Successful Assessment Grant Proposal: Chemistry

Focus: Expanding the content areas being assessed and developing an exit interview for graduating students

Project information

Project title: Exit Survey for Chemistry Undergraduates

Contact person: Andrea Matti
Role/Position: Senior Lecturer
Department/Unit: Chemistry
Program name: BA/BS in Chemistry
Participating colleagues/collaborators: Regina Zibuck
Experience with assessment (for primary contact and each colleague/collaborator):
Andrea Matti Chair Assessment committee Chemistry Department
Regina Zibuck Member of Assessment Committee, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Reason for proposal: 

Students receiving a BS or BA in Chemistry and Biochemistry are currently assessed based on coursework, oral communication, written communication and laboratory problem solving. In order to assess learning outcomes in coursework students complete an ACS exam in Organic Chemistry. Oral and written communication is assessed in the capstone course CHM 5550. This requires an oral presentation as the final exam (worth 25% of grade) and is a writing intensive course all majors must take.

Last year, we graduated 53 students from our department; however, as noted above, the only exam the students take that allows us to compare results to nationwide levels is the ACS Organic Chemistry exam and for the Biochemistry majors, the ASBMB Biochemistry exam. These are exams are written by our accreditation body and encompass content and knowledge students have learned based on the standards placed by ACS and ASBMB.

Administering exams that only test the content of two areas of Chemistry (Organic and Biochem) leave a large void to be filled. The other half of our chemistry courses encompass General Chemistry and Analytical Chemistry and as it is now there is no exam administered in these areas. In addition, there is no ACS exam given to our students to test the knowledge they should have learned in their entire undergraduate coursework.

Factors that have led to our department seeking to improve these areas have been assessment. When our department was tasked with outlining our assessment we took to the ACS exams in Organic Chemistry to have a measured value that can be compared to programs nationwide. In continuing with this, we would like to have the same data for our other areas of study and our entire degree to be used to assessment our program.

Exit surveys are a tool used by departments nationwide to collect imperative data of graduating students. Currently, our department has no implemented exit survey.

Proposed actions:

This submitted proposal for assessment funding is two-fold. First, to assess the success of our coursework and learning outcomes, we would like to purchase ACS standardized exams in General Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and the Diagnostic Undergraduate Chemistry Knowledge (DUCK) exam. The DUCK exam is an all encompassing exam testing the students' knowledge on all topics of Chemistry and should be administered at the end of their degree. Results from these exams will allow us to assess our students understanding of the conceptual and practical topics ACS wants students to know from an institution receiving their accreditation.
In addition to assessment, purchase of the ACS exams will allow us to know how our students rank compared to a national average in the major areas of Chemistry. The data resulting from these exams will analyze student's responses to every question and how they rank. This will pinpoint key topics in Chemistry and will help us understand what content areas our students have mastered.

The second half of this proposal seeks to implement an exit survey for our graduates with both a BA and BS in Chemistry and Biochemistry starting Fall 2019. The exit survey will encompass all aspects of the student's time in our department including advising experience, teaching experience, research, service, safety, funding, etc. and will include two parts: a quantitative portion and a qualitative portion. This will provide us with information about where student's felt they received the best education and areas for improvement. It will also give information about the success of our students after graduation, i.e. the employment rate, salary and graduate program matriculation.

The exit survey will be implemented on our website and students will complete it in the last three weeks of their graduating semester. In order to accomplish this, the proposal seeks a work study student responsible for emailing/calling graduates to ensure they have completed the survey and analyzing this data. For this reason, we are seeking a work study student with a degree in mathematics. The student would be required to work the last four weeks of the semester for both the Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 semesters.

The ACS exams measure the student's success in the learning outcomes; however, they do not measure the success of the program according to the student. The proposed exit survey fills this void. The exit survey will help us as a department in several ways: 1. We will be able to collect data in a single document from all our graduating students. Currently, certain questions on this survey are done by our advising department and can be a tedious task if students have already graduated and do not respond to their Wayne State emails. 2. We will have data from a student's perspective on the strengths and weaknesses of our program 3. It will help us assess the success of our program based on the employment of our graduates 4. Taken over time, we will be able to assess the success of our program from semester to semester.

All the data collected from this survey will allow faculty and staff in our department to adjust the program to better suit the students needs. This will increase not only the student's success in our program but also may increase enrollment. This proposal seeks to take full advantage of the assessment opportunities this grant permits and given the opportunity looks forward to the data and knowledge the proposed assessment techniques will provide to improve our program.

Expert support needed:

For implementation of the exit survey we are asking for financial support of a work study student for implementing and analyzing the survey. We would also like assistance from an expert in assessment in reviewing the exit survey we will have prepared.
There will be no assistance warranted for obtaining and administering the ACS exams.

Funding request:

Cost Explanation
$1633.60 4 work study students at $10/hr. for 20 hrs./week for 8 weeks
$100.00 100 ACS General Chemistry exams ($1.00 each)
$200.00 $100 ACS Analytical exams ($2.00 each)
$200.00 100 ACS DUCK exams ($2.00 each)
$2133.60 Total request

Deliverables, timeline, responsible parties:

The exit survey for undergraduates in Chemistry and Biochemistry will be implemented in December 2018 and again in April 2019. Final data will be presented in May 2019. Andrea Matti will be responsible for hiring a work study student and overseeing the exit survey.
ACS exams will be administered in the Fall and Winter semesters for General Chemistry II/Analytical Chemistry students and for graduating students. Andrea Matti will be responsible for administering the exams and working with faculty who are teaching the course to administer the exams.

Assessment of project impact:

Per the exit survey, the department's assessment committee will meet at the end of each semester the survey is given to process the results. This will occur at the beginning of the Winter semester for the Fall '18 survey and the beginning of the Spring/Summer semester for the Winter '19 survey.
In addition, data collected from these surveys will be presented to faculty at faculty meeting and sent out to faculty via email. It is imperative to use the results of this survey as a tool to better our undergraduate programs and our assessment techniques.
Per the ACS exams, data will be given by ACS on the total scores of our exams and the score per question. We will be allowed to compare these values to national average. Steps taken to address these data will include meeting the faculty teaching these courses to work on the curriculum. These results will also be used as a tool in our assessment program's learning outcomes.

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