next Institutional Effectiveness: Educational Programs

The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses whether it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: educational programs, including student learning.

Link to Original Submission

Off Site Committee Review Findings

While evidence of the application of the "assessment cycle"' substantially exists in many programs, evidence is lacking in others; for example, Chemistry and Physics focus on course-level rather than program level-assessment. Also, some programs "plan to use results for improvements" yet fail to identify specific improvements. On the other hand, evidence for improvements in Engineering and Juvenile Justice/Psychology is strong. The institution might consider providing evidence of program-level assessment and improvements for all program offerings. Further, while all evidence was not based on student-self report, the institution might want to consider increasing the number of direct measures of student learning utilized at the program level.

Evidence from PVAMU's considerable specialized accreditation activities is presented, but demonstrated curricular improvements arising from the embedded assessment requirements are not universally evident in the documents provided. While the Architecture document clearly emphasizes curricular improvements, the Teacher Education document says little about curricular improvements arising from the accreditation process (pp. 41 – 44, NCATE).

Prairie View A& M Response to Off Site Review

The off site review specifies two primary concerns: first, lack of evidence for assessment cycles in all programs, and second, lack of demonstrated curricular improvements based on assessment.

All academic programs at Prairie View A&M University assess data, whether from student performance, peer institution comparisons, demands of accrediting bodies, or other measures, to spur effective change. Each degree-granting program has its own strategic plan that specifies outcomes, measures, and targets for successive cycles. Assessment plans from 2004 through 2008 from Nursing, Agriculture and Human Sciences, Education, Business, Arts and Sciences, and Architecture demonstrate the early stages of academic assessment at the University [1], as do assessment cycle tables from 2005-2006 [2].

New detailed assessment cycle forms from the 2009-2013 plans, completed in late fall 2009, are available as evidence of program-level assessment across all academic disciplines. These plans can be viewed by clicking on the link by each College or School name, which will take you to a directory of each program's assessment plans.

Below, one or two selected assessment activities reflecting curricular improvements and/or student performance are described briefly on a program by program basis. Unless otherwise indicated, supporting documentation is the assessment cycle form.

College of Agriculture and Human Sciences [3]

The College seeks outside assistance in improving the learning experience for students. For example, in 2004, an external four-person review team visited the College to suggest changes to program structure and updated and competitive agriculture degree plans with strong foundations in science [4]. Faculty have been working on improved assessment measures over the last several years in the following degree programs:

B.S., Agriculture
When concerns arose about students' communication skills, a diagnostic test was implemented to assess student learning outcome 3, "students have acquired the skills to communicate in a written and oral manner about issues related to food and agricultural sciences." In 2008-2009, 60% of students achieved satisfactory performance on the exam, and 80% were judged successful in preparing oral presentations using PowerPoint.

B.S.H.S, Family and Community Services
Faculty in this program assess eight student learning outcomes through assignments such as oral presentations and family projects. Although satisfactory levels were reached in 2008-2009 on almost all outcomes, the failure rate was higher than expected. Faculty are considering more field trips, case studies with a problem-solving focus, and surveys of consumer practices in the food, lodging and hospitality industries to improve learning throughout the program [5].

B.S., Human Nutrition and Food
Embedded exam questions help determine mastery over learning outcomes. In 2008-2009, 73 students were evaluated for their ability to identify the role of nutrition and food in health and disease status to assess progress on outcome 2, "ability to recommend solutions to basic problems in the foods." When results showed that an 89% satisfactory level in the basics, well beyond expectations, faculty decided to revise the curriculum to include updated information about the American Dietetic Association's Nutrition Care Process to challenge students further and to better prepare them to become registered dieticians [5].

M.S., Agricultural Economics
Three student learning outcomes include awareness and understanding of economic principles; application of the scientific process and experimental design; and knowledge of major issues and problems in agricultural economics. The program has an assessment plan and data collection cycle based on these revised outcomes.

M.S., Human Sciences
In this program, which emphasizes courses in counseling, development, and therapy, faculty are concentrating on extending the program from its current requirements, 36-39 semester credit hours, to 48 hours, which will meet the state requirements of licensure in Marriage and Family Therapy. Results of assessments from 2008-2009, particularly for Student learning outcomes 1 (demonstrate theoretical and experiential understandings development, individual and marriage and family counseling theories, group counseling, and special areas methods and skills), 2 (demonstrate an understanding of effective and dysfunctional human behavior) and 3 (demonstrate an understanding of the nature and needs of individuals at all developmental levels) also have raised the need for a comprehensive exam or capstone course [5].

