Utah State
                  University   INDEX   DIRECTORIES   CALENDAR   LIBRARIES   QUAD   WEBMAIL   WEBCAM   GIVING TO UTAH STATE    
    

home > Assessment > Assessment Plan
Department of Physics

  Assessment Plan

 

The Physics program assesses its Learning Objectives using a portfolio of strategies, including:

  • Coursework: Of course, all courses contribute to the learning objectives and involve various forms of assessment.  But the Physics Department has focused programmatic-level attention on five particular courses which span several semesters of work.  These courses are PHYS 3870 (Intermediate Lab), PHYS (3880) (Advanced Lab), PHYS 3600 (Electromagnetism I), PHYS 4600 (Electromagnetism II), and PHYS 4900 (Research in Physics). The learning objectives these courses address are as follows.

3870
3880
3600
4600
4900
Physics Knowledge
x
x
x
x
x
Problem Solving and
Mathematical Analysis


x
x
x
Laboratory Skills
x
x


x
Computer Skills
x
x


x
Research

x


x
Communication
x
x
x
x
x

Faculty members assess the students progress on the physics Learning Objectives using a standardized rubric. The faculty evaluations of learning objectives are submitted to the departmental assessment committee for analysis and archive. 

  • Exit interviews. This tool assesses all Learning Objectives. The department head interviews each graduating senior with the goal of gleaning what worked and what didn't work in the physics program, principally from the student's perspective, of course.  The interview is based upon a questionnaire that the student reviews/completes prior to the interview. The questionnaire inquires about the goals the student has for his/her physics degree, the various strengths and weaknesses of the physics program relative to supporting these goals, and the student's self-assessment of the degree to which the Physics Department Learning objectives have been implemented.  A copy of the interview questionnaire can be found here The students provide feedback regarding the USU Physics program in the areas of: curriculum, course quality, laboratory quality, infrastructure, advising and overall satisfaction.  Students are explicitly asked to comment on their perceptions of attainment of all learning objectives.  The College of Science also  conducts its own exit interview.  Three of the questions on the College of Science are directly relevant to our Learning Objectives.  The responses from both interviews which concern learning objectives are scored and the data used to detect trends.
  • Pre and Post tests. This tool assesses the progress on the following Learning Objectives: Physics Knowledge. In the Physics 2210/2220 introductory series we administer quizzes at the start and at the end of the courses to assess value-added. This course serves our majors as well as scientists from other majors and engineering students.  The classes are sufficiently large for meaningful statistics. 

  • Informal feedback from students, teachers, and other stakeholders.  This assessment tool addresses progress toward all Learning Objectives.  A variety of formal and informal interactions with students and faculty feature in this most traditional of assessment schemes. These interactions include faculty meetings, faculty retreats, interaction with our physics student advisor, regular faculty-graduate student meetings, etc. A good number of improvements in our program have arisen through this mechanism.
  • External Reviews. Periodically the department's programs are reviewed by physicists from other institutions.  The most recent review took place in 2017.