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Undergraduate Program Assessment Plan


STUDENT ASSESSMENT

1. Student Content-Learning Evaluation
Starting in the 2016-2017 academic year, The Department of Geology is implementing a direct assessment of geoscience-content learning with our undergraduate majors.  This pre- and post-program quiz partly utilizes the community based Geosciences Concept Inventory, but it is modified with additions tailored to meet our program's learning objectives.  However, this instrument cannot capture some of the field-oriented, skill-based learning objectives in our curriculum. This includes our geoscience Learning Objectives, #2, #9, #13, #14, and #15, for example.

2. Student Performance in Courses
The following graphic illustrates how our seventeen geoscience learning objectives map to the core geology courses where those concepts and skills are taught.  Assessment of student learning is evaluated through the graded exercises, labs, and exam questions in these courses.

Note that our GEO 4700 and GEO 5200 field courses at the base of this graphic directly address every one of our program's learning objectives. The individual graded products in those courses, such as written reports and maps, provide a direct assessment of student learning for every one of our learning objectives.

Map objectives to courses

3. Student Self-Assessment Learning Evaluation
Starting in 1998, the Department of Geology implemented an assessment tool originally devised by the geology faculty at Illinois State University, which was modified to align to our Learning Objectives and our field-oriented program. It consists of a written questionnaire which is given first to students entering GEOL 3550, Sedimentation and Stratigraphy, generally the first upper-division geology course taken by majors. It is given again at the conclusion of GEOL 5200, Geology Field Camp, our program's capstone experience.  Results of the before and after versions are compared to get a sense of value-added; i.e., skills learned or improved over the program. Although an indirect assessment, the results demonstrate learning gains over the length of our program.

ASSESSMENT OF EARTH SCIENCE COMPOSITE TEACHING (ESCT) MAJOR LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Assessment of the majority of ESCT Learning Objectives follows the same methodology as the Geology major Learning Objectives with the exceptions noted under Learning Objectives. ESCT majors must also demonstrate competency in the most effective science teaching methods. Assessment tools for evaluating competency in pedagogy include:

1)  Successful completion of the Secondary Teaching Education Program (STEP) coursework in pedagogy and teaching methods.
2) Preparation of a professional teaching portfolio.
3) Successful completion of the Secondary Teaching Education Program (STEP) clinical experiences, including student teaching.
4)  Evaluation by performance surveys of first year teachers.
5) Demonstrate mastery of content knowledge by passing the ETS PRAXIS exam prior to their student teaching experience.

STEP Program: All teaching majors at USU receive their coursework, clinical experiences and student teaching experience in the Secondary Teaching Education Program (STEP) of the College of Education and Human Services. The performances that are assessed by the STEP are derived from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) standards which include:

  1) Content Pedagogy
  2) Student Development
  3) Diverse Learners
  4) Multiple Instructional Strategies
  5) Motivation and Management
  6) Communication and Technology
  7) Planning
  8) Assessment
  9) Reflective Practice: Professional Growth
10) School and Community Involvement

 

Four assessments were developed from the conceptual framework of the INTASC standards. These are as follows: 

Portfolio:
Students who enter the secondary education program begin developing a professional portfolio which is an integral tool in the assessment of their professional performance as a teacher. Students select materials from the professional education courses, courses in their major/minor, clinical experiences, as well as other experiences they have had working with children to demonstrate successful performance of knowledge, skills, and attitudes reflected in the 10 standards of teaching in the conceptual framework. In every secondary education course, the relationship between course work, the conceptual framework, and the portfolio is explained. Students are taught how to analyze the materials they select and how to write a rationale explaining why the artifact fits the standard(s) indicated by the student. Students must complete the portfolio before entering student teaching. The reviews of the portfolios by a committee of TEAL faculty allow faculty to identify areas of the program which are successfully preparing students to perform as teachers.

Student Teaching Performance Report (STPR):
The Student Teaching Performance Report (STPR) uses the same INTASC standards as the professional portfolio. The form identities tasks for each principle that delineates the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that constitutes successful performance. The evaluation form is completed jointly by the student teacher, cooperating teacher, and university supervisor as a summative evaluation of that student’s performance. The level of performance is indicated by placing a mark on a line which represents a continuum from successful completion of the task to unsuccessful performance.

Performance Surveys of First Year Teachers:
While the previous three sources of data are compiled as students complete the secondary education program, the performance surveys of first year teachers are designed to gather data about the students’ performance after the first year of teaching. Surveys are sent to the graduates of the secondary education program and their principals at the end of their first year of teaching. The surveys provide data as to how well beginning teachers perform in relation to the ten standards that make up the secondary education program. Information obtained from the surveys provides information for the evaluation of the secondary education program.

PRAXIS Content Knowledge Exams:
Prior to student teaching all teaching majors must meet a State of Utah mandated passing score in the ETS PRAXIS exam in their content area. For the Earth Science Composite Teaching majors that exam is Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge (5571).  The content categories for the exam include:

1) Basic Principles and Processes (12%)
2) Tectonics and Internal Earth Processes (17%)
3) Earth Materials and Surface Processes (23%)
4) History of the Earth and its Life-Forms (14%)
5) Earth’s Atmosphere and Hydrosphere (19%)
6) Astronomy (15%)

A score of 153 is required to successfully pass the PRAXIS Content Knowledge Exam.
 

 

PROGRAM ASSESSMENT

1. Student Evaluations of Courses and Instructors
The standardized USU course evaluation form is conducted in all courses taught by Geology faculty to allow students to evaluate both the course and the instructor.

2. Senior Exit Interview
Towards the end of spring semester, the department hosts a "feed and feedback" reception for graduating students. After a brief social, students and faculty discuss student experiences of major courses, skills acquired, relations between courses and concepts, etc. Compiled information is recorded without identifying students and results are discussed at a faculty meeting, and it often results in programmatic changes. This group format has been found to be effective, and students are relaxed and responsive.

3. College of Science Interviews and Questionnaire
Each year, the Dean of the College of Science interviews a number of majors from each department in the college. In addition, every student applying for graduation in the College of Science is given a questionnaire to complete. These collectively provide information on general student satisfaction with the degree program, courses, faculty and facilities. This information is collected anonymously and then returned to the department in the summer following graduation.

4. Self Study and External Review
The Department of Geology periodically conducts a Regents-mandated self study and external review. The self study allows the faculty to reassess the program and its direction as well as its goals and objectives. The recommendations made by the external review team are used to modify and improve the program.

5. Advisory Board
In April 2003, the Department of Geology formed an advisory board that meets annually to provide input and advice on the evolution and strategic directions of the department. The advisory board consists of members drawn from a variety of professional backgrounds, largely alumni of the department and non-alumni who have an interest in the department’s direction.

 
Geology Program Assessment Flowchart

flowchart