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English: Undergraduate Programs


The Department of English offers undergraduate majors and minors (for the B.A.) in English and in Creative Writing. The Undergraduate English Major gives students a comprehensive view of the field with core requirements in literature, rhetoric, language, and writing. This broad-based major prepares students for many careers, including the law, library science, counseling, publishing, and teaching at the primary, secondary, and college levels. Creative Writing majors and minors in our department have the opportunity to work with distinguished faculty in small workshop settings in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction. Many of our Creative Writing students go on to receive MFAs, to publish their creative work, and to teach writing at colleges and universities. With the help of their advisors, English students may develop an individual “pathway” in the major. These pathways may include traditional fields of English and American Literature as well as areas such as Rhetoric and Composition, English Language and Linguistics, Under-Represented Literatures (Native American, Chicano/a, African-American, Women’s Literature) critical theory, or visual culture (including film). All of our majors take a series of core courses which prepare them for more advanced study in literature and creative writing. The core courses include intensive literary analysis, surveys of British and American literature, and junior and senior seminars. Upper-division literature seminars offer the chance for close work with award-winning faculty members who specialize in the student’s particular fields of interest. Assessment is multi-tiered and involves both students’ feedback on how well the major fulfilled their educational goals in English and faculty assessment of student writing and analytical skills at mid-career and as they complete the major. The Department of English was honored with the University-Wide Teaching Award for Meritorious Departmental Achievement in Undergraduate Education in 1998, and our Undergraduate English Advising Center offers students the kind of individual attention usually found at small liberal arts colleges. More than a dozen English Department faculty have won major teaching awards. The active faculty now includes four University Distinguished Professors. For more information please see our website at

Expected Learning Outcomes: 

 learning Undergraduate Student Learning Outcomes,

plus Assessment Activities, Findings, and Resulting Changes

For the English and Creative Writing Majors

            The Assessment process for the major in English is grounded in six learning outcomes for all majors that were voted through by the Department in 1998 and remain the basis of overall outcomes assessment ever since.  The procedure each academic year, as we have developed it to its current form, is to assess aggregate student achievement regarding each outcome in a process that moves in a sequenced succession of steps, which can be read here from left to right:




1) Knowledge of foundational texts of British and American literature

Direct:  The final exams, considered in the aggregate, of ENGL 373a and 373b, where the vast majority of students should perform at the level of “3” or “4” on RUBRIC “A” (see below).

Indirect:  The student essays in English 496a portfolios when they focus on the quantity and quality of access we provide to the foundational works we ask our students to know. 

Each academic year, the 373 instructors meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) in English, using RUBRIC “A,” to draw conclusions about the collective student accomplishment of this outcome from the final-exam information and to make recommendations about changes that could improve that result in the future.

2) Understanding of the historical and cultural range of literature written in English

Direct:  The final examinations, considered in the aggregate, of ENGL 373a and 373b, which are designed to measure the range, as well as the foundations, in student knowledge of literary history, plus the English 496A Senior Seminar portfolios, which ask students to collect papers from across their classes about a range of literature widely distributed in time and in cultural orientations.

Indirect:  The student essays in English 496a portfolios when they recount the quantity and quality of access we provide to a sufficient range of literature and cultural orientations.

Meetings of both 373 instructors and 496 instructors with the Director of Undergraduate Studies at least once every academic year use RUBRIC “A” to decide the aggregate levels of student mastery of the desired range – and how many student groups attain the top “4” and “3” performance levels – and then to make recommendations for future adjustments likely to lead to improvements in these results.

3) Understanding of the development of the English language as used in works of literature

Direct: The final examinations, considered in the aggregate, of the courses (a limited range)  that our majors take to meet our “at least one course in language” requirement, on which we expect the vast majority to perform at the “3” or “4” level on RUBRIC “A,” plus the student portfolios in English 380, which will include student writings on the uses of language in works of literature.

