program Review Committee’s Summary of the External Review of the Programs of the Philosophy Department at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse, May 21, 2003

Donald A. Cress, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UW-Parkside, visited the Department of Philosophy and completed a review in May of 2003.  At that time, he highlighted the following strengths of the program:

  • Outstanding success in its “significant and powerful” service to the UW-L campus manifest in its offerings to General Education, the College core, and several interdisciplinary programs.
  • The quality of students and the array of opportunities available to them:   supervised research, an integrative seminar, TA options, organized presentations

and discussions.

  • The diverse interests and competencies of the faculty, who, in spite of their small

      numbers (5), mentor the students and allocate the program’s efforts with great

“sensitivity and savvy.”

  • The ongoing engagement in self-evaluation and in concerted efforts to improve

the quality of all activities.

 

Cress noted these program challenges:

  • A delicate balance between the high morale of the faculty and the high demands

placed on them.

  • Meager library support, especially concerning the notification of monograph

purchases, cancellation of paper journals in favor of on-line versions, and a

            reluctance to accept faculty-donated journals.

  • The department’s space problem:  classroom space, small offices with small, high,

or NO windows; outdated PC’s

 

Cress also commented on recent development in the program:

  • The apprenticeship course and various internships in the community
  • The integrative seminar
  • A new course in Multicultural Philosophy

 

Cress’s recommendations included the following:

  • Forget hiring a 6th faculty member but hang on to the 5th position when next

retirement occurs.

  • Lobby for faculty development opportunities and get more publications in

refereed journals.

  • Remedy the slippage between senior and junior faculty where SCH/FTE’s are

concerned.

  • Abandon plans for new graduate courses for other programs (slash courses are

feasible).  Proceed with plans for a Religious Studies minor only ife it is an interdisciplinary program that would draw from courses in other departments and not place any undue burden on the philosophy department.  Add no new major track in Applied Ethics; rather, develop a Certificate program involving some external constituency/internship possibilities.   This could be a culminating feature of the Philosophy Apprenticeship.

  • Let others advise undecided majors.
  • Develop more off-campus internship opportunities.
  • Develop more direct measurement of student learning beyond student in-put.
  • Obtain 2 new university-compatible PC’s.
  • Rearrange the student seminar room; large table takes up too much space.