M.S., Animal Science
Graduate students in this area are assessed on three student learning outcomes, primarily through the creation of their thesis reports: data collection, literature review, and successful oral and written presentation of the M.S. thesis. All three measures are new for 2009-2010, as indicated in the program's assessment cycle.

M.S., Soil Science
In this program, data are collected on the number of students who attend professional meetings in the field, the number of students who complete a thesis, and the number of students who master data collection, essential for conducting graduate-level research. In 2008-2009, 50% of enrolled students went to soil science meetings, which helped guide them in future course selection and possible research topics [5].

School of Architecture [6]

B.S., Architecture
M.Arch, Architecture
In the 2004 academic year, the School of Architecture established its internship program in response to conditions not met in the 2000 NAAB review. Two professors who were also licensed architects were selected as coordinators for the IDP (Intern Development Program), and a mentoring program for fifth year M.Arch students was instituted, wherein they spend one day per week in the offices of a major firm in Houston or other major cities working on their final, comprehensive design project [7]. During the pilot semester of the program, all nine students involved in mentoring were offered full-time employment upon graduation.

Surveys of recent graduates and telephone interviews with major local employers revealed the need for instruction in Building Information Management (B.I.M.) software. To address this important knowledge, Autodesk Revit, a popular architecture B.I.M. was installed in the main computer teaching lab. Seven faculty members completed training in REVIT between 2006 and 2008, and five attended a BIM Workshop in April 2009. With these structures and training in place, a Special Topics course in B.I.M. was offered in the graduate program in Architecture, where students are allowed 6 semester credit hours of electives, and an undergraduate Special Topics class was offered for the first time in Fall 2009 [8].

B.S., Construction Science
In Fall 2006, the course description for CONS4003: Construction Internship was changed to allow students to take the course not just once but twice for credit, to improve job prospects for students. Currently, Construction Science majors must complete two internships in order to graduate, and employment rates for graduates in this field have improved. In the summer of 2007, three of the College's seven senior interns who received offers for full-time employment upon graduation were in Construction Science [9].

M.C.D., Community Development
Motivated by technological changes in the field, the Master of Community Development program added a new course, CODE 5083: Demography and GIS in Community Planning, to its core requirements. Eleven other classes, including 9 semester credit hours of required studio and practica as well as electives in finance and historic preservation, also were added in 2006 as a result of comparisons of the M.C.D. program with those at other universities and became effective in 2007. In 2007, after examination of employment placement rates revealed possible weaknesses in real estate, four new classes in real estate, agency law, and contract law were added to the course inventory as electives [10].

College of Arts and Sciences [11]

B.S., Biology
Graduating seniors take the Major Field Test (MFT) in Biology. In Spring 2009, 73% of Prairie View's examinees scored at the national mean, with strong performance in molecular biology and genetics (91% at national mean) and weakest results in population biology, evolution, and ecology (39%). Due to low performance, faculty are in the process of creating an upper-level ecology elective [12].

Student learning outcome 1 states that "students demonstrate knowledge of the chemical basis of life," knowledge taught the foundational courses for the major, BIOL 1015 and 1025. When assessment of exams revealed that 40% of students had unsatisfactory performance, in Fall 2009 the department piloted a section of BIOL 1015 with only 32 students, compared to the typical 128, to determine whether smaller class size would impact learning. Based on favorable results, the Department of Biology plans to run all BIOL 1015 sections with no more than 32 students starting in Fall 2010.

B.S., Chemistry
Analysis of student engagement in research between Fall 2003 and 2005 revealed almost no student conference presentations or co-authored papers, which are fundamental activities in realizing Student learning outcome 2, student competence in research, and 3, ability to design and carry out experiments. To improve student's research, starting in 2006, the Chemistry faculty invested in SciFinder, an online research tool. With a $250,000 NSF grant, the department purchased a 400 MHZ FT-NMR machine to enhance opportunities for research, and CHEM 4051, an independent research course, was redesigned to emphasize problem solving, critical thinking, and both oral and written presentations. After these changes, the number of student research presentations went from 2 in 2005 to 5 in 2008; co-authored publications increased from 2 to 7 during the same time period. The number of chemistry majors more than doubled as well, from 20 to 58 [13].