Indirect:  The student essays in English 496a portfolios when they address the quantity and quality of access we provide to classes that ask all students, in one way or another, to work through the history and qualities of the English language, as well as its use in literature

A meeting of the faculty who teach English Language and Linguistics (ELL) with the DUS once a year uses its own version of RUBRIC “A” to draw conclusions about the collective student accomplishment of this outcome from the aggregate final-exam results in classes focused on the English language and to make recommendations about changes that could improve those results.  In addition, the meetings of 380 instructors annually with the same Director also assess this outcome – using RUBRIC “B” (see below) – within their examination of analytical writing by students.  

4) Understanding of strategies of textual interpretation appropriate to different literary genres

Direct:  The English 380 portfolios, which must include writing on at least three different genres using the analytical techniques most appropriate to each, as well as the English 496A portfolios and the 496 senior projects considered as a group.

Indirect: :  The student essays in English 496a portfolios when they comment on the quantity and quality of access we provide to learning about important interpretive strategies and their effectiveness for analyzing different genres.

The English 380 instructors meet once a semester with the Undergraduate Director to assess the collective revelations that emerge from these portfolios, all evaluated according to RUBRICS “A” and “B” together.  The findings that result may lead, as they often have, to modifications in the English instructional program. 

5) Ability to conduct and use literary research, to the point of achieving:

* a compelling thesis, as per RUBRIC “B”

* accurate and sufficient evidence presented in a scholarly manner

* proper disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research tools

* clear and appropriate writing for a research paper

Direct:  The English 496A portfolios and the Senior Seminar final project considered together, where the vast majority of students should warrant ratings from 3-5 in RUBRICs “B” and “C” (see below)

Indirect:  The student essays in ENGL 496 portfolios when they describe the degree and quality of student access to learning about research methods and major bibliographies.  

The 496 instructors each term meet with the Undergraduate Director and evaluate the portfolios and projects of each semester collectively according to RUBRIC “B” and RUBRIC “C”  taken together.  The findings that result may lead, as they have in the past, to modifications in the English instructional program. 

6) Ability to write clearly and effectively

Direct:  The English 380 portfolios and English 496 portfolios as assessed by each group of teaching faculty, on which the vast majority of students should earn ratings from 3-5 on RUBRIC “B.” 

Indirect:  The student essays in ENGL 496 portfolios when they describe the degree and quality of student access to learning about expository writing from their first year at the University onwards. 

The Undergraduate Director, in consultation with the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UGCC), pools the findings that emerge from separate meetings each term of the faculty teaching 380 and the faculty teaching 496 seminars.  After combining all these findings for each of the 6 goals of the English major, the Director and the UGCC make recommendations for curriculum modifications if and when the findings show them to be necessary.

Rubrics A, B, and C can be accessed at the links to each below

This process, which now includes a few recent modifications, has been carried out fully with English majors for more than a decade.  Over that time, these activities and our methods of drawing conclusions from them have led us to several assessment findings, which in turn have resulted in changes to parts of the English major made in response to these findings.  If we put together all the findings and resulting changes that have been discovered and implemented since our last Academic Program Reviews in 2004 and 2012, the results are these:

Findings, based on the above outcomes and evidence, between 2004-05 and 2011-12 --      

