Graduate Program Assessment Plan – Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry,

Master and Doctoral Programs

MSU’s Mission

Montana State University, the state’s land grant institution, educates students, creates knowledge and art, and serves communities by integrating learning, discovery and engagement.

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Mission

The mission of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry is to provide students with educational experiences that empower and guide them to think critically and creatively for long term professional success in their chosen fields. 

Program Learning Outcomes

For coursework masters’ students:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of subject content knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of basic lab safety and the requirements to assist in establishing a safe lab environment.  
  4. Understand ethical issues and responsibilities especially in matters related to professionalism and (if applicable) in matters related the laboratory setting and in writing and publishing scientific papers.

For thesis masters’ students:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of subject content knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.
  3. Conduct independent research and analysis in their disciple and contribute substantive work in their field.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of basic lab safety and the requirements to assist in establishing a safe lab environment.  
  5. Understand ethical issues and responsibilities especially in matters related to professionalism, data collection, the laboratory setting and in writing and publishing theses, dissertations and scientific papers.

For doctoral students:

  1. Demonstrate mastery of subject content knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate effective oral and written communication skills.
  3. Conduct independent research and analysis in their disciple and contribute original and substantive work in their field.
  4. Demonstrate independent scientific thinking and advanced knowledge in their current discipline and in related areas of their discipline.
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of basic lab safety and the requirements to assist in establishing a safe lab environment.  
  6. Understand ethical issues and responsibilities especially in matters related to professionalism, data collection, the laboratory setting and in writing and publishing theses, dissertations and scientific papers.
  7. Professionalization into the field of study: publications, presentations, attended conferences, received funded fellowships, and professional association activities.

Student Performance: Data Sources

Masters’ Programs with non-Thesis

Data Source

 

Outcomes

 

 

1

2

3

4

 

Paper or exam from graduate foundation course1

 

X

 

 

 

 

Final committee meeting2

Exit interview   

 

X

X

 

 

 

Lab Safety Training 3

 

 

 

X

 

 

Ethics training in responsible conduct of research3

 

 

 

 

X

 

1Foundation classes are those required by the Department.  For BCH, course numbers are BCH 543 or 544; Organic students, CHMY 533 or 535, for Physical chemistry, CHMY 557 or 558.  The rubrics for outcomes 1 and 2 can be used at the end of the semester course or completed at the exit interview.

2 Program will track exit interviews.

3 The rubric for outcomes 3 and 4 is the completion of safety and ethics training.

Masters’ Programs with Thesis

Data Source

 

Outcomes

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

Paper or exam from one graduate foundation courseor

 

X

 

 

 

 

 

Comprehensive Exam (if applicable)2

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Masters’ Thesis 2

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Masters’ Thesis defense2

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Lab Safety Training 3

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Ethics training in responsible conduct of research3

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

1Foundation classes are those required by the department.  For biochemistry, course numbers are BCH 543 or 544. For organic, course numbers are CHMY 533 or 535, for physical chemistry, course numbers are CHMY 557 or 558. 

2 The Program will keep track of comprehensive/ thesis/dissertation defenses and calculate success rates. The rubrics for outcomes 1-3 are to be completed at the thesis defense.  These rubrics will not be used to assess or evaluate individual students and will not inform the decision regarding whether a student passes a defense or course.  The data will be aggregated for all students in the program over a two-year period in order to assess the success of the program in meeting its program learning outcomes (see sample rubric attached).

3 The rubrics for outcomes 4 and 5 are the completion of lab safety and ethics training.

Doctoral Programs

 

 

Outcomes

 

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

Comprehensive Exam1

 

X

X

 

 

 

 

 

Doctoral Dissertation1

 

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Dissertation Defense1

 

X

X

X

X

 

 

 

Lab Safety Training2

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Ethics training in responsible conduct of research2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Thesis Points 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

1 The Program will keep track of comprehensive/ thesis/dissertation defenses and calculate success rates. The rubrics for outcomes 1-4 are to be completed at the exam/defense.  These rubrics will not be used to assess or evaluate individual students and will not inform the decision regarding whether a student passes a defense or course.  The data will be aggregated for all students in the program over a two-year period in order to assess the success of the program in meeting its program learning outcomes (see sample rubric attached).

2The rubric for outcomes 4 and 5 is the completion of lab safety and ethics training.

3 Thesis points  of students will be collected prior to the defense. The Thesis Points document  will provide strong evidence for student's professional activities in their particular field of study (these may be published papers, research training, fellowships received and presentations at conferences).

Response Threshold

All programs:

  • At least 80% of students will be ranked at level 2 (acceptable) or 3 (exceptional) in subject content knowledge, written communication, and oral communication skills.
  • At least 90% of students will pass their defense on their first attempt.
  • 100% of students will successfully complete the ethics training and lab safety training.

Doctoral programs:

  • At least 95% of students will demonstrate more than one form of professionalization in their field.

Schedule of Assessment

  • Assessment reports for Masters programs will be submitted in September of even-numbered years. 
  • Assessment reports for Doctoral programs will be submitted in September of odd-numbered years.

Process for Assessing the Data

Data is collected from students as they complete the certificate or degree programs.  The graduate assessment coordinator will tabulate the scores from the rubrics and the data on defenses/program completion.  The will also prepare lists of students taking comprehensive/qualifying exams and the results (pass or fail) of such exams.  For doctoral programs, the coordinator will also identify, based on an analysis of C.V.s, the percent of students demonstrating acceptable professionalization into the field of study. The coordinator will write up a brief summary of the assessment results and this will be presented to the faculty members working with graduate students. The faculty will review the assessment results and make decisions about how to respond.

  • If an acceptable performance threshold (as outlined in the plan) has NOT been met, a faculty response is required.  It should include some strategy for addressing improving areas where the threshold has not been met.
    • Gather additional data next year to verify or refute the result.
    • Change something in the curriculum or program to try to improve performance.
    • Change the acceptable performance threshold (must provide reasoning behind such a strategy).
  • If faculty members identify new strategies for meeting the learning outcomes, they may respond to assessment results even if the acceptable performance threshold has been met.
  • It is also okay to decide that changes are not needed when students are demonstrating proficiency with each learning outcomes.  In this case just note that the faculty are satisfied, based on the assessment, that the program is achieving its goals.

A summary of the year’s assessment activities and faculty decisions is reported to the CLS Deans office and to the Provost’s office in your Department’s annual Graduate Program Assessment Activities Report.

The assessment report due on September 15 of every year must include the following:

1)     A list of students taking comprehensive exams/qualifying exams and defending theses/dissertations or completing program requirements in the past two years (data will not be presented online).

2)     The results of those examinations and defenses summarized into the numbers of passes and failures.

3)     If you have the data available you may report the ethics component, but if you have not collected this data and you are unable to get it together by September 15 then just write that into part your assessment and indicate that your program needs to begin tracking this data.

4)     A statement on the assessment of the program indicating if the program outcomes are being met, and identifying any program changes needed to better prepare students to meet the program learning outcomes.

 

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry Assessment Reports

AY16-17 Doctoral

AY15-16 Masters

AY14-15 Doctoral

AY13-14 Masters