Submitted Fall, 2004
Pre-test: The pre-test to be administered and evaluated by a team 3-4 faculty in the Department is in the planning phase. The intent is to gauge student knowledge, understanding, and competence within the first three courses of the major. The key issues under consideration are; 1) allocation of workload to accomplish the delivery and evaluation of the test, 2) efficient delivery of the test and 3) systematic timing for the test. Objectives A, B, and D will be measured with the pre-test once a plan is in place for its systematic delivery.
The Biology Department is continually assessing curriculum. Our approach to the introductory course for majors is undergoing major revision, with the likelihood of our traditional Botany and Zoology courses being replaced by a one semester BIO I to be followed by a one semester BIO II course. These courses are in development with a projected implementation date of Fall Semester 2005. The introductory courses will be taken in sequence by all incoming freshmen. The course offers potential for being considered as a Pre-test venue.
Post-test: The post-test is administered as a composite of writing assignments, oral presentations, a mid-term exam, and a final exam in Biology 490 - Senior Seminar in Evolution. This course is the capstone required of all majors. The intent is to gauge student knowledge, understanding, and competence by completion of this course and the degree program. Evolution is understood to be the paramount connecting theme across the discipline of Biology. The course is team-taught with the express idea of combining instructor analyses of student learning. Further, student presentations have historically been publicized and attended by other faculty in the Department. This direct measure remains incomplete as the Department attempts to more systematically involve other faculty in the evaluation process.
Twenty seven(27) students successfully completed this activity in the spring, 2003. Routinely 45-50 students successfully complete this activity in each academic year. The survey was not repeated in Biology 490 as the course is one which is being reassigned to a 200 number. Emphasis will be diverted to assessment in Biology 420.
Objectives A, B, and D are measured with the post-test.
All majors complete an extended independent research project (Biology 420) that culminates in 1) submission of a scientific research report in the conventional format; introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion and literature citations, 2) an oral presentation in the format of a scientific meeting, and 3) a poster prepared using a professional grade plotter. All three facets of the projects are evaluated by a minimum of two faculty; the faculty research mentor and the "instructor of record". Routinely, other faculty contribute evaluative comments. Each semester, an outstanding undergraduate research award is made based on input of all faculty (15 tenure-track individuals) in the Department.
Nineteen (19) students successfully completed this activity in the Spring, 2004. Routinely, 45-50 students successfully complete this activity in each academic year. All faculty are invited to attend the student presentations and complete an eight (8) item evaluation form. In total of 11 of 15 tenure track faculty attended all or some of the sessions. Additionally, 2 of 4 lecturers also attended some of the sessions. A total of 105 evaluations of student presentations were submitted to the instructor of record for the Biology 420 course. The results of these evaluations are available in the February, 2004 APR.
Objectives B and C are measured with the independent research project.
The affective assessment tool has been developed and is designed as a five-point Likert scale. While administered by some faculty, this assessment of student attitude, emotional state, and personal opinion regarding the subject of biology has not yet been systematically implemented.
Objective D will be measured with the affective assessment once a plan is in place for its systematic delivery.
Surveys are to be sent every two years to graduates of the Department of Biology. The first survey, as a part of the assessment plan, was sent to 588 alumni of the Department of Biology in July, 2003. To date, 212 questionnaires have been returned. The department will consider revisiting the survey of graduates format in 2005. The following is a summary of the 2003 responses:
- What is the value of the research projects you conducted in Biology?
Substantial to great value = 47.4%
- The writing skills I learned in the Department of Biology are of:
Substantial to great value = 62.1%
- The speaking skills I learned in the Department are of:
Substantial to great value = 61.7%
- The statistical and general data analysis skills I learned in the Department are of:
Substantial to great value = 54.4%
- The plant and animal identification I learned in the Department is of:
Substantial to great value = 46.6%
- The exposure to various instruments and analytical techniques I learned in the Department is of:
Substantial to great value = 54.1%
- I receive exposure to wide breadth in the discipline of Biology.
Agree to strongly agree = 90.1%
- I received exposure to significant depth in one or more subdisciplines of Biology.
Agree to strongly agree = 80.8%
- I learned both theoretical and applied implications of Biology.
Agree to strongly agree = 79.1%
- I found faculty in the Department to be highly accessible.
Agree to strongly agree = 91.2%
- I was very satisfied with the faculty's effectiveness in communicating the subject matter.
Agree to strongly agree = 79.4%
- I was very satisfied with the diversity of subject matter presented in the Biology courses.
Agree to strongly agree = 85.1%
- I found the quality of instruction in the Department to be:
Unsatisfactory = 0% Poor = 0% Fair = 3.5% Good - 12.6% Very good = 34.5% Superior = 36.8% Outstanding = 12.6%
In addition, alumni had the opportunity to provide written reaction to the following: "Please provide other comments on the questions or additional thoughts regarding your experiences in completion of a bachelor's degree in the Department of Biology". Nearly 90 people chose to do so with many of the comments extending for several lines.
The questionnaire will be analyzed in more depth with the results to be discussed by the Department in anticipation of modification and enhancement of the curriculum. It is expected that the next questionnaire...slated for summer 2005...will change in structure.
Objectives A, B, and C are measured with the Biology graduate survey.
In 2004, The Biology Department completed the: 5-year Self-Study / Academic Program Review For The Department of Biology. The external reviewer, Dr. Kip Kruse, Chair of the Department of Biology/ Eastern Illinois University, compared the UNK Biology Department's assessment plan to others in the discipline. Dr. Kruse was impressed and thought the dept. was addressing the issue in a manner which would allow for adaptation to an evolving academic environment.
- Consideration of the implementation of a timetable in the 2004-05 academic year for systematic delivery of the pre-test and the affective outcomes instrument.
- Re-evaluation of the objectives and assessment measures in the 2004-05 academic year to better match student needs and response to the associated alumni assessment.
- Re-examination of the objectives and their fit with both the direct and indirect measures.