The Cal Poly Pomona B.A. in English
Meaning of the English B.A. Degree
English degrees prepare students with core competencies that give them the versatility to move into multiple professional areas, and the B.A. in English at Cal Poly Pomona facilitates this by pairing critical thinking with creative thinking, and cultivating communication skills through the rigorous study of language and literacy, texts and contexts. Our major programs in Literary Studies, English Education, and Applied Language Studies are unique from other universities in that they capitalize on the department’s multidisciplinary structure, combining five different academic fields—literature, linguistics, rhetoric, composition, language—to prepare dynamic professionals, capable of achieving success in many career paths. All students leave with core competencies in critical thinking, research, and written and oral communication, and specialize in their options with targeted skills in literature, diversity, literacy, education, language, and linguistics.
The degree is open to students of all skill levels and is sequential in its structure, honing preexisting skills into career-level expertise through coursework and high-impact practice courses. A number of foundational classes in literature, writing, linguistics, language, and theory advance students to upper-level, seminar-style courses where they apply and practice their critical abilities in a learn-by-doing setting. The program culminates in an “Engagement Experience” course in which students are asked to demonstrate their mastery of these skills in external settings like internships, as well as internal programs in editing, publishing, web development, and creative writing.
Because of the dynamic nature of their education, graduates of CPP’s English department are prepared for jobs within related disciplines such as teaching, publishing, advertising, research, writing, professional writing (technical, grant, etc.), and public relations. In particular, our program has a solid track record placing graduates in the region’s K-12 and community college education system. Although some graduates go on to Ph.D. programs and are well-served by the preparation they receive, the program is focused on practical preparation for more immediate careers, made possible by the versatility of skills promoted throughout the curriculum.
Quality of the English B.A. Degree
An English degree generates versatile professionals that demonstrate their core competencies within the discipline and transfer these skills beyond the English curriculum. Across all three options, the curriculum foregrounds general surveys in year 1, filters students through discipline-specific mid-level courses in years 2 and 3, and culminates in the demonstration of mastery of these skills in advanced seminar and engagement coursework. At CPP, students build their critical reading skills through encounters with a diverse array of texts (literary, expository, linguistic, multimodal), write for different settings (academic, web, newspapers), learn to present their work to different audiences, and engage in responsible and productive research. Among the multiple ways these skills are taught, practiced, and reinforced, students learn how to perform and stage dramas, write and recite poetry, research and present scholarship, and generate original web-content with feedback from professional authors. In addition, a regular lecture series and a robust undergraduate research program promote the application of these skills outside the classroom.
Integrity of the English B.A. Degree
The department assesses its progress in reaching its goals at two distinct points: core coursework and the senior capstone. The core courses serve as a gateway to the upper-division coursework and provide an opportunity to gauge student development. These are then viewed in relation to students’ performance in the senior capstone experience. The capstones in all three options ask students to produce an extensive writing portfolio that combines previously-written work, revised materials, new scholarship, and a reflective essay that ties them together. Students in the culminating capstone course are given anonymous exit questionnaires that address a number of assessment points, and this is paired with in-class interviews conducted by faculty reviewers. The English Education option combines assessments from peers, faculty, and mentor-teachers to round out the evaluation, and these are evaluated every few years through the CCTC accreditation process. All of these materials are reviewed annually by the Teaching and Learning Committee, presented to the department, and adjustments made as necessary.
Literature and Language Option Learning Outcomes
- Literary Traditions: Demonstrate familiarity with the concept of the traditional canon, major
works representing this canon, and the forces behind its expansion; recognize connections between literary periods and texts evident in the influence of one author upon another; demonstrate ability to situate texts in their original historical, cultural, and literary contexts.
- Critical Reading Skills: Demonstrate ability to read and interpret literary and non-fiction texts. Demonstrate facility with deep reading of the text in itself, including recognizing symbolism, figurative language, prosody, style, and literary devices; be able to apply theory judiciously and productively in interpreting literary texts.
- Writing Ability: Demonstrate fluent writing and researching ability including an awareness of audience, purpose, form, and other rhetorical concepts, a high degree of knowledge and control of the conventions of Standard Written English, familiarity with library resources such as online databases and catalogs, the ability to gather and synthesize information coherently, the ability to properly quote, paraphrase and summarize other texts with critical engagement, and familiarity with basic documentation formats.
- Oral Communication: Demonstrate an ability to present the ideas of others in a clear, organized fashion, including organizing material and responding to questions about the material presented; demonstrate the ability to present original ideas and discuss them with peers in an articulate, professional manner.
- Understanding of Linguistic Features of English and a Foreign Language: Demonstrate basic understanding of the linguistic features of the English language, and low intermediate ability with one language other than English.
Additional Outcomes for English Education
- Effective Teaching: Demonstrate knowledge of the elements of effective teaching, including pedagogy and the uses of technology in teaching, and demonstrate potential as a classroom teacher during student teaching assignments.
- Understanding of Learning Literacy: Demonstrate understanding of how students acquire and learn literacy.
(Outcomes 5 and 7 will be demonstrated by course grades in the relevant areas. All others will be assessed in portfolia collected in the Senior Symposium and the Assessment Seminar and rated according to rubrics designed for those outcomes.)