Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

3.6.2 Graduate Curriculum

The institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. (Graduate curriculum)

Judgment check box Compliance

Narrative

All Reinhardt University graduate programs are guided by “The Purposes of Graduate Study,” [1] which are published in the Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017.  These include principles for knowledge of the literature of the discipline and ongoing research:

The graduate programs at Reinhardt University prepare students to become confident leaders in their chosen disciplines with the following attributes:

  1. Mastery of the current literature, prevailing knowledge, and/or skill set of a specific discipline;
  2. Mastery of critical thinking through the practical application of theory;
  3. Mastery of skills to research a topic thoroughly;
  4. The ability to foster new knowledge in a discipline; and
  5. The strong communication skills necessary to present research.

Each graduate program defines its own learning outcomes. For example, the Master of Business Administration (MBA) maintains that graduates will demonstrate knowledge of the literature of the discipline with the ability to “apply best practices, established theories, and managerial skills to business situations and problems.” [2]   Similarly, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) has two relevant learning outcomes: the “ability to evaluate and analyze critical questions or problems currently facing the field of public administration and policy” and the “ability to analyze and interpret data and policy information, using various research methodologies and statistical techniques, to provide effective reasoning and make recommendations for decision making and policy creation.” [3]  The Master of Arts (MAT) in Early Childhood Education has the following learning outcomes:  The  degree candidate uses “knowledge of curriculum, learner differences, and ongoing assessment data” and “systematic formal/informal assessment as an ongoing diagnostic activity to measure student growth and to guide, differentiate, and adjust   instruction.” [4]  The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) has a learning outcome stated as “the ability to conduct and document scholarly research.”  [5] The Program Coordinator or Director of each degree program regularly assesses the learning outcomes in each program (discussed below under Assessment).

Throughout the graduate programs and within each program, students engage with literature of the discipline and learn to identify and implement authoritative research practices.  To this end, the Reinhardt University Hill Freeman Library and Spruill Learning Center has created a “Graduate Student Resources” portal on its homepage. [6]

Examples of Knowledge of the Literature of the Discipline and Ongoing Engagement in Research or Professional Practice

Reinhardt’s master’s-level courses require students to demonstrate advanced skills and knowledge. The following shortened course descriptions for eight classes represent a range of disciplines within the University as well as a range of positions of the courses throughout the programs: some courses are from the first semester; some from the middle semesters of a program; and some from the last semesters.  Therefore the engagement with research is ongoing.

Table 3.6.2-Sample Reinhardt University Graduate Courses Exemplifying Knowledge of Disciplinary Literature, Engagement in Research, Professional Practice

Graduate Program:    Master of Business Administration (MBA)
Course prefix and title Shortened Course description
BUS 610 -   Organizational Communication [7] - syllabus [8]

Semester: 1

This course is an examination of modern concepts of effective business communications. Discussions focus on the theoretical bases of communication, the communication process, communication skills, case analysis, and development and implementation of business communication strategies. Disciplinary literature

 

Professional practice

BUS 680 -
Global Management [9] - syllabus[10]Semester:  5
This course focuses on the key management operation issues in leading companies globally by examining multinational business strategies. … Students research and prepare an international business plan to introduce a product or a service in a specific country. Disciplinary literature

Research skills

Professional practice

Graduate Program:    Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education
Course prefix and title Shortened Course description
EDU 510 -
Transformative Change and Responsive Teaching [11] - syllabus [12]Semester:  1
The course will provide MAT candidates with a basic knowledge and understanding of the three basic tenets of differentiated instruction and the DATA Model that describes differentiated approaches for teaching and assessment. …. Course topics include educational philosophy, the history of education, Multiple Intelligences, Learning Styles, assessment, and reflective practice.

 

Disciplinary literature

 

 

EDU 550 -
Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment for Responsive Teaching [13] -  syllabus[ 14]Semester:  3
This course will examine differentiated curriculum, instructional strategies and the planning of instruction to support the diverse learning needs of students and to maximize learning. …Emphasis will be placed on adapting essential content, teaching practices, and student products based on assessment data to support students’ diverse learning needs and to maximize learning.