  • In their essays for ENGL 496 portfolios, many English majors have indicated the need for a course focused specifically on research methods prior to the research-intensive demands of the 496A seminars, for which they feel they need more preparation. Also: faculty analyses of the 496 portfolios using Rubrics “B” and “C” have shown that too large a percentage of students were scoring below the desired levels for Outcome # 5.
  • Until recently, in those same 496 portfolio essays, English majors also noted the lack of required course work specifically on the English language to help them towards the knowledge they need in that outcome area (# 3 above). In addition: faculty analysis of the 380 and 496 portfolios has revealed that too small a percentage of English majors prior to 2011-12 were meeting the objectives most connected to Learning Outcome # 3 above within the specifications of Rubric “A.” 
  • Between 2005 and mid-2010, especially in their 496 portfolios, English and Creative Writing majors have requested more specialized substitutes for our ENGL 373A and 373B surveys of British and American literary history (required for both majors) because there have not been enough seats, especially since the state budget cuts of 2008, to meet the great student demand for these particular classes.
  • Above all, faculty and majors alike have noted – because the larger setting of our culture now encourages more visual (rather than verbal) learning and explicitly ungrammatical and abbreviated writing – that an increased percentage of students are now advancing into attempting English majors with problems in writing grammatically and in coherently organizing paragraphs and whole arguments. We see this problem especially in ENGL 380 diagnostics at the start of semesters and in both our 380 and 496 portfolios.  Two sub-problems within this problem have been especially highlighted in our sense of this evidence:
    • There has come to be a lack of clarity about the outcomes for expository writing that are expected of undergraduates after the three key levels of study in English: (a) after First-Year Composition; (b) after 300-level "core" instruction; and (c) after the 400-level capstone classes that lead to graduation.
    • There has not been enough of a bridge from First-Year Composition to the basic junior-level Literary Analysis (ENGL 380) classes, so much so that most students (save for Honors and other advanced undergraduates) now enter that level insufficiently prepared for attaining all the outcomes in analysis and writing at which ENGL 380 currently aims.
  • Finally, too, again in their 496 portfolios, many students have asked for "pathways" that give a greater coherence to both the English and Creative Writing majors, particularly so that the major electives outside the core classes (which students and faculty tend to agree on) are more than a loose set of classes bearing only general relationships to each other.

Resulting English Major Changes (from 2004 to Spring 2012) based on the above findings -

  • All English majors are now required to take an ENGL 396A pro-seminar focused specifically on research methods and taught by professors in their areas of greatest research expertise, and we have already modified this course after multiple offerings to make sure it plays this role consistently in our curriculum. The 496 portfolios, plus the final research products in those Senior Seminars, have recently indicated substantial greater progress towards the collective student achievement of Outcome # 5.  
  • All English majors must now include within their 18 units of electives for the major at least one course on English language or linguistics out of several that we offer.  That requirement became fully established on the University-level Academic Advisement Reports for each student by the Spring semester of 2012.
  • The number of available seats every semester in both ENGL 373A and 373B has been greatly expanded under the supervision of the current Director of Undergraduate Studies in English, to the point where there are at least 250 spaces in these classes every term – and sometimes more – as opposed to the 170 that have recently been the case. These classes are also being assigned to the instructors proven most effective in a survey-lecture setting in these kinds of courses and, for the discussion sections, to Graduate Assistants in Teaching (GATs) with unusually high-level teaching skills.
  • In addition to efforts now being implemented by the Writing Program within English, the following initiatives to improve student outcomes in writing across the different stages of undergraduate careers have been undertaken:
    • An online Faculty Survey on Expository Writing was undertaken in September-October of 2010 using a design developed by students in an ENGL 307 (Business Writing) class offered by the Writing Program itself. The result, completed by more than half of the whole English faculty, indicated a clear faculty-wide agreement on the learning outcomes and skills most important for students to achieve (a) by the end of First-Year Composition; (b) by the end of ENGL 380; and (c) by the end of every student's senior-level capstone classes. The Directors of all the programs that oversee these course levels have promised, in consultation with their faculties and supervising instructors (where applicable), to see that these agreed-on outcomes are all aimed at in the actual classes at each academic level. In several areas, such as the Writing Program, the established learning outcomes already meet these specifications. There has, until this survey, though, never been as systematic an attempt to specify a whole faculty's learning outcomes in writing for each level of an undergraduate's progress.
    • Beginning in Fall of 2011, the existing ENGL 280 (Introduction to Literature for General Education students) has been modified experimentally to be a "bridge" course for English majors between First-Year Composition and ENGL 380. Early-stage majors have been directed by advising into these 280 sections, which will count among the six lower-division units now allowed among the electives for the English major. Selected sections for ENGL 380 in the Spring of 2012 have more recently be set aside for those students who have taken 280 first. At the end of these 380s, we have assessed how effective this 280-380 sequence has been in improving student preparation in close reading and more grammatical, better-structured writing. We found that, among those students who came into 380 having taken 280 first (a group we tracked separately over two semesters), 75% did better-written and more analytical work by the end of 380 than students who came to that course not having had 280 at all.  Based on that assessment, the UGCC is now considering a proposal to require 280 and 380 both within a revised English, and perhaps a revised Creative Writing, major.
  • Starting also in the Fall of 2011, the English Undergraduate Program has reinvigorated and strengthened a set of options similar to what are called "pathways" in the Overview above: emphasis areas within the electives allowed for English and Creative Writing, in which a tightly related group of four courses (encompassing at least 12 units) now constitute an emphasis and for which the Department will award certificates indicating one specific emphasis for all BA graduates who complete one sanctioned by an authorized English advisor. Some specific emphasis options are now listed for students in our Undergraduate brochures: American Literature, British Literature, Border Studies, Film and Literature, Language and Linguistics, and Rhetoric and Composition. But, as with Thematic Minors, students are also able to negotiate other emphasis areas with an English advisor. Those who prefer no such emphasis or who cannot achieve one will still be able to major in English or Creative Writing; they will simply not be given a certificate indicating that such an emphasis has been completed by the time of graduation.

