Graduate Academic Learning Compacts

Year: 2007-2008
College: Arts and Sciences
Department: Criminal Justice
Major: Criminal Justice
Concentration:  

Mission Statement:

The Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice seeks to provide its students with the theoretical, practical and research foundations for understanding crime and the criminal justice system in its social context. The faculty is committed to excellence through development of focused and relevant scholarship and instruction. Through research and teaching in the areas of law creation, crime and deviance, and societal responses to law violation in policy and practice, students develop a greater understanding of social control and its dynamic processes. All departmental coursework stresses the importance of critical thinking about justice issues, particularly as they relate to race, class, and gender dynamics in social relations. Our graduate program emphasizes theory and research, while undergraduate internships enhance relevance to current practice and further prepare students to apply their knowledge in the field. Students at the graduate level receive advanced instruction in research design and theory, helping students focus their skills for direct application or more advanced study. Rigorous commitment to peer-review and collegiality help assure an ethic of self-reflection and continuous-improvement govern all departmental processes.
Student Learning Outcomes:

    
Outcome:   


To achieve a comprehensive understanding of the legal, social, and political contexts of justice, crime and punishment.



    
Outcome:   


To understand, articulate, and apply the major theoretical schools of thought in criminology and criminal justice research.



    
Outcome:   


To assess and/or conduct research using the appropriate qualitative and quantitative research designs on researchable topics.



    
Outcome:   


To demonstrate writing and critical thinking skills at a level appropriate for graduate-level education in the social sciences.


Curriculum Map:

Assessment Approaches:

1) Comprehensive Exams The Comprehensive Exams engage four topics that cover the expect student outcomes: 1) a Criminal Justice Systems exam 2) a Criminology exam 3) a Quantitative methods exam, and 4) a Qualitative method exam. Specifically, an examination on the legal, social, and political contents of justice, crime and punishment is covered in the Criminal Justice Systems examination. Applying, articulating and understanding the major theoretical schools of thought in criminology and criminal justice research are covered in the Criminology examination. Assessing research using Quantitative and Qualitative research designs are covered in the Quantitative and Qualitative methods examinations. Finally, writing and critical thinking skills are assessed in all the exams as students are expected to answer questions in essay format. Students' performance on the Comprehensive Exams will illustrate how well the core courses in the MSCJ program are achieving MSCJ program Expected Learning Outcomes. Strategies of improvement include: 1) regular meetings among faculty to discuss the core courses which form the substantive theoretic and methodological base for comprehensive exams, 2) regular meetings among faculty to discuss the comprehensive exam questions themselves, and 3) regular faculty meetings to discuss the students' answers, to identify trends that may indicate areas that need improvement in the core courses, and to identify ways to improve the core courses based on student performance on the Comprehensive Exams. 2) Thesis While working with a faculty committee during the proposal and thesis stage, the student will identify and integrate MSCJ program expected learning outcomes into his or her project. Student performance evaluations will be conducted in three areas, once during the proposal defense, once during the thesis defense, and in the written body of the thesis. Students' performance in these areas will illustrate how well the core courses in the MSCJ program are achieving the expected learning outcomes. Strategies for improvement will include: 1) regular meetings among faculty to discuss the core courses which form the substantive theoretic and methodological base for the thesis projects and 2) regular faculty meetings to discuss the students' thesis projects, to identify trends that may indicate areas that need improvement in the core courses, and to identify ways to improve the core courses based on student performance on the thesis project. Further, the number of successful thesis proposals and theses will inform ongoing strategies for improving the symmetry between thesis products, the mission of the graduate program, and expected learning outcomes.