Program Evaluation Research on Cultural Studies
From left to right: Jenai Odgen, Keely West, and Jerilyn Cloud (not pictured, Jamie Lyon), University of the Incarnate Word students who conducted the cultural studies project.
Students at the University of the Incarnate Word utilized their research skills as part of their course to assist the Dean of Humanities Arts & Social Sciences in conducting a needs assessment for a proposed cultural studies major. With the use of multiple methods such as archival analysis, interviews, and surveys, the students were able to provide information to administration and faculty to help shape the curriculum proposal of a cultural studies major at UIW.
The Cultural Studies project, conducting during the Spring 2001 semester, was designed to measure the attitudes and interests of the student body at the University of the Incarnate Word regarding the development of a cultural studies and to assess other relevant issues. The working hypotheses were: there would be a significant difference in the way people valued cultural studies in the classroom across gender, ethnic background, academic major and grade point average.
An initial survey of faculty and administrators was conducted to capture the range of thinking about cultural studies and to determine the predominant issues to be addressed in the subsequent student study. Faculty members of the HASS Cultural Studies Task Force and other UIW administrators were interviewed. Their responses suggest a diversity of thinking about the potential development of a cultural studies program. Strengths were seen in the areas of expanding awareness, providing important skills, strengthening the University Mission, preparation for graduate studies, global and economic focus, while potential weaknesses were expressed in the areas of taking time away from existing programs, would reach a limited number of students and may not prepare them adequately for graduate school, and may require the hiring of new faculty.
The design for the project involving students included the recruitment of students on advising day in the proximity of the Administration building. Student completed a thirty-ninequestion survey regarding attitudes and beliefs towards cultural studies. The subjects were required to sign a consent form before the survey was administered.
There were no significant differences found between gender, ethnicity, academic major or overall grade point average and their attitudes toward cultural studies. However, mean ratings of the importance of cultural studies were on the positive side across these four demographic variables. We conclude that a cultural studies program may benefit students at the University of the Incarnate Word independent of gender, ethnicity, or academic major; they all positively endorsed multicultural attitudes.
The strength of this project was that it addressed a wide range of cultural issues in various formats and on different levels. The weaknesses of this project was that the sample was derived as a sample of convenience (rather than derived through a stratified probability sample). A follow up study is recommended to determine the importance and relevance of cultural studies in graduate programs. See discussion for further elaboration of study outcomes (PDF, 59KB).