M.S., Chemistry
Students in the M.S. program are assessed on the number of journal publications and conference presentations and the quality of the thesis project and its defense. In 2007-2008, 2 of 5 enrolled students (40%). presented their work at regional conferences, below the 50% benchmark. As a result, faculty began to look for external support funds for student travel and for 2008, implemented a new indirect measure, a student survey, to pinpoint problems [14].

B.A., Communications
The Communications program has five student learning outcomes addressed throughout the curriculum. For instance, Outcome 2, "demonstrate proficiency in adapting communication to a variety of rhetorical situations," is introduced in a core speech class and then reinforced in seven other classes to maximize mastery. Mastery is determined using embedded exam questions or targeted assignments that are correlated with student self-perception surveys. In 2008-2009, average scores on a variety of direct instruments exceeded benchmarks, which led faculty to increase the expectations for assignments [14].

B.A., English
After a comparison of the English B.A. with programs at nine peer universities, faculty redesigned the degree plans to improve preparation for graduate school and for teacher certification [15]. With new course requirements, students' ability to analyze a range of literary works (student learning outcome 3) has improved steadily. Additionally, to improve outcome 4, "students will write informed, organized essays that demonstrate appropriate engagement with primary and secondary sources," faculty decided in 2006 that every English course, including creative writing, would include a research paper. In 2008, when the outcome was assessed again in the senior capstone course, average scores on three items rose substantially, from 2.7 to 3.5 on a 4.0 scale [14].

M.A., English
Curricular examination, based on program comparisons with eight peer universities, led to two new degree plan options and ten new courses in 2008. Since the redesign, the first two candidates have graduated from the program [16].

B.A., Spanish
In lower-division Spanish courses, pass rates were low, which prompted the introduction of online software called MySpanishLab to improve students' ability to meet outcome 1, "demonstrate the use of academic Spanish vocabulary and structures." 124 different exercises in vocabulary and grammar were assigned. In Fall 2008, the average score was just 42% for 330 students and in Spring 2009, with a greatly expanded student population of 841, the average rose slightly to 46.2%.

In upper-division courses, targeted exercises in translation, phonetic transcription, composition, syntax, and orthography, as well as pre-tests to gauge preparation for coursework, are used. In 2008-2009, students did so well with outcome 3, "produce quality written compositions in academic Spanish," that instructors will proceed to more challenging topics and rhetorical devices [14].

B.S., Mathematics
Because mathematics is a sequential program, improvement in program outcomes often depends on targeted treatment of crucial prerequisite courses. In 2007-2008, for outcome 1, "demonstrate basic mathematical computational skills and distinguish uses of concepts in calculus, algebra and differential equations," a common final exam was designed for three core classes, with a target performance of 75% of students reaching 70%. When results fell far below the benchmark in two courses (58% and 56%), the department set up tutorial sessions twice each week and also worked to fine-tune rubrics to pinpoint student weaknesses more accurately. Because this approach worked well, it has expanded to eight courses, and for an additional correlative measure, starting in Fall 2008, the ETS Mathematics Major Field Test was implemented [14].

M.S., Mathematics
Outcome 1 for mathematics graduate students asks them to "demonstrate a command of principles of general mathematics and the special disciplines in their area of interest." In 2007-2008, degree candidates completed their oral thesis defenses or project reports with a pass rate of 62% (5 out of 8 students). To strengthen advanced math skills and prepare students for the rigor of these reports, faculty reinstated a comprehensive exam in algebra, mathematical analysis, and topology, to be taken when students are accepted to full candidacy [14].

B.A. and B.M., Music
In 2006, the Department of Music and Theater hosted a site visit from a National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) team to evaluate the undergraduate music degree programs. As a direct result of feedback received about the lack of "formal assessment of content knowledge and/or specific skills other than the applied primary instrument jury and recital requirements," the faculty altered a core learning outcome and associated assessment procedures. Starting in Spring 2007, all music majors must receive at least 80% on an upper-level exam over "basic music theory terms, common practices, and techniques of analysis as they apply to Western Music" (student learning outcome 1 of 5) in order to enroll in advanced courses in music analysis. In 2008-2009, 80% of students met the benchmark, prompting revisions in the four-course Music Theory sequence to offer better preparation [14].

