Data-based Decisions

2022 - 2023

  • The department faculty and staff continued the annual discussion of the assessment plan and assessment data at the faculty retreat.
  • The faculty reviewed the data collected on attainment of learning objectives. The only issues requiring significant discussion this year involved data on computer skills for the BS, BA degrees, which has improved somewhat but could be better - particularly in the exit interviews and in the faculty's anecdotal experience.  The faculty consensus was to further revise the Physics 2500 course to better meet the current needs of the students.   

2020 - 2021

  • The department faculty and staff have this year initiated a recurring day-long discussion of the assessment plan and assessment data at the annual faculty retreat.
  • The faculty agreed to begin assessing the Communication learning objective in the Touchstone courses PHYS 3600, 4600.  The assessment is based upon the scientific exposition exhibited in the problems analyzed in the homework problems and on written exams.
  • The faculty reviewed the data collected on attainment of learning objectives. The only issues requiring discussion this year involved computer skills and laboratory skills.  In particular, the faculty discussed (i) the status of the revamped Physics 2500 and (ii) the revamped upper level laboratory courses (as explained below).  The consensus is that the program revisions are proceeding as expected, with no actions to be taken at this time, pending additional data next year. 

2018 - 2019

  • Based on exit interview data, the faculty have determined the department's support of the Computational Learning Objective needs improvement.  To this end, the department's course Physics 2500 - Computer Methods in Physics, will be completely redesigned to better serve the needs of our majors in the BS and BA programs.
  • The revamped upper-level laboratory classes are now in operation.

2016 - 2017

  • Based on previous data related to assessment of laboratory competencies, a 2 person team was assigned to revamp/revelop the upper-level laboratory courses. We will monitor assessment tools to see if there is any measurable impact.
  • Physics 2220 pre test, post test data show a completely satisfactory increase of 30% in the average score from the pre-test to the post-test.
  • Once again the College of Science Exit interviews give physics department advising the very highest ratings. This reaffirms the efficacy of our existing undergraduate advising structure.
  • Initial assessment data for the flipped presentation of PHYS 2120 suggests the experiment was successful.
  • A number of action items have resulted from the recent external review

2015 - 2016

  • Faculty evaluation of PHYS 3600 along with student feedback indicates that issues still exist with regard to expectations of 4600. Starting in Fall 2016 the same teacher will run both semesters of undergraduate Electrodynamics (PHYS 3600 and 4600). This should address the consistency in expectations of 4600 with the outcomes of 3600.
  • Capstone assessment data suggest downward trends in Communication, Laboratory Skills, and Computer Skills. This will be discussed at the 2016 Physics Department Retreat.
  • COS exit interviews indicate that classroom experiences are good but that laboratory experiences need improvement, particularly due to inadequate equipment in the upper division laboratories. Also there are issues with lab/lecture synchronization in the introductory laboratories. This jibes with capstone assessment data The department will undertake an overhaul of the intermediate and advanced laboratories for academic year 2016-2017. Laboratory/lecture synchronization will be discussed at the 2016 Physics Department Retreat.
  • PHYS 2210 pre and post tests. 17% increase in student score from pre-test to post-test. Details: pre test, post test. Since many students have had some of this material in high school, we expect a less marked improvement here compared to PHYS 2220.
  • PHYS 2220 pre and post tests. 27% increase in student score from pre-test to post-test. Details: pre test, post test. Consistent with 2014-2015.

2014 - 2015

  • After review by an ad hoc committee a revised, online only version of PHYS 2500 will be offered this academic year. Syllabus can be found here.
  • COS exit interviews and DH interviews suggest issues with laboratory experiences for undergraduates. Discuss issues and develop strategies to improve laboratory experiences for students (Physics Retreat, 2015).
  • Ad Hoc committee to assess outcomes of 3600 versus expectations of PHYS 4600. Consultation with Math department regarding prerequisites. Recommendations made for next implementation of 3600 (Fall 2015).
  • Analysis: Capstone Assessment: Mentor assessment of Learning Outcomes via the Physics 4900 capstone experiences is satisfactory. Not enough statistics yet to spot any trends, but all evaluations are at least "Satisfactory".
  • Analysis: Salient results of COS interview data: Students desire enhanced laboratory experiences; this will be discussed at 2015 Physics Retreat. Physics Department Advising is rated highly; we will endeavor to sustain this positive feature of the program.

2013 - 2014

  • Physics 2500 has been suspended pending (ongoing) revisions of the syllabus to address student feedback. We are taking this opportunity to create a purely online version of this course. Our curriculum committee is debating whether this course should be required by itself as it has in the past, or should be one option in a menu of possible introductory computational experiences including courses provided by other departments. In this way the students can take the course which best meets their needs.
  • Assessment of Learning Outcomes via student exit interviews is satisfactory, overall. Students continue to suggest updating Physics 2500. Attainment of "Laboratory skills" is lowest ranked outcome by students. This reflects the relative scarcity of advanced teaching laboratory facilities in the department, principally due to lack of resources.

2012 - 2013

  • Implementation of Physics Graduate Program 5 Year Plan. Principal goals include: (1) increase the quality of PhD students in our program; (2) improve the financial support for our students, (3) maximize efficiency in the delivery of our coursework, both from the students' point of view and from the point of view of utilization of faculty resources; (4) restructure our RA/TA funding model to account for the new tuition fellowship environment.
  • Implementation of Capstone Assessment of new Learning Outcomes.
  • Implementation of Exit Interview Assessment of new Learning Outcomes.

2011 - 2012

  • Split laboratories into separate 1 credit courses with TA's as instructors of record. Add emphasis on writing skills and data/error management skills.
  • Create assessment rubric to be used by all TAs.
  • Graduate core curriculum revision: This significant overhaul to the PhD course curriculum is a response to an external review of the department and an internal self-study & 5 year plan.