On December 3, 2003, seven (7) Geography majors and one (1) minor participated in a Focus Group that was directed by a trained (non-geography affiliated) facilitator. The facilitator's report was provided in both written and oral form. Areas of concern associated with assessment appeared to focus on:
- Course scheduling and rotation sequences
- Lack of flexibility in curricular requirements
- Redundancy in content from course to course (though indefinite as to specific courses or faculty)
Survey Of Graduating Majors
In the period from Summer 2003 through Spring 2004, the Survey Of Graduating Geography Majors was provided to the five (5) graduating Geography majors. Four (4) graduates chose to return the Survey.
Due to the limited number of Survey responses, it is not realistic to draw significant or reliable inferences from the data.
Overall, the graduates provided positive to very positive feedback on their experiences in the Geography Program.
It is notable that three (3) of the four (4) graduates specifically noted that:
- More Writing Intensive (WI) opportunities should be available in upper level Geography courses;
- The various curricula are too structured and the students would have appreciated greater flexibility in course selection.
Alumni Survey and Questionnaire
An Alumni Survey and Questionnaire was sent to over 300 Geography Alumni In April 2003. Thirty-one (31) usable surveys were returned. This Survey attempted to contact all known graduates from the period of 1968 through 2002. In Spring 2006, Geography will again Survey Alumni with the graduates from 2003 through 2006 as the targeted group
The results of the 2003 Survey are interesting and provide some insight to graduate's perceptions of the Geography Program. The following items are excerpted from the Survey and provide the most focused assessable comments and ratings:
The quantitative assessment information provided from Direct and Indirect Measures is not substantial enough to draw statistically valid conclusions at this time. However, tentative inferential, subjective analysis is possible.
Three (3) areas of review and immediate positive action can be identified:
- Recent changes in faculty expertise and changes in FTE faculty require that curricula be restructured to provide maximum use of limited faculty resources;
- New curricula should be structured to provide for greater student choice and flexibility in meeting degree requirements in a timely manner;
- Opportunities for students to develop and demonstrate critical writing, research and oral presentation skills must be expanded both in frequency and in opportunity for critical review by peers.
During the 2004-2005 academic year, the Geography faculty will establish the mechanisms to incorporate these three important elements in its programs. As the following "Assessment of the Plan" discussion will demonstrate, substantial changes have already occurred and future assessment processes will determine the effectiveness of these changes.
During the 2004-2005 academic year, all Geography Graduating Seniors will be asked to complete the Survey Of Graduating Geography Majors and Geography Focus Group will be assembled in early 2005. Additional future assessment activities will be assigned based on the Assessment Plan revisions suggested below.
Assessment of the Assessment Plan
Since Fall 2002 Geography has undergone some substantial changes:
- loss of an FTE line position(Summer 2002),
- addition of a new faculty member as replacement for a previous (2000) resignation (Fall 2002),
- retirement of a senior faculty member with specialization in regional studies (Spring 2003)and
- replacement with a new faculty member with a human/spatial analysis specialization (Fall 2003).
As a consequence, the Geography curricula have undergone substantial changes to accommodate the expertise of new faculty, accommodate the needs of students at various stages in their programs, and adjust to substantial reductions in the programs ability to offer a broad curriculum. During Fall semester 2002, Geography curricula were changed. The current Geography Assessment Plan is based on the changes of 2002.
During Fall Semester, (November) 2003, the Geography faculty undertook another substantial revision of all of the Geography curricula (except the BSEd). In regards to assessment, the new curriculum removed Geography 450 (Senior Seminar) and Geography 499 (Independent Study) from consideration for Direct Assessment and replaced them with Geography 410 -Geographic Technique and Thought and Geography 443 - Special Topics: GIS. Geography 415 -Internship remained as a listing in the Direct Measures part of the Assessment Plan.
During Spring Semester 2004, Geography undertook its scheduled five-year Academic Program Review. Both the APR Self-Study Report and the Review Team Report identified a variety of substantive issues and recommendations . In response to these stimuli, Geography undertook one more curriculum review that has resulted in significant change to almost all Geography degree programs, program requirements and course offerings. These changes are currently in the approval process and it is anticipated that they will become effective no later than Fall 2005.
The point of this brief history is to establish that as the assessment process has evolved, the Geography program has undergone concurrent major structural changes. Since the original Assessment Plan was approved, faculty resources and expertise as well as faculty perspective on assessment has changed. The curricular changes caused the original Assessment Plan to become obsolete. Revision of the 2003 Assessment Plan was not appropriate until the results of the Academic Program review were available. Once the APR Report was in place, Geography had a conceptual platform upon which it could base program modifications.
During Fall Semester 2004, the Geography faculty will redesign Geography Assessment Plan to reflect the curricular changes. Notable curricular changes include:
- New Degree Programs:
- Geography Bachelor of Science with Environmental Emphasis
- Geography Bachelor of Science with Geographic Information Systems/Spatial Analysis Emphasis
- Deleted Degree Program
- Geography Bachelor of Science - Comprehensive Degree with Environmental Emphasis
- Revised Degree Curricula
- Geography Bachelor of Science
- Geography Bachelor of Arts
- All Revised degree programs have been designed to provide greater flexibility to students in selection of courses for the various degree completion requirements.
- New Senior Geography Professional Level (Capstone) Courses (Proposed for "Direct Measures" for Assessment)
- Geography 410 -Geographic Technique and Thought
- Geography 443 - Special Topics: GIS
- Additional Writing Intensive course offerings:
- Geography 305 - Environmental Conservation (effective Spring 2005)
- Geography 441 - Special Topics in regional Geography: Great Plains (effective Spring 2005)
The revised Geography Assessment Plan will correspond with these changes.