Assessment Findings and Curricular Improvements Department of Psychology Master s and PhD Programs. Assessment Measures

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1 Assessment Findings and Curricular Improvements Department of Psychology Master s and PhD Programs Assessment Measures The Department of Psychology uses the following measures to assess departmental learning outcomes: Grades, course evaluations, and enrollment totals for Statistical Methods I (PSY 705), Statistical Methods I (PSY 706), Proseminar in Cognitive, Social, and Affective Psychology (PSY 710), and Research Methods in Psychology (PSY 811) Comprehensive exams Progression through the programs Assessment Findings Course Enrollments, Grades, and Evaluation: The Department of Psychology analyzed course grades, evaluation, and enrollment data in PSY 705 (Statistical Methods I), PSY 706 (Statistical Methods II), and PSY 811 (Research Methods Psychology) for a five-year period (Fall 2003 through Fall 2007), and PSY 710 (Proseminar in Cognitive, Social, and Affective Psychology) for a three-year period (Fall 2005 through Fall 2007). 1) Statistical Methods I (Appendix A): During the period examined, enrollment ranged from 13 to 23 students with the unusual exception of the enrollment of eight students in the Fall 2004 term. The vast majority of students (92%) in Statistical Methods I had good to exceptional performance (B- to A+), with the mean course grades ranging from 3.32 to Over the period analyzed, three students withdrew from the course, one had an incomplete in the course and two students received Cs, considered low grades at the graduate level. Enrollment increases reflected (1) an increase in numbers of MA student recruited, and (2) a decision to have more of our MA students in this course as opposed to an alternative course in another Department that some students considered too easy. On the course evaluations for the two years in which data are available, the course and instructor mean ratings decreased about 1.5 points (from 8.22 to 7.00 out of ten for the rating of the course, and 8.50 to 6.95 out of ten for the rating of the instructor). Since the instructor was constant across the two years, it may reflect the increasing class size together with an increase in the variability in student preparation. 2) Statistical Methods II (Appendix B): During the period examined, enrollment fluctuated between 7 and 15 students. The vast majority of students (98%) in Statistical Methods II had good to exceptional performance (B- to A+), with the mean course grades ranging from 3.39 to 3.77 and a trend toward slightly lower grades over

2 the years. Over the period analyzed, one student failed the course. This course is required of all Ph.D. students as well as MA Human Factors students, but is optional for General MA students. Yearly fluctuations in enrollment reflect the student self-selection as well as areas of interest. The one year with the lowest GPA was a function of the individual student who failed the course. On the course evaluations for the two years in which data are available, the course mean rating increased by 1.2 points (from 8.71 to 9.89 out of ten), and the mean rating of the instructor increased by about 2 points (from 7.46 to 9.44 out of ten). The same instructor taught the course both years. This individual has received high ratings for a number of years (previously collected on departmental forms not in the University database) in a course that students deem difficult. 3) Research Methods in Psychology (Appendix C): During the period examined, enrollment increased from 11 to 21 students. The vast majority of students (98%) in Research Methods in Psychology had good to exceptional performance (B- to A+), with average grades ranging from 3.41 to Over the period analyzed, one student withdrew from the course. The increase in enrollment was largely a function of the decision to collapse our MA and Ph.D. methods courses into one course. This was in response to our available teaching resources, the increase in quality of admitted MA students, and the availability of a faculty member in the Department able to handle a larger class. On the course evaluations for the two years in which data are available, the course and instructor mean ratings decreased slightly (from 8.93 to 8.00 out of ten for the rating of the course, and 9.33 to 8.65 out of ten for the rating of the instructor). Research Methods is typically a demanding class for students. The high ratings on the course evaluations reflect a successful approach to a joint MA/Ph.D. class. 4) ProSeminar in Cognitive, Social, and Affective Psychology (Appendix D): During the period examined, enrollment remained between 22 and 28 students. The vast majority of students (98%) in this course had good to exceptional performance (B- to A+), with average grades ranging from 3.76 to Over the period analyzed, one student withdrew from the course and one had an incomplete in the course. This was a new required course for all graduate students, both Ph.D. and MA. Small enrollment fluctuations reflect the size of incoming classes. On the course evaluations for the two years in which data are available, the course and instructor mean ratings were consistent (7.80 and 8.00 out of ten for the rating of the course, and 8.50 and 8.81 out of ten for the rating of the instructor). Students indicated that they found this new course, introduced in fall, 2005, to be both intellectually stimulating and conducive to more interaction among the students. Enrollment, Comprehensive Exam Passage, and Completion (Appendices E and F): MA Enrollment, Comprehensive Exam Passage, and Completion:

