Park University’s Information and Computer Science (ICS) degree program is committed to the ongoing assessment and enhancement of its curriculum to promote student learning. This program assessment plan is used to measure student competence in defined areas as well as provide an assessment of reaching course goals and overall program effectiveness.
Park's ICS degree program is offered in all modes of delivery – Parkville daytime, campus centers, Kansas City accelerated, and online. The ICS degree has four specialty areas:
1) computer science
2) software engineering
3) networking and security
4) data management.
|The ICS degree has 4 emphases
CS = computer science
SE = software engineering
NT = networking and security
DM = data management
Prepare students for a broad range of computer opportunities in industry as well as in graduate studies.
The ICS degree program will use an advisory board as the primary instrument for assessing the academic goals portion of the department’s assessment plan. The ICS degree program will use a comprehensive exam as the primary instrument for assessing the program competencies portion of the department’s assessment plan.
A departmental advisory board was formed August 2009. The board meets with ICS full-time faculty at Park’s Parkville campus once a year. Board members are asked to provide input in the following areas:
What courses are particularly important?
What technologies are particularly important?
What concepts are particularly important?
What areas do they see as growth areas?
What are their opinions about our current curricula?
Here are the ICS advisory board members and their affiliations:
UMB Bank, senior application programmer analyst
Cerner Corporation, technical project manager
Keyhole Software, senior software developer
Cerner Corporation, senior web developer
Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation, information technology specialist
A. Zahner Co., IT administration
Strenuus, software developer
Liberty High School, computer programming teacher
National Center for Competency Testing, director of IT
Oracle Corporation, senior systems engineer
The ICS degree program full-time faculty maintain a comprehensive exam in order to assess the program competencies portion of the department’s assessment plan. The comprehensive exam tests mastery of concepts, principles, and knowledge expected of students at the conclusion of the various specialty areas and majors within the ICS degree program. In addition to factual knowledge, the exam tests students' abilities to analyze and solve problems, understand relationships, and interpret material.
The comprehensive exam groups questions into specific areas so that each of the program competencies is tested separately:
All of Park's computer students will be graded on the core area questions. Additionally, ICS/CS and ICS/SE students will be graded on the computer science area questions. ICS/NT students will be graded on the networking area questions. ICS/DM students will be graded on the data management questions.
Quite a few ICS comprehensive exam implementation strategies have been used over the years. As a result of those efforts, the following processes are now in place:
Annually, the Computer Science, Information Systems, and Mathematics (CIM) department chair will compile the results from the comprehensive exam and analyze the results. These results will be grouped by program competency and also by mode of delivery. For the core questions, which cover material learned in the past, a score in the range 50%-79% will be designated as “meets expectations” and a score 80% or above will be designated as “exceeds expectation.” For the specialty area questions, which cover material learned during the course in which the comprehensive exam is embedded, a score in the range 55%-84% will be designated as “meets expectations” and a score 85% or above will be designated as “exceeds expectation.”
The results should give the department direct measurements of students’ mastery of specific skills and knowledge. If the department finds trends that indicate a deficiency in a particular mode of learning (e.g., online), then the department will consider possible remedies (e.g., try 16-week instead of 8-week formats). If the department finds trends that indicate a deficiency in a particular program competency area (e.g., problem solving), then the department will consider possible remedies (e.g., adding more problem-solving to courses).
Because there is no room in our curricula for a capstone course and because having different ICS specialty areas would make such a capstone course impractical, the ICS faculty have repeatedly voted against having a capstone course. If a capstone course were offered, then the comprehensive exam would presumably be embedded in it, and students would have time and great incentive to study the material covered in the comprehensive exam. On the other hand, with the ICS policy of having the ICS comprehensive exam embedded in standard senior-level courses, there is no time in the class to devote to studying the comprehensive exam material, and the incentive to do well is diminished due to the comprehensive exam counting for only 3%-5% of the course’s total grade. Thus, we expect that scores from our comprehensive exam will be fairly low. Relatively speaking, we expect that scores from the core area questions will tend to be lower than scores from the specialty area questions because core area questions cover content from lower-level courses, and students will tend to forget what they learned quite a while ago.
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