More Recent Findings (2012-14) –

During the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years, there were meetings each semester of the faculty groups teaching ENGL 373a-b, ENGL 380, and the ENGL 496 Senior Seminars, the courses that generate aggregate conclusions about the undergraduate accomplishment of the six English major outcomes.  The faculty teaching these courses filed written reports, based on the Rubrics appropriate to them, with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (or DUS) in English.  After that, there were meetings of the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (the UGCC) in English in which the results of these reports were collated, reported, and discussed.  Overall, our English majors show – and testify to – considerable learning, as well as substantial improvement in their analytical and writing skills, in their work for individual core courses, so much so that the majority are achieving the six learning outcomes for this major at least to a satisfactory degree.  But this assessment process, relative to the English major, has also led to these other findings that either reinforce or add to the ones above:

  1. Too many students (up to 40% in some groups of them), based on the application of Rubrics B and C to their written work in the 380 and the 496 portfolios especially, now have trouble writing consistently grammatical and steadily argumentative prose, particularly in the composition of literary analyses.  That problem is compounded by so many of these students not knowing clearly what nouns, verbs, adjectives, subject vs. predicate, and active vs. passive voice mean when an instructor refers to them.  380 instructors consistently find too little of this kind of preparation in the early writings done in these classes. There is also the problem, for too many students in 380, of achieving an academic stance and tone.


  1. The 496 portfolios collectively show that an alarming percentage of upper-division English majors have sketchy understandings of English and American literary history – understandings that are inconsistent with each other, as well, from student to student -- and thus are not sufficiently achieving Outcomes 1 and 2 for the major.  There is also some correlation of these findings with those reached by 373 instructors who have assessed their final exams this year using Rubric A.  While some offerings of 373 courses find well over 60% of students scoring at a 4 or 5 level on every Rubric A item from “a” to “g,” others have much found lower percentages achieving at those levels, in one course no better than 40% on most of these items.  The overall finding that emerges from this evidence is that sections of ENGL 373a-b are inconsistent with each other in the degree to which they help students achieve high levels on Outcomes 1 and 2.  Students in their 496 portfolio essays, after all, observe great variation between what is taught (the range of texts) in different versions of the 373 classes. They also note that ENGL 373a and 373b have become so "packed" that too much literature is crowded into them for optimal learning to take place.


  1.  The 496 portfolios, relative to # 4 of the learning outcomes for the English major, reveal inconsistencies among students as to how many of them know how to approach in writing literary genres as different as poetry, drama, forms of narrative, and intellectual prose.  That finding correlates with the differences in the 380 portfolios, where some groups of students have written on three different genre areas (poetry, fiction, and drama usually) and other groups have written only on two and sometimes only on one (poetry).  Several 496 student essays, in this connection, note that (a) sections of 380 are inconsistent in how many genres they include and (b) one semester of 380 is not enough to analyze a wide range of genres and still develop good close reading and analytical writing skills beyond the level of First-Year Composition.


  1. Even by the time of the 496 portfolios, there is too much inconsistency among English majors regarding knowledge of the tools most basic to literary interpretation and research (Outcome # 5), among them (for example) the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and the MLA International Bibliography online. 496 instructors who have asked students to work with these have been surprised at how many by that time know virtually nothing about them.   