3 General MA. 80 of the 85 MA students during the period examined were in the MA General program. From 2000 to 2006, numbers of new students ranged from 6 to 17. Starting in 2005, the Department made renewed efforts to recruit a larger class of MA students. Those efforts have been successful resulting in a substantial increase in entering class size during the last two years examined while increasing the quality of enrolled students. 68% of students passed comprehensive exams during that period; none failed the exam; 59% graduated. No students were dismissed from the program because of failure to progress. Human Factors MA. The Human Factors MA program typically admits one student each year, although there are some years in which no new students are admitted. During the period analyzed, 4 of the 5 students passed comps and graduated. One student left from the program during the first year having decided to enter another field of study. PhD Enrollment, Comprehensive Exam Passage, and Completion All Ph.D. students in the Department first obtain an MA degree as part of their progression through the Ph.D. requirements. Applied Experimental. The Applied Experimental Ph.D. program typically enrolls 1 or 2 students per year. During the period analyzed, all 11 students successfully completed their comprehensive exams. Four of the students have graduated, 1 transferred to another program (coincident with her advisors moving to another institution), and the remaining 6 are still completing their studies. Although students are encouraged to complete in 4-5 years, many have extended beyond that period, in part because they can pursue research with faculty sponsored grants. Several of the students have longer time to completion because of a transition period when their advisor moved to another university. Clinical. The Clinical Psychology program is the Department s largest PhD program. From 2000 to 2006, the total new enrollment was 42 and it ranged from five to seven per year. Two students withdrew from the program for personal reasons. The remaining 40 all passed their comprehensive exam within two years. It typically takes 6-7 years to graduate. That number includes a one-year internship program. Placement in internships is usually very successful with occasional challenges with geographic constraints. Human Development. From 2000 to 2006, only one new student enrolled in this program, since the Provost suspended further admission to the program. That one student successfully completed the program after 5 years. Curricular Improvements for Master s Program and Ph.D. Program In large part as a response to requirements for broad and general training for the American Psychological Association (APA) accreditation of our Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program, we introduced a ProSeminar (PSY710) in As a mean to provide a common experience across all graduate students, this same course was instituted as a requirement for both MA and Ph.D. students in Psychology. During its three-year period ( ) it fostered more cohesion among the students in addition to providing a broader base of core knowledge in the field.

4 Following feedback from APA, the course structure was changed starting in the academic year. The one-semester ProSeminar was replaced with a two-semester sequence, Historical and Biological Foundations (PSY709) and Cognitive and Social Foundations (PSY710). This new sequence provides greater exposure to core areas in the field before beginning more specialized courses. It is required of all students, providing a common base of training and helping to improve dialogue among the MA and Ph.D. students. We will continue to monitor how this new foundations approach serves our students. Although our Statistics sequence (PSY705 and PSY706) has been relatively successful as measured by grades and evaluations, we have responded to two concerns. First, feedback from MA students who had been taking an alternative statistics course in another department indicated that the alternative course did not cover the material they needed to know. Second, we recognized that increasing numbers of Ph.D. students were using techniques that were not covered in our current sequence. The Department conducted a survey of faculty and student statistical needs; departmental Advanced Statistics Committee reviewed those results and made recommendations to the Chair. Following that analysis, it was decided to revise our Statistics curriculum to (1) provide more integration of the two semesters, thereby reducing overlap, (2) continue to provide a common course for Ph.D. and appropriately prepared MA students, and (3) include additional material introducing advanced statistical techniques at the end of the second semester. A third statistics course was considered, but it was determined that the individual student needs were too disparate, and that additional training was best provided through research laboratories in the Department. Since there was an increase in the quality of admitted MA students, it was decided in 2006 to combine the MA and Ph.D. students into a single Research Methods class (PSY811), almost doubling the enrollment. Grades have been good, and evaluations are very positive, so it is our intention to maintain this new approach to Research Methods. Our strategic plan called for emphasis on two areas, Children, Families and Cultures and Neuroscience approaches in Psychology. The first area is supported through regular meetings and collaboration among interested faculty. It is still somewhat difficult to fully support research in this area, since there is currently no option to recruit Developmental Ph.D. students. The Department plans to restructure its programs in a way that it can recruit non-clinical students to the Children, Families, and Culture specialization. The second area of strategic emphasis, neuroscience, has historically been less well represented among Department faculty. Two new hires, one in Cognitive Neuroscience and one in Clinical have added significantly to the emphasis on neuroscience training. In addition to the Biological foundations portion of PSY710, a new course in Cognitive Neuroscience (PSY759) has been added to the graduate curriculum. In addition, a Neuropsychology Assessment (PSY715) course has been added to the longstanding Introduction to Neuropsychology (PSY714) course. Grades in courses, course evaluations, and comprehensive exam passage rates are all encouraging. Completion rates for Ph.D. students are very high, although they take somewhat longer than desired. Completion rates for MA students have fluctuated significantly in the five-

5 year period examined. Completion rate and timing appear to reflect two key factors. First there are considerations unrelated to progress in our programs. Many of our MA students would like to continue with doctoral programs, and leave if that opportunity presents itself elsewhere. Occasionally, a graduate student will leave for family reasons. A second key factor is the financial burden on the students. A small number of our Ph.D. students are supported on faculty research grants and tuition waivers, and those students are generally able to focus on their studies. Some students also receive University scholarships, which are essential in our ability to recruit students, but do not provide living expenses. A number of Ph.D. students receive partial support as teaching assistants; although this typically covers partial tuition as well, the students often need to work to support themselves and cover their academic expenses. A very few of our MA students receive some faculty grant support. Many of our competitor institutions have university or department funds that cover graduate student expenses, and we often lose some of our best applicants to such programs. The faculty are aware of this situation and the importance of external support for students continues to be a departmental priority, despite the increasing difficulty in securing funding. The importance of research grants has been included as key component of both our hiring and promotion procedures. A departmental Graduate Student Financial Aid committee is in place, and we make every effort to be sensitive to individual student needs within the existing constraints.

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