Review of the Art Department

By the Academic Program  Review Committee

April 2005


1.      Documents relevant to the APR Committee’s report

1.1  Self-Study Report by the Art 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


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 (April 2005)



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 Art Department at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse April 26 and 27, 2004


1. Documents Relevant to the APR Committee’s Report

1.1 Self-Study Report by the Department of Art



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


2. The APR Committee’s Report to the Faculty Senate

(April 2005)


2. The APR Committee’s Report to the Faculty Senate

(April 2005)


2.1 Summary of program goals and objectives:

  • Emphasize excellence in the Art Major and Art Minor, the Broadfield Art Major, the Photography Minor, and the General Education program
    • For advanced art degrees beyond the BS/BA degree
    • For teaching art in K-12 programs
    • For employment requiring a practical understanding of art
  • Engage students in critical thought and dialogue
  • Expect and promote faculty scholarly activity (research, scholarship, creative endeavors) that supports the Department of Art
  • Serve as a cultural center for La Crosse and the surrounding Upper Mississippi Valley region through the gallery program and lectures
  • Promote the wide range of Art Studio, Art History, and Art Education offerings

o       Develop within the student an appreciation for art through ART 102

o       Provide an exhibition and lecture program with a diversity of visual information and lectures for students and for the surrounding community


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 Department of Art meets its goals through maintaining eight (8) active studio areas (Ceramics, Computer Art, Drawing, Metals, Painting, Photography, Printmaking, and Sculpture), an Art History curriculum, and the University Art Gallery. The most unique of all are its Photography program’s size and strength, which prepare the Art students for the 21st century.

            The annual exhibition program usually consists of six (6) major exhibitions and four to six (4-6) supplemental, smaller exhibitions and lectures, and the Art History curriculum emphasizes mainly Western art. Of the eight (8) studio areas, the Ceramics studio offers both wood kiln and salt kiln firing opportunities, a wide range of firing techniques that not all undergraduate programs have. In addition, the Printmaking studio is also distinctive in preparing students for graduate programs: “In the past four years six printmaking students have left UWL to pursue the MFA degree” (Self-Study 3).

            The faculty members in the Art Department have taught abroad (Austria, Italy, and Ireland) as well as traveled to other countries (Japan and England) so that their students could study art in situ. In addition, they have hosted conferences and workshops on Crafts, Blacksmithing, and Sculpture to broaden the scope of the students’ level of understanding.

            Finally, the department has also collaborated with the local K-12 programs, participated in the Young Scholars and Upward Bound programs, and worked with the Departments of Music and Theatre Arts on the Arts Connection and the Korean Mask Dance Theatre.


2.3 Summary of program assessment and the results of attempts to measure student learning


Overall, the Art Department has a thoughtful assessment plan, is carrying it out, and has produced meaningful results.  First, the Art Department assesses its programs through monitoring the following:

  • Placement of students in graduate programs
  • Student engagement in Undergraduate Research
  • The number of Art Education Majors who have obtained K-12 teaching positions
  • The enrollment of Art Appreciation
  • The diversity range of exhibits and lectures that students and the surrounding community are exposed to

Second, the department has implemented a formal, three-part assessment plan to measure student learning: a) Studio/Art History, b) Art Education, and c) General Education.

a)      For Studio/Art History, the department uses the portfolio system to assess the students’ progress.

    1. During the sophomore year and at the completion of the Foundations courses, the Foundations 1 & Foundations 2 instructor conducts the first portfolio review.
    2. At the end of Professional Practices (ART 399), each studio/media area faculty member uses his/her own specific studio/media criteria to measure “the technical and aesthetic skills used to develop direction in professional competency and expression” and to examine “the development of artistic vision and the students’ understanding/application of specific studio/media” (Self-Study 5)
    3. During the senior capstone experience, the Senior Exhibition (ART 499), a faculty reviewer selected by the senior gives an oral review that assesses the “senior’s development of artistic vision and technical abilities” (Self-Study 5)

b)      For Art Education, the department uses the guidelines by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to assess “the potential teacher’s ability to create experiences that make art meaningful for students” (Self-Study 6)

c)      For General Education, the department used, in 1997, pre- and post-tests to determine how well students could apply their understanding

In addition to this three-part plan, the Art Department also surveyed its alumni in March and April of 2003. With a 29% response rate (Mertens 8), the survey indicated that 84% of the respondents were satisfied with the Art program at UWL.