Resulting English major changes, based on these findings, now in process –

By May of 2013, then, the UGCC, chaired by the English DUS, concluded that it and the Department as a whole should pursue the following initiatives in 2013-14 and 2014-15 – for implementation in 2014-15 -- as responses to the findings about the English major in 2012-13:

  1. The UGCC has proposed and the Department has passed a change in the English major, which will add ENGL 280 (Introduction to Literature) as a core requirement and a prerequisite to ENGL 380 (still required), raising the total number of units for this major to 39 (instead of the current 36), starting in the Fall of 2014.  Several of the concerns raised in the 2012-14 findings will be addressed by this change, in part because it includes a Department-wide agreement on these as the learning outcomes for every section of 280:

1. A clear understanding of the formal attributes of literary texts most essential for analysis (genre as a concept/tradition, author vs. speaker, sound and rhythm, etc.)

2. A good grasp of how these attributes work in producing the thematic content of literary texts, all of which should be achieved through the practice of close reading (this class’s most important skill)

3. A facility for understanding the most important assumptions and conflicts underlying literary texts – exemplified with convincing textual evidence -- so that the student passes beyond summary into probing analytical interpretations

4. College-level competence with grammatical written English in arguments about literature

5. Basic mastery of critical argumentation in interpretations of literary texts

6. Knowledge of how to find (by way of the OED and other sources) – and use for analysis – the meanings and etymologies of English words and the sources of allusions in the texts studied.

  1. The DUS and UGCC will lead, and themselves engage in, a faculty discussion about the content and relative uniformity of versions of ENGL 373a and 373b, as well as 373c.  This discussion should address the issues of: the balance between uniform learning outcomes, including some common texts for all versions (under Rubric A), and the flexibility encouraged by academic freedom; the reading of out-and-out literary histories to give students more common ground (or not); the degree to which outcomes a-g in Rubric A can be achieved by different possible formats for the delivery of the ENGL 373 classes; the sheer amount of reading in these classes and what the best formats and outcomes are for the collective student achievement of major Outcomes 1 and 2. The goal of this process should be a proposal from the UGCC to the Department faculty before the end of Spring semester 2014 common to the 373 courses – or new versions of or variations on them – starting in 2015-16.


  1. The DUS and UGCC should also lead, and themselves engage in, a recalibration of the learning outcomes for the ENGL 380, 396, and 496 courses – since 280 has become required for students entering in 2014-15 – so that there is a clearer determination about where students will be given the most education on each part of major Outcomes 4, 5, and 6.  This recalibration discussion will also include careful consideration of how and where Rhetoric and Composition fundamentals will be incorporated more into the core classes in the English major.


  1. The English Department faculty in English Language and Linguistics (ELL) will meet and formulate more final criteria for the achievement of Outcome 3 under Rubric A. Their proposal will then be conveyed to the UGCC on the way to an eventual discussion at the level of the whole Department of English.


Even More Recent English major changes, based on Assessment findings for 2012-14 -

By May of 2014, especially to address # 2 in the 2012-14 “Findings” listed above, the UGCC, decided – and has recommended to the whole Department for a Fall 2014 vote – that the following additional initiative should be added (to take effect in Fall 2015) to the ones already outlined and well under way in 2014:

Objective:  To better enable English majors to achieve the first two overall learning outcomes that the Department has mandated for this major -- (1) Knowledge of the foundational texts of British and American Literature and (2) Understanding of the historical and cultural range of literature written in English – this proposal seeks a balance between (a) English majors arriving at their Senior Seminar with enough of a common ground in literary history for their professors to expect and assume as much and (b) survey courses that are not so overloaded with reading that it is not all reduced to avalanches of sheer information.

