Outcomes Assessment Plan
Since the inception of formal outcomes assessment strategies at ESU in 1989, the Departments of Physical Sciences—the division—has continued to refine and to implement its plan for outcomes assessment. The following six-point plan, which has been in place since 1991, pertains to all baccalaureate-degree (BA/BS) majors of the physical sciences (chemistry, earth science, physics, or physical sciences), and the BSE for which teaching fields in chemistry, earth-space science, science 5-8 (general science), or physics may be obtained.
- A tracking of matriculants--a persistence study--of those who declare the intent to major in one of the physical sciences disciplines/programs. The intent to track a random-sample of matriculating prospective majors (and pre-professional students) was amended to track all matriculants if possible. This responsibility is jointly shared by the Physical Sciences, Student Advising Center, and the Admissions Office. Key responsible individuals from the Physical Sciences include the SAC advisor, the pre-engineering advisor, and the chair and department/discipline/program heads.
- A portfolio for student majors in certain courses. Each semester a sample of student work is solicited for each student major (or pre-professional student). The cumulative lists of matriculants are used as the basis for the solicitation; solicitations are made for only active students. (If a student has changed majors from a program in the physical sciences, that information is indicated in the tracking system, and a solicitation of that student=s work ceases). A cumulative portfolio of class work for majors is prepared on a semester-by-semester basis.
- A tangible product from a capstone experience for each BS, BA, and BSE graduate. Evidence of the outcomes from the capstone experience involves faculty who mentor undergraduate research in chemistry and physics, provide instruction for field geology, or teach the physical sciences secondary methods course to pre-service teachers and/or oversee student teachers.
- An exit survey and interview for each graduate. Faculty heads of chemistry, earth science, physics, and physical sciences education monitor progress of majors toward degree completion. The discipline heads and Departments of Physical Sciences chair ensure that all graduates with baccalaureate degrees are surveyed with a written instrument, and are interviewed by the Physical Sciences chair prior to graduation.
- Placement information for as many graduates as is possible. The Office of Career Services (OCS) conducts an annual follow-up of graduates and provides important information concerning post-graduation activity. This element of the Outcomes Assessment Plan is prepared by the director of OCS and serves as the documentation for this element of outcomes assessment.
- An alumni survey conducted with as many graduates as is possible about five years after graduation. It is felt that only more recent graduates may provide meaningful feedback to improve the quality of the current physical sciences’ baccalaureate programs. In 1991 the 1985, 86, and 87 graduates (about 35) were surveyed; a survey of 1988, 89, and 90 graduates was conducted in 1994; in 1997 a survey was conducted of 1991, 92, and 93 alumni of programs; and in 2000 a survey was conducted of 1994, 95, and 96 BA/BS/BSE graduates.
An Outcomes Assessment Plan has been formulated, and has evolved to its present state. The number of responses is growing and the responses are encouraging. Students have been complimentary of their academic programs, but have also been candid if they sense some needs for improvement. The faculty will use the results of outcomes assessment to complement and supplement other existing feedback mechanisms, including focus groups, traditional student-faculty interactions, testing of students in regular classroom situations, and the end-of-the-course evaluations. Other miscellaneous outcomes indicators include unsolicited letters and email correspondence from graduates, or reports from employers, for example. This combined feedback will be utilized to inform our judgments concerning the curricula of the various programs.