The external reviewer, Professor Robert Mertens, attests to the feasibility and effectiveness of the program’s continuous portfolio approach for assessing learning outcomes in the area of Studio/Art History. Professor Mertens points out also, however, as did the department members themselves during their recent retreat (January, 2005), that “adjudicated review by faculty beyond the discipline” (Mertens 13) should be integrated into the assessment process so that the results can be even more meaningful. In addition, the members of the Art Department also concur with Professor Mertens on that the sampling of the 2003 Alumni Survey was too small to warrant valid measure, and they know that it is necessary to revisit their assessment plans soon.


2.4 Significant resource concerns


Though pleased with Wing Technology Center renovations and their enhancement of the photography minor and with CLS-funded upgrades in various studios, the program still needs more space and increased funding. Faculty hope space may become available in the planned academic building, namely, when the Department of Communication Studies moves there and frees up some room in the Center for the Fine Arts.



2.5 Report of how the program has responded to the recommendations by the previous APR Committee


            In 1997, the APR Committee made several recommendations, and the Art Department has responded to them as follows.

a)      The lack of nonwestern art

The Art Department has added a multicultural art course, revised the art history courses to include non-western art, included non-western imagery in studio based courses, encouraged study abroad programs for the students, and displayed a variety of work in the Gallery (Self-Study 7). Professor Mertens points out, however, that the multicultural survey of art course “does not currently appear in the course sequence” or “is not included in the current course rotation” (18), and he urges the department to make Multicultural Art “available as an art history option, particularly for art education Broadfield majors” (10).

b)      The lack of computer lab

“The new computer lab became functional during the Fall of 2002 as a result of a lab modernization grant” (Self-Study 7).

c)      Low workload compared to other departments on campus

There is an increase in SCH from 200-222 to 278 SCH over the 5-year period.

d)      The need to obtain external support

The Art Department has obtained the following support within the university:

·        The newly renovated photography studios in Wing

·        The lab modernization for the computer graphics lab in the Center for the Arts

·        The upgrade of the department’s Art History/Art Appreciation lecture room in the summer of 2005

·        A new printing press

·        A new raku kiln and a slab roller from fundraising efforts

·        An outdoor iron foundry through a faculty research grant

·        A workshop fee for iron pours

e)      The decrease in the budget for supplies and expenses

The department has increased student course fees and has been reusing/recycling/salvaging materials.

f)       The need for a more up to date accounting of graduates

The department conducted an Alumni Survey in 2003 and is aware of the need to continue its effort in this area. (see 2.3 Assessment)

g)      The need to develop and implement an assessment plan for Art Appreciation (ART 102)

The department developed and implemented pre- and post-tests in 1997, and the members of the department indicated, during their recent retreat, that they would revisit their assessment plans.



2.6 The APR Committee’s recommendations (April 2005)


  • Include the non-Western art course in the course rotation.


  • Develop a clear distinction between course performance evaluation (a student’s total class activities, improvement, engagement, etc., within a given class structure in relation to specific course criteria and grade) and the assessment of the work itself in relation to the program at large.


  • Survey, more regularly, both the graduate and the employers of the graduates.


  • Update the curriculum to develop a process for waiving the foundation courses for art majors.


  • Develop recruitment strategies to take advantage of pre-College programs to strengthen entering student proficiency and discipline aptitude pool.


  • Seek FATE institution affiliation toward refinement of Foundations.


  • Form a standing faculty Safety Committee.


  • Consider formalizing the requirement of a computer art/graphics/technology course.


  • Consider adding an On-line component in Art Appreciation.





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 Art Department at the University of Wisconsin—La Crosse, April 26-27, 2004


Summary of Outside Reviewer’s Evaluation


Professor Robert Mertens (UW–Whitewater) made the following observations and recommendations, based on his visit of April 26–27, 2004 to the UW–L Art Department.


