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Biochemistry M.S. Data-Based Decisions

RECRUITMENT

Concern: In 2019, the Graduate Recruiting Committee collected, analyzed, and reported data concerning recruitment efforts, outcomes, and expenditures from the past several years. The analysis clearly showed that our application numbers have been in decline for several years, with only 32 total applications (Chemistry and Biochemistry) last year to fill the eight graduate student positions we ultimately brought in. (It is important to know that the eight we brought in was 3-4 students short of our goal, but we simply did not have qualified applicants available to fill all of the positions).

Proposed Solution: In 2019, the Graduate Recruiting Committee devised a list of proposed approaches to increase the number of graduate student application. These are outlined below. The Department will also continue its Summer Undergraduate Research Program and annual faculty recruiting visits to local Universities.

  • Hire an undergraduate student from the Department of Journalism and Communication to assist us in developing/enhancing our social media presence so that we are more visible to applicants and to provide a platform for sharing information about our Department and graduate opportunities. Also, work with the undergraduate student to develop a recruiting flyer that will be shared via social media and postal service (mailings will target faculty contacts at local “feeder schools”.
  • Waive the graduate application fee ($55) for all of our applicants. Our Department worked with the Graduate School to generate and distribute “promo-codes” that could be entered by the applicant to waive the need to include payment information. The fee for that application could then be charged directly to the Department.

Evaluation: As of Spring 2020, we do not have enough data about student application numbers to assess the effects of these changes. Data will be collected and assessed over the next few years.


FOUNDATIONAL KNOWLEDGE

Concern: Some of Biochemistry students have a weak foundational knowledge when entering the  program. 

Proposed Solution: In Fall 2019, a new requirement was implemented that entering Biochemistry students must take CHEM 5700 (Principles of Biochemistry) and CHEM 5710 (General Biochemistry II) exams along with the students (primarily undergraduate majors) who are enrolled in the courses. Students must pass 7 out of 8 exams with an 80% or higher; they have two years to do so or they will not be allowed to continue in the PhD program.

Evaluation: As of Spring 2020, eight graduate students (PhD and Masters) have taken the Chem 5700 exams last semester and the anonymous results are shown below. (Exam 3 had a 5-point bonus question, explaining why several students scored >100%).

 

Exam1 (%)

Exam2 (%)

Exam3 (%)

Final Exam (%)

Student "A"

92

96

97

79.2

Student "B"

82

91

97

69.6

Student "C"

77

82

92

88.8

Student "D"

74

86

102

84

Student "E"

83

85

78

64.8

Student "F"

78

45

72

68

Student "G"

87

85

 

82.4

Student "H"

97

91

101

84

Class average

71+/-14

73+/-17

76+/-17

67+/-16



PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT SKILLS ASSESSMENT

Problem: Some faculty noted that there was not adequate discussion about student progress on professional development skills during the Annual Supervisory Committee meetings.

Proposed Solution: In Spring 2019, a Graduate Student Skills Matrix was developed by the Biochemistry Division. Students were asked to perform self-assessment for each skill listed in the matrix before the Annual Meeting. Student self-assessment and Committee assessment was then discussed during the meeting.

Evaluation: During the one semester in which the Skills Matrix has been used so far, faculty were pleased with its outcome, indicating that it is promoting valuable discussion and an opportunity to provide feedback during the meetings. The usefulness of the Skills Matrix will continue to be evaluated during the next few years.