B.A., Theater
Practicum assessments and upper-level reviews occur during a major’s fourth semester; poor evaluations can prevent the student from enrolling in upper-level courses.

B.S., Physics
In 2006-2007, faculty compared Prairie View's physics curriculum to programs at six other universities, looking primarily at the hours required in the core, physics, math, and electives [17]. Based on their findings, faculty then revised the degree plan to reduce unrestricted electives and to add rigor in mathematics with a class in probability and statistics. More significantly, a customized "specialization" area replaced the minor requirement; this allows students to pursue advanced physics study in preparation for graduate school; follow a track in Computational Physics, applied Physics, or Medical Physics; or complete hours required for certification as a high school teacher in Texas. To further strengthen physics majors' preparation for teaching, four new courses were approved for Fall 2008, including Special Topics in Physics, Special Topics in Physical Science, Science of Everyday Life, and Modern Physics for Science Teachers [18].

B.A., History
As a means of assessing student learning outcome 2, "History graduates should demonstrate significant knowledge of major events and trends in their area of concentration," the history faculty typically used pre- and post-test results in four basic classes in American and world history. In 2008, the ETS Major Field Test was administered to six history students to gain a broader, more objective understanding of subject mastery. Four students scored in the bottom 5% compared to the national mean, while one scored in the top 15% [12]. Low scores in European history correlated with assessment results for Student learning outcome 5, understanding of chronology and different time periods. At least 33% of the top quartile of students missed questions about European history on a post-test administered in 2008 [14]. Based on these results, faculty proposed two new courses in European history and began plans for a comprehensive exam for majors and minors in their junior year, both to pinpoint weaknesses and to prepare students for the MFT.

B.A., Political Science
To improve majors' capacity "to explain the concepts, principles, theories and approaches used to understand and explain phenomena in political science" (student learning outcome 2), the degree plan core was expanded from 12 to 15 semester credit hours in 2008, adding POSC 2123: Public Administration. Mean scores from the ETS Political Science Major Field Test, administered to five students in 2008-2009, were 66% for analytical and critical thinking; 42% for methodology; and 30% for political thought with a benchmark of 70% in all three areas. To address deficiencies, faculty are increasing theory coverage in all upper-level major courses, including at least one critical reading and writing assignment on an important text in the field. More broadly, they are investigating the addition of a senior capstone course to give intensive coverage in methodology, political thought, and other areas related to program outcomes [12].

B.A., Social Work
In their most recent self-study for the Council on Social Work Education, program faculty indicated targeted courses for majors to take for the University core curriculum (ethics, biology, and anatomy and physiology) that offer the best preparation for advanced "professional foundation" courses in social work and better meet learning outcome 2, " apply knowledge and theoretical perspectives related to the biological, psychological, social, and cultural aspects of human behavior and social environment" and outcome 3, "demonstrate research process – including methodology and ethical issues." Also, a new class, SOWK 3213: Human and Cultural Diversity Social Work, is now required of all majors to improve mastery of outcome 2 and outcome 4, which involves working with "diverse populations." Assessment for all four learning outcomes is done using rubric-scored essay assignments [14].

B.A., Sociology
In sociology, faculty rely on course-embedded examination questions, assignments aligned with specific learning outcomes. Outcome 3, "employ methods that social and behavioral scientists use to investigate the human condition," was assessed in 2007 and again in 2009, with the same results; 63% of students were judged satisfactory at identifying appropriate methods. For the next cycle, as the assessment form for 2009-2013 shows, the assignment will be changed to the development of a research proposal for the study of a contemporary social issue to assess actual employment of methods.

M.A., Sociology
In 2007-2008, just 44% of students were able to clearly articulate an analysis of social phenomena, fundamental to learning outcome 1 for the program. A two-hour written exit exam has been introduced for 2009-2010 to formalize expectations for graduates.

College of Business [19]

To meet the rigorous continuing accreditation standards of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the College of Business uses not only ETS Major Field Tests but course-embedded assignments (exam questions, presentations, case studies) evaluated by an in-house assessment team and the Educational Benchmarks Inc. (EBI) survey of student satisfaction. Results are used to improve student learning across the College's many undergraduate and graduate programs.

