Skip to main content

Assessment Plan 

Chemistry Assessment Plan

The undergraduate chemistry degree program is assessed by evaluating overall student performance using the following criteria:

Learning Objective 1 (Mastery of factual knowledge comprehensively across the five principal areas of chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical, biochemistry and analytical), and be able analyze and solve problems, understand relationships, and interpret scientific facts and data.)

This learning objective is assessed using several criteria. The main assessment tool is a sixty-question exit exam given as part of the senior chemistry capstone course (CHEM 4990). The examination is modeled after examinations developed and distributed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Although similar in question style and difficulty, this department-developed examination covers the five fundamental areas of chemistry (General, Inorganic, Organic, Physical and Biochemistry). In contrast, the various ACS examinations have been developed to test specific course related content and nationally normalized scores are available for each exam. Some of these more in-depth ACS examinations are also used as final examinations in specific chemistry courses. The results from all of these standard examinations are utilized to make data-based decisions regarding course syllabi and curricula.


Learning Objective 2  (Proficiency in basic laboratory techniques and laboratory safety; experience with modern lab instrumentation and experience working as a member of a team.)

As Chemistry is an experimental science, students are also evaluated via upper level laboratories that require practical application of material learned in the associated lecture courses. These low enrollment laboratory courses under the direct supervision and evaluation by faculty members ensures students have developed proficiency in basic laboratory techniques and laboratory safety. In these laboratories, students are exposed to a variety of modern laboratory instrumentation, are required to be proficient at writing laboratory reports on their experiments and gain experience working as a member of a team. These skills are critical for student success in their future careers in the chemical field.


Learning Objective 3 (Communicate in written and oral formats scientific information to chemists and non-­chemists.)

Student proficiency in these skills is developed in upper division courses and laboratories (CHEM 3080, 3090, and 3520). Cumulative communication skills are improved and assessed in the chemistry senior capstone course (CHEM 4990) where students are instructed on researching a scientific topic using a variety of library and Internet database tools. Students are instructed on how to present research results to a general scientific audience. Finally, with several rounds of feedback and continuous improvement, students are required to present both an oral and a poster format presentation on a chosen research topic in order to successfully complete the capstone course.

Biochemistry Assessment Plan

The undergraduate Biochemistry degree program is assessed by evaluating overall student performance using the following criteria:

Learning Objective 1 (General knowledge in chemistry and biochemistry.)

Assessed via the Biochemistry capstone course (CHEM 4890) where the sixty-question ACS standard Biochemistry examination is currently employed as an exit exam. In future years, a newly developed American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) examination will be utilized for this purpose. The ASBMB exam is expected to better evaluate a broader range of topics relevant to the biochemistry curriculum.


Learning Objective 2 (Read, present, and analyze scientific literature and data.)

Assessed via the Biochemistry capstone course (CHEM 4890) and in the upper division Biochemistry courses and lab (CHEM 5700, 5710 and 5720).


Learning Objective 3 (Design experiments, choose and apply appropriate techniques to achieve a research goal, and demonstrate quantitative skills.)

Assessed via the CHEM 5720 Biochemistry laboratory course where students individually undertake a two-month research project that encompasses a wide variety of biochemical techniques.

Chemistry Teaching Major Assessment Plan

Learning Objective 1

Learning objective 1 will be assessed using several criteria. The main assessment tool is a department developed sixty-question exit exam that is given as part of the department's senior chemistry capstone course (CHEM 4990). The examination is modeled after examinations developed and distributed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Although similar in question style and difficulty, our department-developed examination covers six fundamental areas of Chemistry (General, Inorganic, Organic, Physical and Biochemistry). In contrast, the various ACS examinations have been developed to test specific course related content and nationally normalized scores are available for each exam. Some of these more in-depth ACS examinations are also used as final examinations in specific chemistry courses. The results from all of these standard examinations are utilized to make data based decisions regarding our degree curricula.