  1. Beginning with students entering the UA in the Fall of 2015, the English major (while remaining at 39 total units) should reduce its elective requirements from 6 courses to 5 (with the requirement for a course on the English language remaining among them) and add a 7th course to its core requirements:  English 373c (constituted as proposed below).
  1.  Beginning in 2016-17 at the latest, the core survey classes should have these general reaches (with some attention to comparable surveys at ASU and NAU):

ENGL 373a:  English literature from Old English to the 1660s

ENGL 373b:  English and American Literature, ca. 1630s-1840s

ENGL 373c:  English and American Literature, ca. 1850-1930s

  1. Each offering of ENGL 373a should include the following at a minimum: Beowulf, the Prologue and 3 tales from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, selections from Spenser and Donne (or another metaphysical poet), a representative female author, 3 books from Milton’s Paradise Lost, and at least one example of drama (recommended: some of Shakespeare’s sonnets).
  1. 373b and 373c should include a representative and interrelated selection of highly influential British and American texts (including intellectual prose and oratory as well as fiction, poetry, and drama) but should avoid the crunching of too many works into one semester that has occasionally characterized 373b in the recent past.  Instructors of all 373 classes should meet as a group at least once per academic year to work out and agree on the major authors to be included in these courses.
  1. The new ranges of dates in 373 classes by 2016-17 should thus result in less quantity in the total amount of reading per semester, compared to the present time, in all 373 courses. 


The faculty in Creative Writing, meanwhile, have recently revised their outcomes for that undergraduate major, in part based on previous assessments, and have implemented activities to assess the aggregate student achievement of these outcomes that have led to recent findings and changes. An important programmatic goal in Creative Writing in 2016-2017 is to consider how the CW Major Portfolio might better function both pedagogically and for assessment, since as an instrument, it is not now working as well as it might. The program faculty will also assess whether some larger changes to the structure of the undergraduate major (including instituting a capstone course similar to the English major) might be wise to better serve our students and to better accommodate assessment, pedagogy, and student experience.

A chart now follows of the current assessment process in the undergraduate Creative Writing major:





1)  Ability to write well-crafted and compelling works of literary merit in prose or poetry.

Ongoing:  each of the three workshop levels (200-, 300-, and 400-) requires significant written work.  Our portfolio requires students to turn in their best 12-15 pages in the 200- and 300-level prose courses and 5 poems for poetry courses.  For the 400-level, we require two 12-15 page projects for prose courses and 10 poems for poetry courses. Within each genre’s workshop sequence, students are asked to create a satisfactory or better short story, poem, or essay, using craft techniques taught in the course sequence. This creative work is assessed through faculty critique and peer review.

Faculty members consistently incorporate reading and craft lessons in the workshop setting, and regularly offer intensive feedback and guidance. Students have ample opportunities to produce enough work from which to cull material for their portfolio.  Students, however, do not often save their work from early courses for their portfolio, making thorough assessment difficult. And since there is no system in place in which faculty read and respond to portfolios, students perceive it as serving our purposes but not their own. 

We found that the CW Major Portfolio appears to be only marginally useful for students and in assessment, so in 2017 the faculty approved moving the portfolio out of the 400-level genre workshop and into a new capstone class for the major which would have the portfolio as a requirement and make it more pedagogically useful. This would also incentivize students to do the work; presently it serves the purpose of assessment, but only barely, and students don't perceive its pedagogical value. 



2)  Understanding of craft terms and concepts and the ability to articulate how these aspects of craft contribute to text’s literary, aesthetic, or emotional effects.

Students read and analyze essays, poems, and stories from a writer’s perspective specifically to ground them in required craft terms and concepts within each genre (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry). These concepts are demonstrated in critical responses, and are implemented in creative output assessed through faculty critique and peer review. ENGL 215 (Elements of Craft) has been designed to bolster this work, allowing creative writing faculty the opportunity to address craft terms and concepts and how students might use them in “further development of their own sensibilities.” Within this new course, faculty will use a variety of assessment methods including: quizzes, essays, oral examination, and analysis of craft in creative work.

Our implementation of ENGL 215 was, in a sense, pre-emptive.  The student statements from the portfolios collected in Fall 2010 showed that some students had difficulty articulating how their craft choices had produced these effects in their own work.  The creative writing faculty concurs that more opportunities to read and consider texts as they relate to creative output is necessary.

