The School of Computing and Information Sciences at Florida International University uses many different assessment mechanisms to assess the extent to which its undergraduate program objectives are being met. Further, the School has defined procedures to evaluate the assessment results and identify ways to improve its curriculum deemed necessary and appropriate by its faculty.
CIS currently uses four survey instruments:
Beginning in Fall 2010, assessment of Student Outcomes is accomplished primarily via evaluation of students' projects in CIS 4911 Senior Project. This is a capstone project course encompassing the several curriculum areas of the BS in CS.
In addition to these survey instruments, we seek recommendations from other important sources including the Industrial Advisory Board of the School, undergraduate women's group, ACM student chapter, and the like. We will reevaluate these recommendation mechanisms in the future and design survey mechanisms for individual constituencies if so warranted.
II. Administrative Structure
To administer and evaluate these assessments, the School has created the administrative structure that includes the undergraduate program director (UPD), the assessments coordinator (AC), and five subject area coordinators (SAC), each in-charge of courses in a specific subject area. The Director of the School appoints the UPD, and the UPD is responsible for appointing the AC and the SACs.
The five subject areas are Programming, Software Engineering, Computer Systems, Foundations, and Communication & Ethics. The SACs are responsible for writing periodic recommendations for modifications pertaining to all courses in their respective subject areas. The AC is responsible for writing a periodic report summarizing these recommendations of the SACs and the recommendations received from other sources. This report is submitted to the undergraduate committee of the School which then follows the normal academic procedures of the university to implement the modifications suggested. The UPD bears the overall responsibility for assessing the undergraduate programs of the School as well as ascertaining that defined procedures are followed in a timely fashion.
III. Assessment Instruments and Procedures
As indicated earlier, the School uses survey instruments, Senior Project assessment, and recommendations from identified groups to assess whether its student outcomes and program objectives are being met. The details of these assessment mechanisms and how we plan to use them are described below.
A. SURVEY INSTRUMENTS:
1. COURSE OUTCOMES SURVEYS:
There are two bodies that conduct the course outcomes surveys, students taking the courses and faculty members teaching them.
a. By Students:
This survey is undertaken by current students for each of their classes every term. Each student is asked to rate the appropriateness of each of the outcomes for the course from two points of views: the level to which the outcome was met for the student personally and how meaningful the student considers the outcome. The survey is conducted on-line during the last two weeks of each term. Sample student surveys can be found here.
b. By Instructors:
Instructors of each of the courses complete this survey that includes which assignments, quizzes, tests, etc. covered which of the course objectives, how do they rate the appropriateness of each of these objectives, how effectively were they able to address that objective, how relevant they think each of the outcomes of the prerequisite course(s) is, what was the level of mastery of students in their prerequisite topics, and their suggestions about improving the overall preparation of the students for taking that course. The instructors complete this survey on-line within a week of the completion of the term. Sample instructor surveys can be found here.
The Associate Director for Computing Technologies is responsible for ascertaining that meaningful statistics for each survey are available within a month after the term concludes.
Each SAC is responsible for reviewing these survey results for all courses in the subject area, and write an annual report recommending possible modifications, if any. The AC must receive these reports by the end of January, that is, by the end of the first month of the Spring term. The AC then summarizes and consolidates these recommendations in one report that must be submitted to the School's undergraduate committee by the end of February of each year.
2. SURVEY OF GRADUATING STUDENTS:
This survey, undertaken by students who are ready to graduate with the undergraduate degree in Computer Science, is conducted in an on-line fashion every term. All graduating students are asked to rate every outcome of our degree program as to the extent it has been met for them personally as well as how meaningful they consider it to be for them personally. The students are also asked to give their suggestions to improve our undergraduate curriculum. The survey will be conducted on-line. A sample of this survey can be found here.
We will use the results of this survey to modify our curriculum appropriately to ascertain that students have a smooth learning experience as they progress through their curriculum. Curriculum modifications based on students' comments will be proposed by the AC in the annual report submitted to the undergraduate committee by the end of February.
3. SURVEY OF ALUMNI:
This survey undertaken by our graduates is conducted every three years. Its primary purpose is to allow us to get the feedback from our graduates as to how adequately our curriculum has prepared them to achieve success in their current practices, either advanced graduate studies or employment in any computing industry or government. The survey will be conducted in an on-line fashion. A sample of this survey can be found here.
We will use the results of this survey to modify our curriculum contents to prepare our students better to maximize their potential to achieve success. The AC is responsible to include curriculum modifications based on the alumni survey in the annual report submitted to the undergraduate committee.
B. DIRECT MEASURES:
1. Senior Project Assessment:
Student Senior Project presentations are observed, independently of the course grading, for the purpose of assessing attainment of student outcomes. A rubric detailing the specific outcomes, and criteria for assessing the outcomes,is provided to a team of observers. The observer ratings are compiled to obtain a rating of attainment of each outcome.
2. Course-Embedded Assessment:
In addition to assessment via the Senior Project, direct measures of attainment of student outcomes are obtained by embedded-course assessment.. The particular courses to be sampled are determined from semester to semester to ensure direct assessment coverage in every academic year of each of the Foundations, Data Structures, Programming Languages and Computer Systems areas.
Periodically, we seek out recommendations for curricular changes from diverse bodies and interest groups. In all cases, curriculum modifications based on these recommendations will be included in the annual report submitted by the AC to the School's undergraduate committee.
1. Industrial Advisory Board:
The IAB of the School is expected to meet once a year to discuss among other things, how we can prepare our students better to face the current challenges in the field. The Director of the School, the UPD, and the AC will review these formal and informal recommendations of the Board.
2. Undergraduate women's forum:
Our undergraduate women's forum meets occasionally throughout the year under the leadership of a faculty member of the School. The problems faced by women in science areas of endeavor are unique, and we will take the recommendations of this group to address their concerns about our curriculum and how can we assist them to perform better and attract more women in our program. The AC and the UPD will review the recommendations of the group on an annual basis.
3. ACM Student Chapter:
The members of our ACM Student Chapter meet periodically throughout the year. Recommendations made by this group through their faculty advisor will be reviewed by the AC and the UPD on an annual basis.
IV. Implementing Curriculum Changes
The annual written report submitted by the Assessments Coordinator to the undergraduate committee of the School by the end of February includes recommended curriculum modifications based on all assessment mechanisms. The undergraduate committee will complete all internal deliberations in the School by the end of the Spring semester so that the faculty approved changes in our curriculum can be submitted to the College undergraduate committee's first meeting in the Fall semester. The University approved curriculum modifications will be implemented no later than in the subsequent Fall term.