Each of the three assessment tools is described in more detail below.
Course Direct Measures (CDMs)
The CS Department designed and implemented Course Direct Measures (CDMs) in Fall 2012 to be the assessment points most closely associated with Student Outcomes (SOs) of a course. Every required CS course and every selected elective course (upper-division 5000-level course with a large enrollment or a group project that has a major impact on at least three SOs) has specific SOs and associated performance indicators (e.g., exam, assignment, quiz, or project) assigned as part of the faculty-approved course syllabi. The instructor of each of these courses generates a CDM by providing an assessment of the class performance for the associated SO based on the level of attainment using the following 5-point scale:
- student fails to demonstrate understanding of concepts required for this SO
- student fails to meet minimum criteria for success for this SO
- student barely meets minimum criteria for success for this SO
- student clearly demonstrates evidence of success for this SO
- student exhibits outstanding performance for this SO
This assessment is generally based on exams, targeted assignments, quizzes, or course project performances, although depending on the specific class, instructors may take additional data into consideration. A sufficient number of courses are chosen to ensure that each SO is evaluated at least once. Instructors are required to include the sample of performance indicators that demonstrate the accuracy of the assessment.
Senior Exit Surveys/Interviews (SESs)
The department head works with the Assessment Coordination Committee (ACC) chair to administer an online Senior Exit Survey (SES) near the end of each semester, which every graduating CS senior must complete as part of the graduation application process.
The last portion of the SES closely mirrors the department’s SOs and for this section, seniors must assess their overall achievement of each of the SOs, as well as important techniques, knowledge, and certain coursework using the following 5-point scale:
- Strongly disagree that student exhibits outstanding performance for this SO
- Disagree that student clearly demonstrates evidence of success for this SO
- Neutral about that student barely meets minimum criteria for success for this SO
- Agree that student clearly demonstrates evidence of success for this SO
- Strongly agree that student exhibits outstanding performance for this SO
After seniors complete the SES, the department head and/or the ACC chair interviews them in groups of 3 or 4. During these interviews, the senior students answer questions, express their views, and make recommendations regarding the curriculum and program objectives in general. Below are the typical questions asked during the interview:
- Which parts of the program worked for you and which didn’t?
- Which classes did you find valuable?
- Which classes were not valuable?
- What recommendations do you have for us to improve the program?
- Which classes or topics do you recommend we add?
- Which classes or topics do you recommend we eliminate?
- Do you feel prepared for full-time employment?
Depending on how students answer these questions, the department head and/or the ACC chair will ask some follow-up questions.
Both the survey numerical scores and the qualitative interview measures are used to assess achievement of SOs.
Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) Reports
Members of the Industrial Advisory Committee (IAC) (see Criterion 2 for list of members) meet with the department head, ACC chair, and UCC chair in November of each academic year, either attending the meeting in person at USU or via conference call. The IAC chair (a tenured CS faculty member who has industrial connections) organizes and conducts the meeting agenda. At the meeting, the department head presents the current CS curriculum, the growth of the CS program, recent student events, and notable achievements. The Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UCC) chair presents various curriculum changes since the last IAC meeting. The ACC chair reviews program educational objectives and SOs for the CS program, as well as CDMs. The committee members review the CS curriculum and program in general, including the program educational objectives and SOs. They also discuss the program, industry needs, and challenges with new hires, as well as make recommendations about how the CS degree programs might be enhanced to help address these needs and challenges. The IAC chair completes a report and submits it to the faculty for consideration at the next faculty meeting.
In addition to annual meetings, the IAC chair may solicit feedback from the IAC via email on time-sensitive issues, when requested by UCC or the department at large. For example, when the UCC was investigating a change to the programming language used in CS1400, CS1410, and CS2420, the IAC chair solicited feedback from the IAC on specific questions related to that investigation.