Professor Mertens received feedback from approximately 30 art students, who made a number of comments:

•     Foundations courses may be too simple and questionable as requirements.

•     Instructors and advisors were seen as very accessible and supportive.

•     Scheduling options are somewhat limited.

•     Work space needs to be expanded.

•     Overall, students felt positive about the department.


Based on his own observations, Professor Mertens made the following recommendations to the department:

•     Consider developing a BFA degree program.

•     Although the department provides good preparation for students planning to go into art education, the department should consider including more drawing instruction and requiring a computer graphics/technology course.

•     The department is supporting general education well. They might consider alternative delivery systems such as Desire2Learn, and instructor assignments could be consolidated to allow greater flexibility in course offerings.

•     The department serves the public well in their current gallery space, with six exhibitions per year; more student work could be exhibited with an additional public space on campus.

•     The department provides a well-rounded aesthetic experience through its curriculum and various major/minor programs. Still, given the necessarily limited number of major credit requirements, it may be helpful to consider adopting a more formal strategy that identifies and designates specific courses for particular skill reinforcement.

•     Student work from the Foundations area generally appearS overburdened in developmental expectations and limited in structural development. To remedy this situation, the art program should consider developing a stand-alone Foundations drawing course and expand its Foundations core offerings requirements to include 2D Design, 3D Design, and Introductory Drawing.

•     It may be advisable to channel students through appropriate Foundations courses as a prerequisite for area-specific enrollment so they will learn design principles sooner. Such a strategy might lessen duplication of effort in both Foundations and advanced coursework.

•     The department should consider joining the Foundations, Art, Theory and Education (FATE) organization and participating in its meetings.

•     Art Department faculty all possess a terminal degree and are active specialists in their respective fields. The typical workload involves small studio and large Foundations courses, resulting in lower SCH total but an increased course load and preparation expectation. The program should seek additional or redirected instructional support and develop revised or new position proposals into its projected staffing plan.

•     The department has developed a learning outcomes rubric for its Foundations courses. The department could strengthen its assessment by considering some sort of faculty group review or oral critique to which these assessments could be applied and reviewed with students for program evaluation. An exit interview with graduating students and alumni followups could provide additional useful information for program assessment.


Professor Mertens cited several strengths of the program, including

•     low student-to-instructor ratio

•     highly committed faculty members

•     dedicated faculty lines and full-time programming faculty

•     faculty development and travel support

•     professional practices course requirement

•     low advising ratio

•     photography area equipment, facilities, and offerings


Professor Mertens also cited a number of program weaknesses or disadvantages:

•     inadequate work and display spaces

•     issues with Foundations courses

•     limited GPR funding

•     lab fee assessments that may be too low to cover expenses

•     an aging and relatively small slide collection

•     recruitment of prospective majors that could be stepped up, especially with pre-college students

•     outdated equipment and/or personal equipment having to be donated by instructors

•     limited offerings in graphic design

•     no internal safety committee to monitor and assess studio safety procedures


He commented further on several areas of emphasis, including the following:

•     art history: a non-western offering has been developed but perhaps should be included in the regular course rotation.

•     ceramics: being exempt (as is Metals) from Foundations pre-requisites inadvertently promotes an asymmetrical program curriculum.

•     computer graphics: three courses are currently offered. The department might consider potential curricular partnerships with area institutions that could provide additional practicum opportunities to compensate for the limitations of UW–L’s program resources.

•     jewelry and metalsmithing: this is one of the most established areas of the program, with an active Metals Club.

•     painting: space and lighting are ongoing issues in this area; a moderate lab modernization project would be beneficial.

•     photography: instruction is offered in recently renovated facilities.

•     printmaking: students are mentored in communal and small collaborative workspaces.

•     sculpture: limited space appears to be a concern.


Overall Professor Mertens found that some issues noted in the 1997 APR report, specifically limited space and GPR support, appear to persist, while a number of significant improvements have occurred in other areas. In this era of severe budget constraints, the department needs to anticipate how to sustain its objectives and philosophical goals in order to deter erosion by external conditions. He concluded by acknowledging the art department’s great contribution to the culture and tradition of the college, campus, and community.