ENGL 215 has had some effects in improving student experience and competency, but will work better paired with the proposed new capstone course. We propose also administering a midterm test on craft terminology in both ENGL 215 and the new capstone course, so we can clearly track student understanding of these concepts.

In addition, the introduction of more opportunities for students to write short, critical pieces on craft terms and concepts, or introduce short oral presentations of their projects before their workshops, articulating their use of a key craft term or concept.

3) Ability to isolate and manipulate craft elements in writing and revising a story, essay, and/or poem.

ENGL 215 (Elements of Craft) has been designed to specifically address craft terms and concepts such as, in fiction, point of view, narrative time, plot and character; in poetry, image, rhythm, and voice; in nonfiction, narrative summary, reflection, and research. The assessment methods including quizzes, essays, oral examination, and analysis of craft in creative work continues in the workshop setting. Creative work is analyzed and critiqued by faculty and peers. Written feedback provided; line by line feedback provided. Rewrites required with demonstrated use of craft elements introduced.

Reading and analyzing work “as a creative writer” is useful in the workshop, as well as in the new ENGL 215 course. Instructors consistently return to the “craft concepts” at all levels of the workshop experience, but because of class size and the number of courses required for the major, students are not receiving this message as deeply and consistently as they could. Because of course sizes (and faculty staffing: often enough students only encounter permanent, tenured or tenure-track faculty at the 400-level, far too late in the major) at the 200- and 300-levels, students are more likely to receive individual attention on revision at the 400-level. 

When assessing the program, the Creative Writing faculty should look at the requirements for the major, and assess the value of the newly implemented ENGL 215. Workshop size is a serious consideration. The Expected Student Outcome can be most expressly and efficiently met by adhering to the AWP recommendation of class size of 15 students for advanced workshops. Additionally, in 2016 the CW faculty looked at the entire undergraduate major and has suggested some minor changes (such as eliminating pointless prerequisites) and major ones (instituting a new capstone class), aligning it better with the changes to the new English major.

4)  Knowledge of significant currents in contemporary prose or poetry and their antecedents.

In ENGL 215, and also as a supplement to the workshop at the Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Level, quizzes, essays, and oral evaluations are underway. Most significantly, faculty consider and assess the  student’s ability to recreate or integrate trends and aspects of contemporary thought in his/her own work. The final portfolio statement and self-evaluation, coupled with exit-interviews, is the final moment of assessment in this area.

Faculty have begun to contribute to a “master list” for ENGL 215 of major and influential works in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction with which students in the major should be familiar, ensuring that students have exposure to a variety of “artistic credos and literary styles.” The program balances flexibility in faculty approach and aesthetic with an overall agreement regarding foundational texts.

Faculty have been encouraged to continue assigning additional reading at the 300- and 400-level workshops, with the reading selections at their discretion. As ENGL 215 evolves and is taught by a number of different faculty members, the CW program plans to create master lists of recommended work, in greater depth than are already provided (for current recommendations at the 200, 300, and 400 workshop level, see English website)

5)  Ability to identify and analyze the ways in which individual writers operate within, on the edges of, or in response to their literary contexts, predecessors, genres, and historical traditions.

See the assessment activities listed in the English major’s section for information about overlapping requirements. Additionally, ENGL 215 (Elements of Craft) has been designed for Creative Writing majors to specifically address questions of context and traditions, with attention to close reading. Quizzes, tests, and critical essays are used in ENGL 215, while faculty critique and peer review are used in the workshops.

This is one of the most significant and study-worthy aspects of our outcomes in the major. It can be assessed at the portfolio stage, but it is worthy of further study at all stages in the major. Creative writing students would benefit from more opportunities to critically engage with published texts to meet this outcome.

The creation of ENGL 215 was, in one part, a result of varying levels of student ability to close-read texts or to place their work in a historical tradition. More opportunities to produce short, critical pieces will be introduced and the method of final evaluation (an exam or final project) for ENGL 215 is to be determined. The faculty as a whole will study this aspect of our major in our pursuit of attending to the holistic education of the young writer, reader, and scholar.

6)  Understanding of key goals and outcomes expected of the English major, in particular, knowledge of foundational texts of British and American literature.