 

Disciplinary literature

Engagement with research

Graduate Program:    Master of Public Administration (MPA)
Course prefix and title Shortened Course description
MPA 610 - Research Methods [15] - syllabus

[16]
Semester:  1

Emphasizing the skills of data analysis and statistical inference, this course explores key issues in understanding and applying modern research to public management and policy making, including the use of theory and models, identifying causes, experiments and quasi experiments, the logic of control variables and the interpretation of multiple regression, measurement concepts and methods, qualitative methods, and sampling. The emphasis is on learning these ideas through practice with many different examples of real-world research and empirical evidence. Disciplinary literature

 

Engagement with research

Professional practice

MPA 615 -  Special Topics in Public Administration [17] - syllabus
[18]Semester:  4
This course introduces students to selective topics central to an administrator’s role in a government, private or nonprofit agency.  Students will explore grant writing, strategic planning, local government administration, economic development and intergovernmental relations/management.  The theoretical concerns and problems facing administrators as well as practical case studies representing current solutions are analyzed with each topic.  ...  Students, also, will develop policy strategies and a professional portfolio. Disciplinary literature

 

Engagement with research
Professional practice

Graduate Program:    Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing
Course prefix and title Shortened Course description
ENG 600 - Thesis Part I (6 credit hours): The Critical Essay on Craft, Individual Study  [19] (This course will be taught for the first time in fall semester 2017)

Semester:  5

In this class, students work one-on-one with a mentor in writing a 40-page critical essay on a craft element in the work of a selected writer in their genre.     The student will produce a research-based paper in which he or she crafts an original argument about the writer’s use of a certain craft element and supports his or her argument with quotations from scholarly secondary sources. …  .   The critical essay will be graded on the originality and complexity of the student’s analysis; the quality of the student’s research; the use of the conventions of academic writing, including organization,  structure,  quotations and citations; and the quality of the student’s prose, including elements such as syntax, diction and style.  … . Disciplinary literature

 

Engagement with research
Professional practice

 

ENG  - 610  Graduation Reading, Craft Seminar and Program Reflection (1 credit) [20]  (This course will be taught for the first time in summer semester 2018)

Semester:  7

At their final Residency, graduating students will give a public reading of their work in the evening as part of the Residency reading series.    Additionally, they will give a one hour lecture on a craft element based on their critical thesis.   Thirdly, as a capstone assessment, graduating students will write a five-page essay reflecting on their experiences and progress through their MFA program. Disciplinary literature

 

Engagement with research
Professional practice

Comprehensive Knowledge of the Discipline and Demonstrated Professional Practice

Each of Reinhardt’s master’s degree programs has a capstone requirement to demonstrate mastery of, and independent thought about literature of the discipline as well as appropriate professional practice.

In the MBA program, after each two courses, the student must prepare an oral presentation (Practicum) with a practical application of the advanced principles just learned to demonstrate independent thought about these principles.  These presentations are evaluated by business faculty and community professionals using a standardized evaluation form. [21] Each student must also give a final professional presentation about a project in the portfolio to a panel of business professionals [22], as illustrated by a sample MBA portfolio. [23]

Teacher candidates complete the MAT program with EDU 595 – Clinical Residency and Seminar.  The student’s work in the classroom is evaluated by a professional teacher as well as the university professor, [24], and the student must prepare an Induction Growth Plan. [25]

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) curriculum includes a Comprehensive MPA Examination.  [26] The examination consists of four essay questions which require students to demonstrate knowledge of core theories, ideas, and research within the Public Administration field.  In addition, MPA candidates have an internship or professional practice requirement, which they have to address in a final, capstone portfolio.  The professional portfolio, due in the last course of the program, consists of  1) the best MPA research paper, 2) a 15-page paper analyzing the candidate’s internship or professional experience including an application of course work to the practical experience, and 3) an assessment of how the MPA program components have addressed the MPA learning outcomes.  [27] The portfolio is graded on the written contents as well as an oral presentation, [28] as illustrated by a sample MPA portfolio and evaluation of the written as well as oral presentations.

The Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing degree is a 60 credit-hour master’s degree with several capstone projects. The first cohort began in summer of 2016.  Near the end of the program in 2018, each of these candidates must compose a critical analysis (minimum 50 pp.) of a selected published author for ENG 600 - Thesis Part I: The Critical Essay on Craft. [19] In addition, the MFA requires a book-length, publishable-quality collection of the candidate’s creative work (minimum 40 pp.) in ENG 650 - Thesis Part II: The Creative Thesis. [29]  Finally, the MFA candidate must present a public reading of creative work along with a 1-hour lecture on the craft to demonstrate professional practice. [20]

Assessment of knowledge of current literature and engagement with research

All graduate programs annually assess their student learning outcomes and make improvements based on the findings. The MAT program also has the external approval of the Georgia Professional Standards as a teacher preparation program for Level-5 (graduate) certification. [30]

Starting with fall semester 2016, the University implemented an external review cycle for the programs that do not have specialized accreditation, including graduate programs beginning with the MBA in summer of 2017. [31]

The annual reports assess program learning outcomes with micro-analysis of specific assignments.  These assessments can then be linked with “The Purposes of Graduate Study”:

2016-2017 MBA Academic Program Assessment Report [32]
2015-2016 MBA Academic Program Assessment Report [33]
2014-2015 MBA Academic Program Assessment Report [34]
2016-2017 MAT Academic Program Assessment Report [35]
2015-2016 MAT Academic Program Assessment Report [36]
2014-2015 MAT Academic Program Assessment Report [37]

2016-2017 MPA Academic Program Assessment Report [38]
2015-2016 MPA Academic Program Assessment Report [39]
2014-2015 MPA Academic Program Assessment Report [40]

Knowledge of the discipline

The principle of knowledge of the discipline appears in “The Purposes of Graduate Study” as “I.-Master of the current literature, prevailing knowledge and/or skill set of a specific discipline.” [1]

MAT students address this principle when they prepare a portfolio of work for edTPA, a nationally available performance-based assessment to measure candidate teachers’ readiness to teach literacy and mathematics. The score necessary for Georgia Teacher Certification, as determined by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC), is 42.  The faculty in Reinhardt’s Price School of Education (PSOE) determined that the expected mean score for each graduate cohort is 58.  Reinhardt MAT candidates have a 100% pass rate and have exceeded these expectations.

Table 3.6.2-2 MAT edTPA Expectations and Scores

edTPA MAT Scores (ECE)

MAT  Expectation

MAT Actual

2015-16 Mean Score

58

62.81 [41]

2016-17 Mean Score

58

 59.16 [42]

 

From the annual assessments, the MPA Academic Program Assessments for 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 recommended that degree candidates strengthen their skills with writing public policy memos.  As a result, the MPA faculty developed a set of guidelines for public policy analyses.  In addition, the MPA Director contacted several regional officials to ask their input on current public policy challenges and problems, and these suggestions were incorporated in the guidelines documents.  In 2015-2016, the MPA Director also asked if these officials would serve as “mentors” to the MPA students as they develop their public policy memos.  Several officials agreed to help mentor/advise, and particularly, they agreed to serve as panelists for the students’ professional portfolio presentations. [43]  The 2016-2017 MPA Academic Program Assessment records an increase in scores for projects involving policy memos, noting that students could offer “significantly stronger, well-researched, and more profound solutions to the policy topics” as a result of the improved guidelines and the interactions with officials in the discipline. [44]

Engagement with research and professional practice

Engagement with research is addressed in "The Purposes of Graduate Study" as “III - Mastery of skills to research a topic thoroughly.” [1]

The MBA program assesses this principle through its program student learning outcome, “M6-Research Methodologies” stating that candidates will Derive business decision-making applications based upon sound research practices and procedures.”  The 2015-2016 MBA Program Assessment included a curriculum map [45] for each learning outcome (pp. 19-21): as a result, “M6-Research Methodologies” should be introduced in BUS 601 (Management), reinforced in BUS 621 (Human Resources), and mastered in BUS 641 (Quantitative Decision Making).  The 2016-2017 MBA Program Assessment [46] indicates that the target was partially met in BUS 601, but in BUS 641 the target for M6 was satisfactorily met. The curriculum mapping strengthened instruction of research methodologies throughout the MBA program sequence.