B.B.A., Accounting
B.B.A., Finance
B.B.A., Management Information Systems
B.B.A., Management
B.B.A., Marketing

Because all students in the five undergraduate specialization areas of the College of Business take a common core of 33 semester credit hours in six academic areas (accounting, finance, MIS, business law, management, and marketing), assessment in these courses is widespread and is used to make improvements for all major programs.

Additionally, students take the ETS Major Field Test in Business in their senior capstone courses each spring. Between 2005 and 2007, mean percentages rose on six out of nine performance indicators, with the greatest improvements in marketing (16.8% increase) and international business (21.7% increase). Because mean scores in quantitative business analysis actually dropped 18.9%, MGMT 3023: Quantitative Methods was added to the Management degree plan, and tutorial services were strengthened in mathematics and statistics. Another course, MISY 2013: Fundamentals of Management Information Systems, also was added to the College's core requirements to ensure that all graduates were competitive with industry technology [20].

98 students took the MFT in 2008. 11.22% of scores were judged excellent, 53.06% of scores were judged acceptable, and 35.71% of scores were judged unacceptable. Once faculty received detailed results about students' performance on each item, they determined appropriate adjustments to make in nine different courses in Accounting, Economics, Management, Marketing, and Management Information Systems to improve student performance [21].

M.S., Accounting
After examining the pass rates for M.S. in Accounting graduates on the CPA exam, a faculty taskforce started a CPA exam review program and changed course content and pedagogy in three core courses, ACCT 5113, ACCT 5123, and ACCT 5133, directly related to learning outcome 1, "graduates will demonstrate an ability to think critically and to solve business problems." Embedded exam questions in each of these classes also are reviewed to determine content mastery [22].

M.B.A., General Business Administration
When results from the ETS MBA Major Field Test came back for 38 enrolled students and 55.26% of scores were deemed unacceptable, the graduate faculty launched a pilot learning/tutoring center in early 2009 to assist students.

Assessment of an exam question aligned to a specific learning outcome, "students will understand pricing strategy for firms with multinational sales," found 31.8% of the responses unacceptable. To counter this trend, economics faculty agreed to increase in-class examples, homework assignments, and real-life examples related to this topic [23].

College of Education [24]

The College of Education engages in continuous assessment for the National Council on the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and for exemplary student pass rates on state licensure exams; indeed, all programs have a learning outcome related to successful completion of certification tests. A Title III grant helped create the Educator Enhancement Preparation Laboratory to make materials, practice tests, and review sessions available to students to improve the pass rates in the Texas Examination of Educator Standards (TExES) test. Pass rates increased from 87.8% (2005) to 90% (2008). According to the most recent NCATE self-study, in 2005-2007, nine programs were below 80% in their aggregate TExES examinations. These were targeted with additional practice tests and study sessions [25].

B.S., Interdisciplinary Studies
To raise the level of communication competence among candidates, faculty introduced a writing sample and an interview as requirements for admission to Student Teaching. Even with the more rigorous standards, student teaching candidates increased 138% between Spring 2007 and Fall 2009, from 21 to 50.

With the introduction of TrueOutcomes online course management system to the campus, in Spring 2008 the faculty mandated a comprehensive Professional Electronic Portfolio (PEP) for each student, containing samples of oral and written work. The PEP is reviewed continuously, using standard rubrics depending on the type of artifact, for weaknesses so candidates are prepared both for student teaching and licensure exams. Just in the first two semesters of the PEP requirement, over 95% of approximately 1,000 candidates scored at least 3.5 out of 4.0 on items related to content knowledge. Due to the program’s success, faculty have continued the PEP program and expanded its contents to be more comprehensive in nature, with field experience journals, videos of teaching, and records of professional interactions [25].

In 2009, six new Interdisciplinary Studies degree plans were brought to the University Academic Council. Faculty in the College of Education compared the majors with those at other universities and noted that Prairie View's needed to be updated [26].

M.Ed., Educational Administration
The first learning outcome for this program is addressed via multiple assignments: group presentations, comprehensive plans to solve educational problems, and case studies. Student success is assessed using Domain I of the state's TExES Principal exam; in 2004-2005, 81% of the 31 candidates passed this section with a mean score of 257 (minimum 240 required). Since the goal is for all students to pass their exams, faculty have worked on syllabus alignment and instituted a departmental review session, offered twice each semester, for those preparing to take the TExES exam. Students also are given an in-house practice exam following the review [25].

