MSU Departmental Assessment Plan

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1 Department: Psychology MSU Departmental Assessment Plan Department Head: Richard A. Block Assessment Coordinator: Richard A. Block Degrees/Majors/Options Offered by Department B.S. in Psychology with options in Psychological Science and Applied Psychology M.S. in Applied Psychology 1

2 Departmental Assessment Plan Department of Psychology, Montana State University April 2007 Degree Objectives Psychology is a social-behavioral science and thus entails the scientific study of social, cognitive, and behavioral processes of humans and other animals. We offer a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in psychology that prepares students for graduate study in psychology and related fields or for employment in applied settings. Our undergraduate curriculum introduces students to core areas of psychology including abnormal, developmental, industrial and organizational psychology, learning and motivation, memory and cognition, physiological psychology, research methods and statistics, sensation and perception, and social psychology. Our undergraduate coursework emphasizes scientific theory, terminology, research methodology, and empirical findings in psychology s major subfields. Through upper-division coursework and personal contact with faculty in research, our undergraduate students gain valuable knowledge and research experience in several areas of psychology. No grade less than C in any Psychology course is counted toward graduation. We also offer a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in psychology that prepares our students for entry into a Ph.D. program in psychology (or in related disciplines or professions), or for employment in various areas of psychology. Expected Undergraduate Competencies 1. Discipline-specific knowledge. Core competencies at the introductory level in psychology, biology, and writing are required of all undergraduate Psychology majors. In addition, all Psychology majors must be familiar with the various scientific methods used to conduct psychological research, as well as the appropriateness, strengths, and limitations of each scientific method relative to the various types of research. These research methods are taught in PSY 100, PSY 221, PSY 231, and in our discipline-specific courses. All Psychology majors must develop a PSY 493R (Senior Thesis Capstone) research project based on either their undergraduate research experience in PSY 489R/490R or their field practicum experience in PSY Communication skills. In addition to Core 2.0 communication skills developed in COM 110US or CLS101US, all Psychology majors are expected to present results of their classroom, field, and research experiences both orally and via standard technical writing appropriate to the discipline. In addition, all Psychology majors are expected to work and communicate effectively in small work groups, and to communicate basic ideas and results of their research projects in face-toface and one-on-one discussion situations in classes. Also, a basic ability to communicate effectively using electronic media, including telephone, , and PowerPoint, is expected of all Psychology majors. 3. Problem-solving skills. Problem-solving, critical thinking, and other analytical and statistical skills are emphasized throughout the curriculum in Psychology via courses such as PSY 100, PSY 221, PSY 231, and PSY 305. These skills are also taught and learned as students develop and conduct research, field practicum, or internship projects and in the context of completing assignments in upper-division courses. 2

3 Undergraduate Student Learning Assessment during Courses 1. Discipline-specific knowledge. All Psychology majors are required to have a grade of C or better in all Psychology courses (or equivalent transfer courses) required for a B.S. degree in psychology. Knowledge of research methods in psychology, for non-transfer students, is assessed by the completion of PSY 221 (Research Design and Analysis I) and PSY 231 (Research Design & Analysis II). Transfer students may demonstrate the required research methods knowledge by completing an equivalent course at another institution or by personal interview with faculty specializing in the teaching of research methods in psychology. Knowledge of basic and applied psychology, for non-transfer students, is assessed by completion of the department s required and elective psychology courses. Transfer students may demonstrate the required knowledge by completing equivalent courses at another institution. Each student is required to complete a minimum of three credits of Undergraduate Research (PSY 489R/490R or US 489R/490R) or Field Practicum (PSY 491) with a P grade. In PSY 491, grades are based on a written summary of the project and an evaluation by the project supervisor(s). Prior to graduation, advanced competencies in Psychology are evaluated by student performance in the Senior Thesis Capstone course (PSY 493R). Completion of this course requires submission of a written thesis and a public, oral or poster presentation of the completed research project. The oral or poster presentation is designed to simulate a professional conference presentation. By the end of this course, each student will have demonstrated competency in problem-solving, critical thinking, and oral and written communication, in addition to demonstrating a grasp of basic psychological knowledge and its application to a specific field work, internship, or research problem. 2. Communication skills. As part of Core 2.0, all psychology students are required to take COM 110US or CLS 101US and also ENGL 121W (College Writing I). Communication skills are also assessed in-class in several Psychology courses. One goal of the PSY 493 Senior Thesis Capstone course is to evaluate students abilities to organize and present their thesis projects orally and in writing. 3. Problem-solving skills. Problem-solving is central to the required Psychology curriculum. Courses such as PSY 282 (Introduction to Learning), PSY 305 (Applied Critical Thinking), PSY 332 (Behavior Modification), PSY 341 (Learning & Motivation), PSY 361 (Memory & Cognition), and PSY 452 (Social Psychology) emphasize various aspects of problem solving, critical thinking, reasoning, problem analysis, and decision making. In addition, students receive basic training, and must demonstrate their ability to apply problem-solving, in PSY 221 (Research Design and Analysis I) as well as PSY 231 (Research Design & Analysis II). Both of these courses are required for all Psychology majors. Finally, as mentioned above, critical thinking skills are required and assessed by the instructor as part of the PSY 493R (Senior Thesis Capstone) course. 3