The MAT program coordinator monitors research competencies through the student learning outcome, “3 - The teacher candidate uses systematic formal/informal assessment as an ongoing diagnostic activity to measure student growth and to guide, differentiate, and adjust instruction.” Although Reinhardt MAT students have a 100% pass rate on edTPA, the 2016-2017 MAT Program Assessment [47] recommends actions to strengthen even further results on edTPA rubrics 11-15 which involve understanding and analyzing assessment data.

The Master of Public Administration program addresses the principle of advanced research through its program learning outcome, “2- Critical Thinking, Analysis, and Synthesis to solve problems and make decisions: ability analyze and interpret data and policy formation, using various research methodologies and statistical techniques to demonstrative effective critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities to make recommendations for decision making and public policy creation.” [3] In the 2014-2015 Program Assessment, the assessment target was satisfactorily met in “MPA 610: Research Methods.”  However, the MPA program director determined that a second course in research methods was warranted to improve research skills even further.  The rationale for the second course explains that comparable programs in the state of Georgia (University of Georgia, Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University, and University of North Georgia) require two research methods courses as part of their MPA degree programs. [48] A second course, “MPA 611 – Applied Statistics for Public Decision Making,” was approved by the Faculty Senate and incorporated into the curriculum.  In the 2016-2017 MPA Program Assessment, the director continued to monitor this learning outcome for ways to strengthen it even further.

Conclusion

As the examples above demonstrate, Reinhardt graduate programs structure their curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. The annual, internal assessments of program learning outcomes, which align with “The Purposes of Graduate Study,” and external reviews for certification, ensure that Reinhardt graduate academic program coordinators and directors regularly monitor these principles.

 

Supporting Documents

[1] The Purposes of Graduate Study, Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 7

[2] MBA student learning outcomes– Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 33

[3] MPA student learning outcomes  -  Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 58

[4] MAT student learning outcomes  – Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 38

[5] MFA student learning outcomes - Reinhardt University Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 53

[6] Library Portal on the homepage:  http://library.reinhardt.edu

[7] BUS 610 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 62

[8] BUS 610 syllabus, fall semester 2016

[9] BUS 680 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 63

[10] BUS 680 syllabus, spring semester 2015

[11] EDU 510 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 63

[12] EDU 510 syllabus, fall semester 2016

[13] EDU 550 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 65

[14] EDU 550 syllabus, spring semester 2017

[15] MPA 610 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 73

[16] MPA 610 syllabus, fall semester 2016

[17] MPA 615 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p.   73

[18] MPA 615 syllabus, spring semester 2016

[19] ENG 600 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 72

[20] ENG 610 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 72

[21] MBA Practicum Evaluation Form

[22] MBA Portfolio Directions/Evaluation Form

[23] Sample MBA Portfolio

[24] EDU 595 Candidate Teacher Evaluations

[25] Sample MAT Induction Growth Plan

[26] MPA Comprehensive Examination Sample Questions and grading rubric

[27] MPA Professional Portfolio Requirements

[28] Sample MPA Professional Portfolio and Evaluation

[29] ENG 650 catalog course description, Graduate Academic Catalog 2016-2017, p. 72

[30] PSC approval for MAT level-5 certification, 2009

[31] Schedule for program reviews

[32] 2016-2017 MBA Program Assessment Report

[33] 2015-2016 MBA Program Assessment Report

[34] 2014-2015 MBA Program Assessment Report

[35] 2016-2017 MAT Program Assessment Report

[36] 2015-2016 MAT Program Assessment Report

[37] 2014-2015 MAT Program Assessment Report

[38] 2016-2017 MPA Program Assessment Report

[39] 2015-2016 MPA Program Assessment Report

[40] 2014-2015 MPA Program Assessment Report

[41] edTPA 2015-2016

[42] edTPA 2016-2017

[43] 2015-2016 MPA Program Assessment Report, pp. 18-19

[44] 2016-2017 MPA Program Assessment Report, pp. 17-18

[45] MBA Curriculum Map, 2015-2016 MBA Program Assessment Report, pp. 17-21

[46] 2016-2017 MBA Program Assessment Report, pp. 13-14

[47] 2016-2017 MAT Program Assessment Report, pp. 9-10

[48] MPA 611 course proposal, 2015