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Assessment Process

The purpose of the assessment and continuous improvement process for the Department of Computer Science (CS) is to improve the degree offered to our students, provide a continuous improvement to the curriculum offered, and to serve as the basis for our self-evaluation for accreditation. It is important to note that the department’s move from the College of Engineering to the College of Science in 2019, along with the ABET harmonization effort, has provided impetus for a more thorough, efficient, and rigorous assessment process.

The actors in the CS Department’s current assessment and continuous improvement process are as follows:

  • Department head
  • Department faculty
  • Students in the program
  • Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC)
  • Assessment Coordination Committee (ACC)
  • Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC)

Our current assessment process is based on three primary, independent tools:

  • Course Direct Measures (CDMs)
  • Senior Exit Surveys/Interviews (SESs)
  • IAC Reports

The following table describes these assessment tools and how frequently they are applied. We recognize that changes to the curriculum do not always come about as a direct result of these formal assessments. For instance, changes are occasionally based upon independent input from individual faculty, students, other university units, and the studies of the national trends in CS education.

Assessment Tools Brief Description Frequency and Documentation
Course Direct Measures (CDMs) The performance indicators (exam, assignment, quiz, or project) assigned to the course are evaluated by the course instructor. Complete each semester for selected required and elective CS courses to evaluate students’ performance on the course-associated student outcome(s).
Senior Exit Surveys/Interviews (SESs) The department invites seniors to evaluate the curriculum by completing a survey. After completing the survey, the seniors in groups of 3 or 4 are interviewed by the department head or the ACC chair to answer some questions and discuss their compliments and concerns about the CS curriculum. Complete each December and April prior to graduation.
Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) Report The industrial advisory committee meets with the department head, the UCC chair, and the ACC chair to review the CS program and provides qualitative feedback. Meet annually in November (sometimes in March). The IAC chair also solicits feedback from committee members via email whenever time sensitive issues arise.

Assessment frequency varies depending on the specific assessment tool. The last column in the above table explains the collection frequency for each of our primary assessment tools. Approximately seven SO-related courses are selected by ACC to collect their CDMs at the end of each semester. The course selection ensures each SO is evaluated at least once per semester and all required courses are evaluated at least once since the last ABET visit. In addition, it ensures that CS major required courses (CS3100, CS3450, CS4700, and CS5050) are evaluated at least once for each academic year. Selected elective upper-division 5000-level courses with a large enrollment or a group project that are specifically designed to have a major impact on at least three SOs are evaluated for the academic year 2019-2020.

The following figure illustrates the CS Department’s current assessment and continuous improvement model, where all the actors actively utilize the assessment tools in the assessment process.

USU Computer Science Continuous Improvement Process

The continuous improvement process proceeds each year according to the following schedule:

  • Early December (end of semester) and early May (end of semester)
    1. Faculty collect and submit Fall or Spring semester CDM to ACC.
    2. Department head submit senior exit interview summaries to ACC.
    3. CS staff collect SESs and send them to ACC.
  • January 15th: ACC verifies CDM receipt for Fall semester and follow up with the faculty who fail to submit the CDMs on-time.
  • May 15th: ACC verifies CDM receipt for Spring semester and follow up with the faculty who fail to submit the CDMs on-time.
  • August: ACC completes an assessment report and submits it to UCC
  • Around August 20th: ACC presents the ACC reports to faculty at the department retreats.
  • Throughout the year: UCC makes recommendations to faculty for curriculum and program changes based on the assessment report submitted by ACC, individual input from the students, faculty, and other university units, and studies of the national trend in CS education.