4 Additional Student Outcomes Assessments The Department of Psychology at Montana State University is currently assessing student outcomes by means of the first three methods below and is considering the economic feasibility of also using the fourth method: 1. Survey of graduates. Beginning in Fall 2005, a Senior Survey (written questionnaire) has been given to all Psychology majors during the required PSY 493R (Senior Thesis Capstone) course (see pages 5 6). This survey provides quantitative and qualitative data that can be used to assess our undergraduate program across semesters and years. Beginning in AY , all second-year M.S. students have also been surveyed, using a similar written questionnaire format (see pages 7 8). 2. Feedback from outside constituencies. Many of our students work directly with community organizations as a part of their field practicum experience (PSY 491). Field supervisors of these students are asked to provide a written assessment of the quality of student work within these organizations. These letters provide interesting qualitative data, and they are retained by the Department Chair, who organizes this course. 3. Feedback from graduates (alumni). Every year, Psychology faculty members receive unsolicited letters (mostly these days via ) from our previous B.S. and M.S. students. These letters provide qualitative data that can be extremely useful. They come in a selective way namely, from former graduates (alumni) who spontaneously send them to us. Nevertheless, the Psychology Department is saving them in a central location. We are also discussing whether or not more systematic surveying of graduates of our programs would be feasible (e.g., in terms of locating them and in terms of likely low return-rate issues). 4. Standardized testing of graduating seniors. Psychology faculty may investigate the economic feasibility of administering a standardized national test, such as ETS s Major Field Test (MFT) in Psychology to all graduating (i.e., senior) Psychology majors. (The MFT consists of about 140 multiple-choice items that cover most of the major subfields of psychology, along with subscale scores and comparative national data.) Although such testing would provide useful evidence on the effectiveness of our undergraduate program, there are two costs associated with it: the time to administer it, and the money to administer it. It could probably be administered during PSY 493R without undue disruption of the course. However, it is unclear how the Psychology Department would be able to obtain approximately $2,500 to purchase a minimum of 100 tests, which would cover only two years of such testing. Unless the MSU administration is willing to fund this testing, the Department of Psychology does not have a sufficient base-budget allocation to fund it. 4

5 SENIOR SURVEY Please take a few minutes to respond to this survey. We sincerely appreciate your comments on your undergraduate education in the Psychology Department at MSU. You may provide your name, or you may remain anonymous. If you provide your name, your responses will be kept absolutely confidential. We may provide administrators at MSU and accreditation agencies with summary statistics and quotations, but no names will be attached to them. Thank you very much. --Rick Block, Chair, Psychology Department Expected Graduation Date Name (optional): 1. Overall, how satisfied are you with the undergraduate program in Psychology at MSU? satisfied nor satisfied 2. How satisfied are you with the instruction in your regular courses in Psychology at MSU? satisfied nor satisfied 3. How satisfied are you with the special research and field practicum opportunities in Psychology at MSU? satisfied nor satisfied 4. How satisfied are you with the academic and career advising in Psychology at MSU? satisfied nor satisfied 5. Please indicate your career plans during the next few years. Please check one or more of these descriptions about your plans: accept a job offer that already exists search for a job somewhat related to psychology search for a job completely unrelated to psychology apply to a graduate program in psychology or related fields (e.g., counseling) apply to a professional school (e.g., law, medicine, business) other; please describe CONTINUED ON REVERSE 5

6 6. Please describe the major strengths, or positive aspects, of the undergraduate program in Psychology at MSU. 7. Please describe the major weaknesses, or negative aspects, of the undergraduate program in Psychology at MSU. 8. Do you have any other comments or suggestions? THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR VALUABLE INPUT. 6

7 GRADUATE STUDENT SURVEY Please take a few minutes to respond to this survey. We sincerely appreciate your comments on your graduate education in the Psychology Department at MSU. You may provide your name, or you may remain anonymous. If you provide your name, your responses will be kept absolutely confidential. We may provide administrators at MSU and accreditation agencies with summary statistics and quotations, but no names will be attached to them. Thank you very much. --Rick Block, Chair, Psychology Department Expected Graduation Date Name (optional): 1. Overall, how satisfied are you with the graduate program in Psychology at MSU? satisfied nor satisfied 2. How satisfied are you with the instruction in your graduate courses in our M.S. program? satisfied nor satisfied 3. How satisfied are you with the research/thesis experiences you have received in our M.S. program? satisfied nor satisfied 4. How satisfied are you with your career advising and placement in future settings (e.g., Ph.D. programs)? satisfied nor satisfied 5. Please indicate your career plans during the next few years. Please check one or more of these descriptions about your plans: I have been accepted to a Ph.D. program, and I will be enrolled in that program next year. I have not been accepted to a Ph.D. program, but I will apply again next year. I have accept a job offer, and I do not plan to obtain a Ph.D. degree. I have accept a job offer, although I may try to obtain a Ph.D. degree at a later time. Other; please describe 7 CONTINUED ON REVERSE

8 6. Please describe the major strengths, or positive aspects, of the graduate program in Psychology at MSU. 7. Please describe the major weaknesses, or negative aspects, of the graduate program in Psychology at MSU. 8. Do you have any other comments or suggestions? THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR VALUABLE INPUT. 8

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