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Chemistry M.S. Assessment Plan 

student poster presentation


The following tools are used to assess M.S. students' mastery of the learning objectives. The M.S. degree is awarded for successful completion of specific courses and of a research problem less complex than a doctoral problem.   

A. Annual Reviews with Supervisory Committee
B. Oral and Poster Presentations
C. Publications
D. Thesis and Defense



Annual Reviews with Supervisory Committee

Contribution to Learning Objective

Ranking

L1: Fundamental Skills

Medium

L2: Research Skills

High

L3: Communication Skills

High

Annual meetings with the supervisory committee result in significant progress towards Learning Objectives 2 and 3 by providing an opportunity for students to present a research summary and discuss their research progress with their committee.  These meetings also provide a venue for feedback about the progress being made on the research project, to clarify expectations for the successful completion of the degree, and for constructive criticism to be given when necessary. Committees particularly look for progress in the areas below, and comment on these in the letter following each annual meeting that is placed in the student’s file.

For M.S. Students, three faculty members from the department are required, with two representing the student’s area of specialization.

Committee Meeting Progress Report Checklist

First Meeting:

  • Is satisfactory progress being made in completing coursework on the Program of Study, and are grades satisfactory?
  • Is satisfactory progress being made in the research project; is progress toward research proficiency evident, and does the student show signs of taking intellectual ownership?
  • Does the student meet the advisor’s expectations with regard to time and effort, lab safety, notebook standards, and citizenship?
  • Is there evidence that the student reads and understands the current literature in their research area?


Subsequent Meetings:

  • Has clear research progress been made since the previous year’s meeting?
  • Has the student produced work that has been presented at conferences, or in publications? If not, is there clear progress toward this goal; what are the committee’s expectations in this area, and are they being met?


Particularly Important for Fourth Year and Beyond:

  • Does the level of measurable research progress, in terms of meeting abstracts or manuscripts, compare favorably with previous successful M.S. students, in a comparable research area, at this point in their studies?
  • Has the candidate taken intellectual ownership of their project? Can he/she make choices about the next steps in research, or just doing what they are told?
  • If any these areas are not clearly satisfactorily, is there justification for continuation in the M.S. program?


Any areas in need of improvement should be clearly identified in the letter, and the student given constructive criticisms during the meeting. Expectations to be met before the following year’s meeting should be specified in the letter.

Format of the Meeting: An essential part of the committee meeting is a discussion of the student's research progress. Students should come to the meeting with their notebooks, and any other materials needed to enable them to answer questions and discuss their results. The progress report must be given to committee members no later than 10 days before the meeting, and may include any publications since the previous meeting. An oral PowerPoint presentation may be a part of the annual meeting, but is not mandated. Students should consult with their committee in advance of the meeting to ascertain whether or not such a presentation will be expected, and its length.

Oral and Poster Presentations

 

Contribution to Learning Objective

Ranking

L1: Fundamental Skills

Medium

L2: Research Skills

High

L3: Communication Skills

High

A key component in the achievement of Learning Objective 3 (Development of communication & professional preparation) involves the development of competence in presenting scientific results and conclusions. At the same time, the development of an effective research presentation involves mastery of foundational skills (Learning Objective 1) and research skills (Learning Objective 2).

Assessment of this learning objective is achieved in the following ways:

  1. Seminar Course. Seminars scheduled under the Organic/Inorganic and Physical/Analytical programs are an important aspect of graduate training. Students will register for one of these seminar programs in the Fall and Spring during the first two years of the program. Annual participation in the Departmental section (CHEM 7800-001) of the seminar program is mandatory regardless of the student’s registration status, and students must also register for the appropriate section (Physical/Analytical, or Organic/Inorganic) based on area of research. The grading for seminar is on a Pass/Fail basis. Each student will present at least one seminar each year regardless of seminar registration status. Students’ attendance and a satisfactory annual seminar presentation are a requirement for continuation in the program, and will be evaluated at the annual meeting with the supervisory committee. The student will present a departmental seminar reporting the results of their research as part of the defense of the M.S. thesis.
  2. Presentations at Conferences and Professional Meetings. An important component of a M.S. student’s development is their presentation of research results at conferences and professional meetings. These experiences require students to prepare highly professional oral talks and posters for presentation to peers in their research field.

Publications

 

Contribution to Learning Objective

Ranking

L1: Fundamental Skills

Medium

L2: Research Skills

High

L3: Communication Skills

High

Another critical aspect of Learning Objective 3 (Development of communication & professional preparation) is the publication of research work in peer-reviewed journals. This process takes place under the close mentorship of the student’s supervisor and is a critical component of the scientific process.  It also requires mastery of foundational skills (Learning Objective 1) and knowledge in a chosen area (Learning Objective 2).  While expectations regarding number of publications varies between research groups, all M.S. students are expected to publish results in peer-reviewed journals during their program and publication is an important part of the assessment done by the student’s committee.

Thesis and Defense

 

Contribution to Learning Objective

Ranking

L1: Fundamental Skills

Medium

L2: Research Skills

High

L3: Communication Skills

High

The thesis and defense provide an opportunity for final assessment of student’s success in achieving all three learning objectives.

After completing research, students must report their results in a M.S. thesis. A copy must be given to each member of the supervisory committee at least four weeks before the final examination is held. The student and the supervisory committee members must complete and sign an Appointment for Examination form for submission to the School of Graduate Studies at least ten days prior to the examination. The defense must be coordinated with the departmental seminar coordinator and announced to the faculty at least one week in advance.

The final defense of the dissertation or thesis includes a formal departmental seminar followed immediately by a closed meeting of the candidate with the supervisory committee. Although a detailed summary of the research is expected, the seminar should demonstrate the ability to present material that is understandable to chemists outside of a special research discipline. This seminar is an important degree requirement, and it must be presented to the satisfaction of the faculty at large. Students who pass the oral examination must make any changes or revisions specified by the supervisory committee and obtain their signatures before submission the School of Graduate Studies.