Several of our assessment methods include both qualitative and quantitative components. We first consider the various assessment instruments and then briefly list some recent program improvements based on the results of the assessments. For each assessment mechanism, we briefly describe its quantitative as well as its qualitative components.
The last part of the survey seeks qualitative responses. It asks the respondent to provide free-form answers to the questions, "What single aspect of the CSE program did you find most helpful? Explain briefly", and "What single change in the CSE program would you most like to see? Explain briefly".
Results of the survey over the last several years are available. Note that, in that page, the results for 2004-'05 are specified first followed by the results for the earlier years. Note also that responses to the free-form questions are in a separate page to which there is a link in that page.
In addition, each year the survey includes a targeted component whose topic varies among such items as the importance of lifelong learning to that of business skills among our graduates; this portion seeks both qualitative and quantitative feedback from the respondent on the particular topic targeted in that year's survey.
Results of the survey over the last several years are available. (The results of the targeted components from various years are not available on-line.)
Results of the survey over the last several years are available.
If the average actual level of achievement for a given outcome, as estimated by the various faculty involved in teaching the course, in recent offerings of the course differs from the expected level by more than one level, the faculty, as a group, have to analyze the causes and possible solutions. The causes can vary over such things as inadequate background of students taking the course (which, in turn, suggests a potential problem in the prerequisite course(s)), outdated learning outcome in the course syllabus (perhaps the field has evolved and the particular outcome is no longer as relevant as it was when the syllabus was created), particular faculty favoring one topic at the expense of another with the result that the learning outcome associated with the latter suffers, etc. The solutions would similarly vary from case to case. But in all these cases, the faculty group has to document, in the CGR, the actual level of achievement of each learning outcome of each course in the group, analyze any differences with the expected levels, and propose suitable changes to address any problems. The course syllabi also specify the level of contribution (on an appropriate scale) that the course makes to achieving various program outcomes as well as EC Criterion 3 outcomes. And the faculty preparing the CGR analyze the stated levels of contribution and the actual levels, and offer changes to reduce or eliminate differences.
In addition, the CGR includes detailed narrative about such things as the direction the field is moving in, any relevant feedback about the course material that the faculty may have received from such sources as colleagues at other universities, feedback from industry experts that they may happen to have interacted with, etc. In addition, the discussion at the Curriculum Committee when the draft CGR is presented, often results in further refinements of the faculty group's proposals.
It is this combination of assessment based on actual student performance in specific components of the courses, narrative based on faculty knowledge, expertise, and active engagement in the particular community, and the additional feedback from faculty in related areas, that makes the mechanism a valuable tool for both assessment and feedback.
There is a natural mix of qualitative and quantitative aspects in this approach. On the one hand, the performance of students in specific graded activities dealing with specific portions of the course is a key quantitative component; on the other hand, faculty judgment about where the field is headed, etc. iincludes a natural qualitative aspect to it. The discussions within the faculty group, followed by the broader discussions in the Curriculum Committee takes account of all of this in arriving at suitable improvements.