Each senior is required to complete a Senior Assignment that demonstrates proficiency in the major and academic breadth commensurate with SIUE's general education expectations. This requirement arose from the University's belief that the ability to integrate a general education perspective into one's academic discipline is an essential mark of a University educated person. Each Senior Assignment (SRA) is a scholarly engagement between a senior student and dedicated professor(s) that results in a product. As such, SRAs make the curriculum visible and, therefore, assessable. SRAs foster creativity and self reliance by encouraging each student to gain control over his or her own educational experience, to become something more than a skilled classroom stenographer.
Rather than asking students to be consumers of knowledge, we ask them to participate in its development in discussions, in essays, in laboratories, in studios, on stage, and in countless other ways. As the culmination of an SIUE education, the Senior Assignment has as an objective that students trace through in a given field the process by which ideas are created, refined, and expressed, either through their own inventive work or by replication of the work of someone else. Whether through an experiment, the exploration of text(s), quantitative or historical analysis, use of one of the arts, or by means of a practicum, the goal is that each senior gain and reveal through the SRA a baccalaureate-level understanding of how an idea, a work of art, a mathematical proposition, or a scientific conclusion comes into being, and to demonstrate this understanding via the transferable baccalaureate skills. In order for student learning to be assessed, students themselves must be participants in, rather than witness to, the activity of mindfulness.
---after H. Copeland, 1990
Each academic major has its own version of the Senior Assignment that may involve, for example, library inquiry, laboratory experiments, field study, or artistic creativity. Therefore, a given SRA may culminate in an artistic performance, technical design, public speech, written thesis, gallery presentation, or a combination of these with other forms of expression. Individual SRAs differ, but they share in common a challenge to each SIUE student to achieve individual academic excellence. This is what distinguishes baccalaureate education at SIUE.
--quoted from the University's Senior Assignment Information page
Students of music will use the senior assignments as one way to demonstrate the characteristics desired of graduates as stated by the SIUE College of Arts and Sciences:
The College of Arts and Sciences of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville is committed to ensuring that its graduates acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to function as educated individuals, life-long learners, and responsible citizens. To these ends, the College fosters the development of the following characteristics and capabilities.
Organize and express ideas clearly and appropriately; master standard use of written and oral communication; appreciate alternative forms of expression, including art, dance, music, and literature; distinguish between the medium and the message; listen, observe, interpret, and understand others.
Employ independent, objective, and rigorous reasoning; identify and integrate the elements of a task or problem; seek, organize, assimilate, synthesize, and use information; maintain a healthy skepticism; recognize the value of creativity, the limits of reason, and the legitimacy of intuition.
Problem Framing and Solving:
Appreciate the complexity of problems; go beyond conventional assumptions; understand parts of systems as well as the whole; recognize patterns and generalize; search and test solutions using analytical and intuitive skills; evaluate and monitor outcomes; work effectively and creatively in diverse groups.
Master basic facts, concepts, and literature of the arts and sciences; acquire knowledge of diverse ethical traditions and contemporary issues; develop competence in the use of technology, instrumentation, and research methods; develop expertise in a major; understand the evolution and trends of that major; acquire knowledge of career opportunities.
Integration and Application of Knowledge:
Recognize and value the interconnectedness of knowledge; learn creatively from practice and experience; apply knowledge in innovative ways; appreciate, use, and promote multidisciplinary and culturally diverse perspectives; foster connections wherein knowledge serves as a bride to new levels of understanding and insight.
Assess personal strengths, weaknesses, and potential; develop individual goals and persevere to achieve them; build self confidence and motivation; identify and respect diverse backgrounds and viewpoints; deal effectively with change; recognize and tolerate ambiguity; develop a well- considered personal ethic that includes responsibility for actions; assume responsibility for decisions and their results.
Participate in the local, national, and global community; be sensitive to the welfare of others; appreciate democratic values; acquire a sense of personal and collective responsibility for the social and natural environment.
Maintain a sense of curiosity; appreciate and master the process of learning; recognize that learning is a means of fulfillment and success in one's personal and professional life.
Senior Assignments and the Objectives of the Department of Music
The goal of the Senior Assignment in Music is to provide a medium for addressing institutional assessment guidelines and requirements relating to a general education perspective. Music majors may demonstrate this in a variety of ways. Achievement of this goal can be assessed by music faculty using the following Primary Trait Analysis components:
1. Demonstrate performance ability at an acceptable level as evaluated by the SIUE Department of Music Faculty.
2. Demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of Music Theory and Music History/Literature.
3. Satisfy state and industry standards of professional training for students in Music Education and Music Business.
4. Understand and articulate the value of music and the role of the music professional in today's society.
5. Communicate in a scholarly and professional manner with other musicians and educators regarding the discipline of music.
The possible topics and types of projects for Senior Assignments are numerous. Some performance students do work with their Senior Recital. Some other students have studied ethnic music, composed musical works, or carried out experimental research. Funds are available which a student may apply for through his/her Senior Assignment Advisor.
The manner in which a student demonstrates a general education perspective relative to the major remains flexible and is decided upon by the student's interests and background. A student's assessment committee consists of at least three music faculty members (selected and invited to serve by the student) plus one faculty member outside the department (preferably in the field related to the project the student wishes to undertake). The committee provides guidance and direction as well as evaluation of the completed project. Assessment normally takes place during the senior year but a student may select a project/topic in advance (with approval of his or her assessment committee) and begin work on it in conjunction with a course.
Music majors may demonstrate a general education perspective in a variety of ways, such as:
A. Music education majors devising a teaching unit relating a composer to his time(political/social events, visual arts, literature, etc.)
B. Performance majors writing program notes relating his or her recital pieces to works of visual art, aspects of philosophy, history, psychology, sociology, computer science, etc.
C. Composition majors presenting a lecture on the role of the composer in contemporary society (audience , patronage, impact of computers and electronics, etc.)
D. Majors taking an oral and/or written exam in which they are asked to relate specific aspects of music to other disciplines, taking into consideration the courses completed by each student.
Specific course, credit hours, and grade for Senior Assignment are unspecified but arise from required work in MUS 357.