Learning Objective 2

As Chemistry is an experimental science, students are also evaluated via upper level laboratories that require students to demonstrate practical application of the material learned in the associated classroom based courses. These low enrollment laboratory courses run under the direct supervision of a faculty member ensures students have developed proficiency in basic laboratory techniques and laboratory safety prior to graduation. In these laboratories, students are also exposed to a variety of modern laboratory instrumentation, are required to be proficient at writing laboratory reports on their experiments and gain experience working as a member of a team. These skills are critical for student success in their future careers in the chemical field.


Learning Objective 3

To be successful scientists, it is important for students earning a chemistry degree to be able to communicate scientific information to other chemists and also non-chemists. Both written and oral communication skills are critical in the chemistry field. Student proficiency in these skills is developed in various courses and laboratories during a students degree program. Overall communication skills are also improved and assessed via the Chemistry degree capstone course (CHEM 4990) where students are instructed on researching of a scientific topic using a variety of library and Internet database tools. Students are also instructed on how to present research results to a general scientific audience. Finally, students are required to present both an oral and a poster format presentation on a chosen research topic in order to successfully complete the capstone course. Chemistry Teaching


Learning Objective 4

All teaching majors at USU receive their coursework, clinical experiences and student teaching experience in the Secondary Teaching Education Program (STEP) of the College of Education and Human Services. Their assessment procedure is described below. In addition, all students must demonstrate mastery of content knowledge by passing the ETS PRAXIS exam prior to their student teaching experience.

The evaluation of the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) is based on measures of student performance. The performances that are measured on the STEP are derived from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) standards:
  • Content Pedagogy
  • Student Development
  • Diverse Learners
  • Multiple Instructional Strategies
  • Motivation and Management
  • Communication and Technology
  • Planning
  • Assessment
  • Reflective Practice: Professional Growth
  • School and Community Involvement
Three unique performance assessments were developed from the conceptual framework of the ten INTASC standards. These assignments allow on-going evaluation of student performance and progress as well as data for the evaluation of the program. The three assessments are described below.

Portfolio-
Students who enter the secondary education program begin developing a professional portfolio that is an integral tool in the assessment of their professional performance as a teacher. Students select materials from the professional education courses, courses in their major/minor, clinical experiences, as well as other experiences they have had working with children to demonstrate successful performance of knowledge skills, and attitudes reflected in the 10 standards of teaching in the conceptual framework. In every secondary education course, the relationship between course work, the conceptual framework, and the portfolio is explained. Students are taught how to analyze the materials they select and how to write a rationale explaining why the artifact fits the standard(s) indicated by the student. Students must complete the portfolio before entering student teaching. The reviews of the portfolios allow faculty to identify areas of the program that are successfully preparing students to perform as teachers.

Student Teaching Performance Report (STPR)-
The Student Teaching Performance Report (STPR) uses the same INTASC standards as the professional portfolio. The form identities tasks for each principle that delineates the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that constitutes successful performance. The evaluation form is completed jointly by the student teacher, cooperating teacher, and university supervisor and is used as a summative evaluation of that student’s performance. Level of performance is indicated as a continuum from successful completion of the task to unsuccessful performance.

Performance Surveys of First Year Teachers-
While the previous three sources of data are compiled as students complete the secondary education program, the performance surveys of first year teachers are designed to gather data about the students’ performance after the first year of teaching. Surveys are sent to the graduates of the secondary education program and their principals at the end of their first year of teaching. The surveys provide data as to how well beginning teachers perform in relation to the ten standards that make up the secondary education program. Information obtained from the surveys provides information for the evaluation of the secondary education program.

Physical Science Composite Teaching Assessment Plan

Learning Objective 1

Learning objective 1 will be assessed using several criteria. The main assessment tool is a department developed sixty-question exit exam that is given as part of the department's senior chemistry capstone course (CHEM 4990). The examination is modeled after examinations developed and distributed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). Although similar in question style and difficulty, our department-developed examination covers six fundamental areas of Chemistry (General, Inorganic, Organic, Physical and Biochemistry). In contrast, the various ACS examinations have been developed to test specific course related content and nationally normalized scores are available for each exam. Some of these more in-depth ACS examinations are also used as final examinations in specific chemistry courses. The results from all of these standard examinations are utilized to make data based decisions regarding our degree curricula.