The third learning outcome, "apply principles of effective leadership and management," is aligned with Domain III of the TExES Principal exam, and faculty reacted quickly in 2004-2005 where the pass rate on this section was only 68%. School administrators were assigned to team teach approximately five relevant courses, bringing practical experience to students [27].

M.A., M.Ed., M.S.Ed, Curriculum and Instruction
A program outcome is an increase in the number of graduates pursuing doctoral degrees or advanced certifications. In the most recent assessment cycle, two students proceeded to further study, and the program plans to have three graduates in the next cycle.

M.Ed., M.S.Ed., Special Education
One student learning outcome of the program is the capacity "to write a research proposal to conduct meaningful research in the area of special education," directly measured through a research assignment in a core class and through the number of student presentations at conferences. In the last assessment cycle, 80% of students met the benchmark on the assignment but only 2% presented research; new targets of 85% and 5% respectively have been set for the next cycle.

M.A., Counseling
In this program, a post-test is given to students before they take their state licensure exam to determine any weaknesses before the official test. Results are used on an individual basis. Starting in 2009-2010, at least 70% of candidates are expected to complete an internship or practicum as well.

Ph.D., Educational Leadership
In 2006-2007, when the state exam required for Principal Certification changed, faculty redesigned the Educational Leadership program to align program requirements with the three tested domains: school community leadership, instructional leadership, and administrative leadership. Two classes were removed from the required core and their content moved to courses in school law and special programs [1]. Since the redesign and with a new emphasis on research, including a student learning outcome about the ability “to design and utilize research studies,” there has been an increase in student publications and presentations at professional conferences. After just three years of the program’s existence, publications numbered 120.

B.S., Human Performance
M.Ed., Health
M.Ed., Health and Physical Education
Effective Fall 2010, the Department of Health and Human Performance will be the Department of Kinesiology and Allied Sciences. Working from student requests, particularly for a pre-physical therapy option; from comparisons with other universities like Ohio State and the University of Cincinnati; from in-house examination of NCATE licensure standards; and from examination of industry trends, faculty proposed dozens of new courses on new degree plans designed to attract more students and to meet market demands. All new courses were aligned with standards of the American Association of Health Education (AAHE) and the Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD) [28].

With a goal of continuous improvement, faculty for the M.Ed. in Health and Physical Education are developing in-house exit exams aligned with professional standards, with a target 70% pass rate, and instituting a culminating writing project in at least 20% of the total curricula. A new outcome for the M.S.Ed. in Health and Physical Education is completion of an applied research or thesis project with a goal of 75% candidate participation.

College of Engineering [29]

B.S., Chemical Engineering
B.S., Civil Engineering
B.S., Computer Science
B.S., Electrical Engineering
B.S., Electrical Engineering Technology
B.S., Computer Engineering
B.S., Computer Engineering Technology
B.S., Mechanical Engineering

The College of Engineering engages in broad outcomes-based assessment of its courses, coupled with indirect student survey measures. This is one of the reasons why seven of its eight degree programs are accredited by ABET; the eighth, computer engineering, was established in 2003 and is targeted for accreditation in 2010. Because assessment data for Outcome A, "an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering" indicate student achievement consistently below the target level in multiple engineering programs, it is highlighted as the primary example below to show how assessment data is analyzed and new approaches are implemented to improve learning.

To assess Outcome A, "an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering," assignments from 10 different sophomore, junior, and senior chemical engineering courses are analyzed routinely. When results fell below the target performance level of 75% in Fall 2005, the College recommended a first-semester freshman introductory course covering study skills, math in engineering, and engineering software. By Fall 2006, CHEG 1011: Introduction to Engineering and CHEG 1021: Introduction to Chemical Engineering Laboratory were approved and offered to incoming students [30].

Other departments found the same trends when they assessed Outcome A. In Fall 2006 four electrical engineering classes were identified for assessment, and results in 3 out of 4 classes failed to reach the 75% benchmark, with averages of 61.8%, 55%, and 65.6%. Low performance was seen in two of the four classes selected in civil engineering (56.4% and 57%) and in 2007-08 in two out of three courses identified for assessment in computer science (70% and 47%). The Department of Electrical Engineering examined ten different courses in 2006-2007, and while 4 out of 5 classes at the 3000 level failed to meet benchmarks, only 1 of the 5 courses at the 4000 level fell short of a 70% target.