See the English major assessment activities in this category. The study of English Literature and the study of and creation of Creative Writing is a profound relationship, and the Undergraduate Advising Office assists majors in creating links and synergies in this area. It is important to monitor creative writing majors in key literature program requirements (ENGL 373A, 373B, and 380, the British and American literature survey and literary analysis courses, respectively).

See the English major assessment findings. The Creative Writing portfolios from reveal that students have difficulty relating their creative work to the goals of the English major in this regard.

With ENGL 215, students can be prepared more adequately for their required work in ENGL 373A, 373B, and 380.  Reading assignments can be designed specifically to connect creative writing and its diverse models with its roots in British and American literature. Additional recommendations may be made by the continued placement of creative writing faculty on the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee and consistent meetings between the Creative Writing Program Director and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.



Assessment Activities: 


for CW Major: 

(See chart above for specific ongoing assessment activities.) 

Direct Assessment to date has consisted of instructors evaluating final projects in senior-level workshops. These workshops have also required students to turn in a Major Portfolio of their work for assessment and evaluation. This effort has been sporadic, often not reviewed by anyone other than the program director, and this system is subjective. To some extent that is a necessity in a field as subjective as creative writing is, but the problem with the portfolios has been that they are not clearly connected to undergraduate students' experience. It's difficult to do this when the majority of the 200-level workshops are taught by graduate students. 

Because the portfolios have not worked pedagogically or been particularly useful for assessment we are moving them into the new capstone course, where they will be evaluated as the final project in that course. We are also rethinking how we mentor graduate students teaching 200-level workshops, which will help ensure that workshops are centered around questions and issues of craft. 

The faculty will also discuss instituting a pair of midterm exams covering craft terminology, so in the 215 course and in the proposed capstone course, students will be assessed on their understanding of craft terminology and techniques. This should provide some quantitative data for assessment.

As an indirect assessment measure, in 2017 we are instituting a graduating senior self-assessment survey that will look a lot like the exit survey the MFA Program in CW began administering to students in 2016. This will provide both quantitative and qualitative data that we can correlate with the assessment of final CW Major Portfolios in the new capstone course.

Results will be shared annually with the faculty for discussion in order to address the success of our pedagogy.

Assessment Findings: 




Change in Response to Findings: 


For CW Major:

As a result of the evidence generated by the process detailed above, the Creative Writing program has made or is in the process of making the following changes:

  • Rethink of portfolio system for graduating majors/rethink of structure of the undergraduate major.  In 2010, the CW faculty began implementing a portfolio system to be used at the end of completion of the 400-level workshop, including an analysis of the major, a self-evaluation, and representative works from the 200, 300, and 400 level workshop. Six years of results have not shown it to be as successful as we hoped, so in 2016 we paused that practice and will move the portfolio into the new capstone course that will come online in 2018-2019.
  • Creation of Course Sequence Guidelines (see it on the English website)
  • Assess English 215 (Elements of Craft) course.  This required 200-level craft course introduces the student to craft terms and concepts via intensive reading in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. This is an intensive reading and lecture course designed to model the ways in which writers read, not focusing on content, material, or subjective experience and impressions as a reader, but on the elements of craft that writers use to form, control, and structure works of art. In 2017-2018 we will assess how this course is working for our students and faculty--and, of course, for the major.
  • Poetry Center/Prose Series events incorporated in class requirements.  Many creative writing professors integrate Poetry Center and Prose Series events with their syllabus. Poetry Center events can be found on their website. The Creative Writing Faculty curates the UA Prose Series, bringing prose writers of distinction to Tucson. Readers since 2004 have included John D’Agata, Marilynne Robinson, Lydia Davis, George Saunders, and Junot Diaz. Readings take place at the Poetry Center.
  • In 2017 all graduating UG CW majors will be asked to take an exit survey to self-assess a number of aspects of the major.
PDF icon Rubric A.pdf43.53 KB
PDF icon Rubric B.pdf51.94 KB
PDF icon Rubric C.pdf32.62 KB
Updated date: Thu, 04/06/2017 - 13:45