Assessment Tools

Assessment Tools

Advanced Standing

Advanced standing is a requirement that all undergraduates must meet in order to take upper division classes. While there have been slight changes in the requirement over the years, it has been in effect for over a decade. The advanced standing requirement serves as one of the major assessment and quality management tools of the program. It has three components, a coursework requirement; a GPA (Grade Point Average) requirement; and an examination requirement.

Coursework and GPA Requirements

The coursework requirement for advanced standing is comprised of computer science and mathematics classes as required for the different emphases in the undergraduate major. Students must receive a grade of at least C- in each course. The GPA requirement is a minimum of 2.0. This GPA requirement applies to both the advanced standing requirement, and the student’s overall GPA. The advanced standing GPA is computed using courses taken at USU and those specific courses transferred for advanced standing classes. The overall GPA is computed using only the USU GPA

Course Examinations and Homework

To a large extent, the content of an examination is the responsibility of the instructor. The department does not give common exams. Examinations and homework assignments represent an important assessment tool for all courses. Examples of exams and homework assignments for all computer Science courses are maintained in the department office are made available for the ABET review process. These items are central to each instructor’s self-assessment of their course. They also have a significant impact on the grade students receive in a class and thus impact advanced standing. Faculty course self-assessment results are significantly influenced by the performance of students on exams and homework.

Department Faculty Meetings

A very important assessment tool is the discussions that take place during monthly faculty meetings and the yearly department retreat. In fact, while the data may come from other sources, all issues concerning the program are discussed during these meetings and it is in these meetings that decisions are made. Copies of department meeting minutes are maintained in the department office and are available to the ABET review team.

Industrial Advisory Board  

On a regular basis the department meets with industry representatives, graduates of our program, and graduate school representatives. During these meetings, discussions are held about our program, the curriculum, graduate goals, etc.

Course Evaluations 

Department and University policy requires that student evaluations be given for every course, every semester. While there is little information to be acquired from the evaluations with respect to department student outcomes, there is feedback given on the quality of the instruction. Quality teaching is an important element of the department's mission statement. As such, these evaluations represent an important data point or indicator of the quality of instruction in a class. Teacher evaluations are reviewed each semester by the class instructor and by the department head.

Course Direct Measures

Process Description: Course Direct Measures (CDMs) are designed to be the assessment points most closely associated with student coursework. An example of a CDM is provided below. They are targeted assignments in courses that support SOs. CDMs have been implemented in the department since Fall 2012. For each CDM, the responsible faculty member evaluates each student on a 5-point scale:

  1. student fails to demonstrate understanding of concepts required for student outcome
  2. student fails to meet minimum criteria for success for this student outcome
  3. student barely meets minimum criteria for success for this student outcome
  4. student clearly demonstrates evidence of success for this student outcome
  5. student exhibits outstanding performance for this student outcome

Frequency: Every semester, by end of semester, organized by ACC.

Expected Attainment: 80% of respondents score 3 or above on each CDM.

As an example of a CDM, CS1400 – Introduction to CS – is mapped to student outcome (c) (an ability to design, implement, and evaluate a computer-based system, process, component, or program to meet desired needs).  The report for this CDM is given in the following figure.  Prior to the start of the semester, the Assessment Coordination Committee works with the instructor to determine one assignment for that course during the semester that will be used for evaluating student outcome (c), in this case the results of Exam 2, which covers material directly related to the desired student outcome.

All CDMs share the same Assessment Rubric, but the assignment for individual problem used to make the assessment, as well as the subjective decision as what criteria is used to make the categorization, is left up to the instructor.  Thus in a very direct sense, these evaluations are the informed opinion of the instructor of record for the course on how the students performance on the selected assignment meets the Assessment Rubric.

In practice, many courses are taught by a small subset of the faculty, and so there is some degree of continuity from year to year.  The mapping of student outcomes to specific courses for which CDMs are requested is the same as the table provided in Criteron 3.  

At the end of the evaluation period, the category percentages and numbers of students in the measure for each CDM is compiled, and the percentage above the expected attainment for that CDM is calculated.  

How the process is documented and maintained: The department head prepares a report of the CDMs that are presented to the faculty at the annual Fall retreat, and become part of the minutes of the retreat.

Undergraduate Proficiency Exams

Process Description:  The Undergraduate Proficiency Exam (UPEs) are administered to CS students as they take CS 3000 – Undergraduate Seminar.  There is a post-introductory exam administered to all CS students to provide a snapshot of information learned in the undergraduate sequence (CS I, II, and III) that covers algorithm analysis, recursion, binary search trees, hash tables, priority queues, sorting, disjoint sets, and graphs.  Additionally, there is a Unix exam, and an ethics exam.

All CS students are required to take CS 3000, a 1-hour P/F class, before they are fully admitted into the program.  CS students may not take any course numbered higher than CS 3000 until they complete that class. CS 3000 has several components, including an undergraduate requirements seminar, Unix tools primer, ethics as related to computing unit, resume and interviewing workshop, and pre-professional evaluation sequence (where the USEs are administered).

The exams are presented to the students in an electronic format in the form of multiple choice questions covering topics ranging from how to write a recursive function to how an AA-tree maintains balance.  There is a separate UPE for each of the three courses in the programming sequence, one for the UNIX tools component, and one for the ethics unit.  

Summary results are provided for the Unix and Ethics exams, but the Algorithms exam is closely monitored to see how students perform on various components of the exam.

Frequency: Every semester, by the end of the semester, organized by Department Head

Expected Attainment: Unix: 70% correct; CS3: 50%; Ethics: 50%

How the process is documented and maintained: The department head prepares a report of the CDMs that are presented to the faculty at the annual Fall retreat, and become part of the minutes of the retreat.

Senior Surveys/Exit Interviews

Completed by:  Department Head, every semester, due end of finals week.

Expected Attainment: 80% of students answer each SO-related question with a response of N, A, or SA.

Summary of the results of the process:  Summary results for the Senior Exit Surveys are provided in the following table.

How the process is documented and maintained: The department head prepares a report of the CDMs that are presented to the faculty at the annual Fall retreat, and become part of the minutes of the retreat.