Because foundational mathematics seemed to be the common denominator in low performance for Outcome A, three new engineering applications labs introduced in 2008 now must be taken as co-requisites for algebra and trigonometry, Calculus I, and Calculus II. Concepts from students' mathematics classes are reviewed and reinforced from an engineering perspective. The College theorizes that stronger mathematics skills will help students improve their problem solving and application of concepts. To this end, instructors also are being asked in 2009-10 to include more math practice problems in homework and quiz assignments, provide students with reading and homework assignments on simple engineering systems requiring use of mathematics, and offer tutorials on Engineering Equation Solver (EES) software and numerical analysis to students [31].

M.S., Computer Science
M.S., Computer Information Systems
According to these programs' detailed assessment cycles for 2009-2013, candidates are assessed using design projects, reports, presentations, and M.S. theses. In 2008-09, CIS students met the 80% benchmarks on three out of four learning outcomes, while CS students exceeded 80% on all four measures.

In both programs, outcomes include the "ability to apply knowledge of computing and/or analytical, and/or mathematical skills appropriate to the discipline," and this is measured in part by the number of students participating in research activities. Between 2004 and 2008, six CIS students worked on research, while approximately 20 CS majors did so. All student publications are displayed publicly to encourage peers to pursue research [30].

M.S., Engineering
This program has four outcomes—briefly, solving engineering problems, using advanced mathematics, conducting research, and applying engineering knowledge in practice. While the first three outcomes are evaluated via carefully constructed exams, the fourth is assessed by student participation in a graduate internship for the non-thesis degree plan. In 2007 and 2008, students exceeded the 80% benchmark for supervisor evaluation, but even so, based on suggestions in the student opinion survey, starting in the summer of 2009, the internship instructor provided closer monitoring with weekly reports from interns and supervisors [31].

M.S., Electrical Engineering
For learning outcome 2, " demonstrate communication skills for advanced technologies (written and oral)," faculty evaluated thesis projects according to standard rubrics. The oral communication scores on 4 out of 9 items, including use of visual aids, ability to answer questions, and confident speaking, fell below the benchmarks. Therefore, starting with the 2009-2010 academic year, all Master students who register in ELEG 5996: Thesis or ELEG 5913: Engineering Project are required to attend at least one seminar on presentation skills [31].

Ph.D., Electrical Engineering
To demonstrate mastery over Program Outcome 1, "strong knowledge in Electrical Engineering," doctoral students in this program must pass three, two-hour, written preliminary exams in topics they may select from the following: Microelectronics, Digital Systems, Power Engineering, Control Systems, Communications & Signal Processing, Computer Networks, and Engineering Mathematics. From 2004 to 2006, two of ten students enrolled failed their preliminary examinations and were dismissed from the program, for an overall pass rate of 80%. Since the faculty's goal for the outcome was 90% retention, they made copies of earlier preliminary examinations available for students to review and set up a formalized committee of examiners to set examinations and maintain consistency from year to year. With these changes implemented, between 2006 and 2008, all three doctoral candidates passed all of their preliminary exams. In Fall 2009, however, only four of eight examinees completed all three exams successfully on their first attempts. Because a second attempt is permitted, faculty are counseling students who failed on appropriate coursework to remedy content knowledge deficiencies [32].

College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology [33]

B.S., Criminal Justice
Review of results from the ETS Major Field Test from 2004 to 2008 uncovered weaknesses in students' mastery of criminology and statistics. Accordingly, a class in policy analysis was replaced in the core curriculum with two new classes, CRJS4923: Criminology and CRJS4983: Ethical Decision-Making in Criminal Justice. Additionally, to improve student mastery of the program's seven learning outcomes, the College created new courses addressing human trafficking, women in corrections, law and society, geographical information systems, women in criminal justice, and computer applications in the field [34]. Even results on student exit surveys have improved. In Spring 2005, 84% of respondents agreed that the program prepared them for careers in the field, while 99% agreed in Summer 2007 [35].

