Assessment of a University Faculty Development Program on Speaking and Writing Pedagogy Through Direct Measurement of Student Learning Outcomes

Julie Gissendanner Howdeshell


The purpose of this study was to assess a faculty development program through direct measurement of student learning outcomes through investigating the relationship between participation in a faculty development program on speaking and writing pedagogy and student learning outcomes in oral and written communication. Faculty and students enrolled in senior capstone courses in Spring 2011 were asked to participate as part of requirements for internal assessment and external accreditation. Of the 1,448 students enrolled in capstone courses that semester, 1,002 papers and 727 recordings were received, representing 69% and 50% of those enrolled respectively. A sample of 400 papers and 400 presentations were randomly selected, with approximately 80 papers and 80 presentations from each of the University's five colleges. To gain a representative sample, the number of artifacts from each course was based on the proportion of students that comprised the total enrollment of capstone courses for that semester, representing 41 courses and 47 faculty members in the speaking assessment and 47 courses and 60 faculty members in the writing assessment. After replacement of personal identifiers with unique codes, each paper and presentation in the sample was rated twice using locally developed rubrics based on student learning outcomes for oral and written communication. The two ratings for each artifact were then averaged to obtain a final rating. Logs of faculty development participation were then used to determine whether the artifact was from a course taught by an instructor who had participated in a faculty development offering or not and the scores compared using Mann-Whitney U analysis.

The results of the study indicated that student papers in courses led by instructors participating in faculty development had statistically significant higher scores for every category of the writing rubric: purpose and content, reasoning, structure, language, audience, documentation, and the overall score. Rubric scores of student presentations were statistically higher in courses led by instructors participating in faculty development than in those who had not participated in the areas of audience, vocal delivery, nonverbal delivery, and overall with no statistically significant differences in purpose and content, support for reasoning, structure, language, or audio-visual aids.