Computer Science Assessment
The computer and information studies (CIS) program is assessed on a regular and ongoing basis as a means of reinforcing academic successes and recognizing opportunities for improvement. The assessment program consists of the following activities:
End-of-Semester student course assessment
All sections of CIS major courses have an assessment questionnaire administered at the end of every semester. The focus of the instrument is on students' perception of course deliverables and support components, e.g. effectiveness of textbook, availability of software and/or hardware to support course activities, effectiveness of assigned activities (programming, writing, etc.) is reinforcing course concepts, etc. The results of the questionnaire are tabulated and distributed to all faculty teaching major-level courses.
Industry Advisory Board
The CIS Industry Advisory Board (IAB) is made up of professionals drawn from the local computing industry. The CIS-IAB meets bi-annually and provides CIS faculty with the opportunity to discuss possible curriculum enhancements with professionals currently practicing in the fields, and also to entertain suggestions regarding new technologies and/or practices that could be beneficial to students in the CIS program.
End-of-Semester course review
After final grades have been submitted every CIS major course section is formally reviewed in writing by its instructor. The review begins with a list of suggestions for possible improvements to the course made by the instructors of recently-offered sections or by CIS-IAB. The review then summarizes the pedagogical details of the course (text, type of assignments, any issues with computer labs or software, etc.) and provides a summary of student performance on major tests, final exam, and overall course grade. The results of the End-of-Semester student course assessment are incorporated into the review along with comments on any areas that are outside performance norms. The formal review concludes with suggestions for ways to improve future offerings of the course (altered pedagogy, different text, deletion of outdated material and incorporation of new topics, etc.).
A meeting is held in which each instructor presents her/his course review, takes questions, and if appropriate suggests that the course's place in the overall CIS curriculum be discussed and/or formally reviewed. All reviews are archived and available to instructors, new and returning alike, for review before a course is offered - suggestions made by previous instructors are to be given strong consideration for incorporation into the current offering if appropriate and viable.
CIS Curriculum Committee
The CIS curriculum committee (CC) meets electronically throughout the academic year to consider curriculum enhancements including course revisions and deletions, creation of new courses, and changes to CIS major requirements. Action items can be submitted for consideration at any time; ideas come from CIS-IAB, end-of-semester course reviews, and faculty research and consulting activities. The CIS-CC maintains standardized course documents (syllabus templates) for all courses that support the CIS major: all sections are expected to adhere to the goals, objectives, topics and assessment guidelines set forth in these documents, and faculty must submit a proposal to the CIS-CC and receive approval in order to change the topics or assessment guidelines.
The CIS major is accredited by ABET, Inc. (formerly the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). ABET's Computing Accreditation Commission defines the academic standards for accreditation in all branches of the computing field - the CIS major is accredited under the computer science guidelines. ABET requires an extensive Self-Study that documents:
- What is to be taught (via specific technical material specifications as documented in the standardized course documents and in instructors' syllabi);
- How student performance with respect to course objectives is assessed (via representative graded examples of all student work, end-of-semester student course assessments, faculty course reviews);
- How assessment results are evaluated (via the faculty course reviews);
- How assessment evaluation recommendations are acted on (via curriculum changes and tie-back ("close the loop") documentation present in faculty course reviews).
ABET's accreditation process is heavily assessment focused, requiring documentation of what is intended to be taught as well as documentation that assessment is performed, evidence collected and analyzed, and action taken to implement approved changes - "closing the loop" is a critical aspect of receiving accreditation.
ABET accredits programs on a six year cycle; a full curriculum review is conducted in the year prior to an accreditation visit, while an interim review is conducted about three years later.