Learning Objective 2

As Chemistry is an experimental science, students are also evaluated via upper level laboratories that require students to demonstrate practical application of the material learned in the associated classroom based courses. These low enrollment laboratory courses run under the direct supervision of a faculty member ensures students have developed proficiency in basic laboratory techniques and laboratory safety prior to graduation. In these laboratories, students are also exposed to a variety of modern laboratory instrumentation, are required to be proficient at writing laboratory reports on their experiments and gain experience working as a member of a team. These skills are critical for student success in their future careers in the chemical field.


Learning Objective 3

To be successful scientists, it is important for students earning a chemistry degree to be able to communicate scientific information to other chemists and also non-chemists. Both written and oral communication skills are critical in the chemistry field. Student proficiency in these skills is developed in various courses and laboratories during a students degree program. Overall communication skills are also improved and assessed via the Chemistry degree capstone course (CHEM 4990) where students are instructed on researching of a scientific topic using a variety of library and Internet database tools. Students are also instructed on how to present research results to a general scientific audience. Finally, students are required to present both an oral and a poster format presentation on a chosen research topic in order to successfully complete the capstone course. Chemistry Teaching


Learning Objective 4

All teaching majors at USU receive their teacher preperation coursework, clinical experiences and student teaching experience in the Secondary Teaching Education Program (STEP) of the College of Education and Human Services. Their assessment procedure is described below. In addition, all students must demonstrate mastery of content knowledge by passing the ETS PRAXIS exam prior to their student teaching experience.

The evaluation of the Secondary Teacher Education Program (STEP) is based on measures of student performance. The performances that are measured on the STEP are derived from the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) standards:

  • Content Pedagogy
  • Student Development
  • Diverse Learners
  • Multiple Instructional Strategies
  • Motivation and Management
  • Communication and Technology
  • Planning
  • Assessment
  • Reflective Practice: Professional Growth
  • School and Community Involvement

Three unique performance assessments were developed from the conceptual framework of the ten INTASC standards. These assignments allow on-going evaluation of student performance and progress as well as data for the evaluation of the program. The three assessments are described below.

 

Portfolio:

Students who enter the secondary education program begin developing a professional portfolio that is an integral tool in the assessment of their professional performance as a teacher. Students select materials from the professional education courses, courses in their major/minor, clinical experiences, as well as other experiences they have had working with children to demonstrate successful performance of knowledge skills, and attitudes reflected in the 10 standards of teaching in the conceptual framework. In every secondary education course, the relationship between course work, the conceptual framework, and the portfolio is explained. Students are taught how to analyze the materials they select and how to write a rationale explaining why the artifact fits the standard(s) indicated by the student. Students must complete the portfolio before entering student teaching. The reviews of the portfolios allow faculty to identify areas of the program that are successfully preparing students to perform as teachers.

Student Teaching Performance Report (STPR)

The Student Teaching Performance Report (STPR) uses the same INTASC standards as the professional portfolio. The form identities tasks for each principle that delineates the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that constitutes successful performance. The evaluation form is completed jointly by the student teacher, cooperating teacher, and university supervisor and is used as a summative evaluation of that student’s performance. Level of performance is indicated as a continuum from successful completion of the task to unsuccessful performance.

Performance Surveys of First Year Teachers

While the previous three sources of data are compiled as students complete the secondary education program, the performance surveys of first year teachers are designed to gather data about the students’ performance after the first year of teaching. Surveys are sent to the graduates of the secondary education program and their principals at the end of their first year of teaching. The surveys provide data as to how well beginning teachers perform in relation to the ten standards that make up the secondary education program. Information obtained from the surveys provides information for the evaluation of the secondary education program.

PRAXIS Content Knowledge Exams

Prior to student teaching, all teaching majors must meet a State of Utah mandated passing score in the ETS PRAXIS exam in their content area. For Physical Science Composite Teaching majors that exam includes two physical sciences exams: a Chemistry, Physics and General Science exam and a Physical Science - Content Knowledge exam.