M.S., Juvenile Justice
Because students were struggling to complete their required M.S. thesis, faculty instituted a comprehensive exam option, similar to the Master of Arts programs in English and Sociology, for this online program. When students showed consistent failure in the statistics/methods section of the exam, however, faculty began alternating the delivery method of the required statistics course, JJUS 5963: Applied Statistical Methods and Computing, every semester between online and face to face to improve student mastery over concepts [35].

Ph.D., Juvenile Justice
Learning outcome 5, "produce scholarly research," is assessed using essays from research methods courses; conference papers; and dissertations. To improve writing skills, many classes started requiring an online research ethics course and an APA style and plagiarism course [34].

B.S., Psychology
Psychology faculty rely, in part, on the Major Field Test to assess student learning. Between 2004 and 2007, results of the six-area Psychology MFT have improved most in sensory and physiological psychology (mean score of 19.9 rose to 28), clinical and abnormal psychology (mean score of 31.5 rose to 48), and social psychology (mean score of 31 rose to 40). Guided by students' sub-scores on the MFT, faculty added course electives in reading and research (PSYC 4823) and cognitive psychology (PSYC 4513) in 2008 to improve student learning in program outcome 1, "demonstrate knowledge of developmental theories including cognitive and social development" and outcome 3, "demonstrate knowledge of theories related to memory types and processes." The department also introduced a new senior paper core requirement (PSYC 4843) to address deeper understanding of measurement and methodology and increased use of SPSS statistical software across the curriculum [34].

M.S., Juvenile Forensic Psychology
Based on feedback from field work supervisors, faculty updated psychological assessment tools.

Ph.D., Clinical Adolescent Psychology
The greatest improvement for student learning in this graduate program has come from an in-house clinic where students can practice their skills. After the introduction of this facility, the number of candidates' peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, and seminar presentations increased.

College of Nursing [36]

The College of Nursing is dedicated to helping students pass their state licensure exams; most curricular changes are designed to improve performance on nursing boards.

B.S., Nursing
To combat drop-outs, the College designed a Virtual Tutoring Retention Program for all five semester of clinical nursing coursework; updates, announcements, websites, and study materials are available to help students stay on track and master multiple learning outcomes regarding the nursing process, research findings, and ethical responsibility [37].

For the learning outcome "apply information and health care technology in the delivery of innovative nursing care for diverse populations,” students participate in Human Patient Simulation experiences in every clinical practicum course. Pre- and post-tests are given to gauge improvements in knowledge, and student feedback is used directly by faculty to improve the scenarios and course content taught about the patient conditions used in the simulation [38].

To prepare further for the NCLEX, the national board exam for Registered Nurses, students take multiple preliminary exams to pinpoint weaknesses. The College also uses practice standardized exams designed by the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI). According to the assessment cycle plan for 2009-13, in 2008-2009, 50% of course scores exceeded the national norms, and results are used to identify individual student deficiencies and overall patterns of weakness. In addition to ATI tests, the College requires a 4-5 hour comprehensive exam designed by faculty. When eleven students in the Fall 2007 graduating class did not pass their comprehensives, a review class was developed. In 2008-2009, 88% of the candidates scored 90 or more on the comprehensive exam by the third testing session.

As correlative evidence of outcome mastery, test scores are compared in-house assessments and student surveys. For the learning outcome "students will be able to incorporate research findings in nursing practice," candidates must score at least 80% on a research presentation and research poster. Even though 100% of the students met this requirement in 2008, only 82% of 98 students surveyed reported confidence in their ability to meet the learning outcome. For this reason, faculty teaching research-intensive courses have met to go over pedagogy and to update course content.

All of these interventions and changes have led to outstanding success on state licensure exams, rising from a 90% pass rate in 2002 to 100% in 2006. In 2007 and 2008, pass rates have been 98.9% and 98.2% respectively [39]

M.S., Nursing (Nurse Education)
In 2008, four courses were added to the Nurse Education concentration, including online courses to increase program enrollment [40].

M.S., Nursing (Practitioner)
The passage rate for the National Certification Examination (AANC or AANP) for nurse practitioners at the graduate level has been 100% from 2004 to 2008. Faculty credit this success in large part to a certification review course and low program attrition, due to plentiful part-time course offerings [41].

Additional supporting documentation is available on-site in college, departmental and unit offices.

Additional Supporting Documentation and Links

© 2009 Prairie View A&M University