College-wide Navigational Links | Go to Local Content
Main Content |

Intranet: Departments: Crop & Soil Sciences: Teaching

CSS Learning Assessment Plan

Department of Crop and Soil Sciences
Graduate Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Plan

Our department offers Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in Agronomy.  Areas of specialization include plant breeding and genetics, biotechnology, weed control, crop production and management, forage production and utilization, soil chemistry, soil physics, atmospheric physics, soil classification and genesis, soil erosion and conservation, soil fertility and plant nutrition, and soil microbiology.  Graduates of the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences should be competitive and well prepared for careers in academia, industry, and government fields.  This assessment plan is designed to evaluate the success of our graduate program and to provide guidance towards continuous improvement.

Section 1: Statement of Student Learning Objectives

  1. Graduates should have a fundamental understanding of the scientific method and be capable of critical thinking.
  2. Graduates should have in-depth knowledge in one of the following areas: plant breeding and genetics, biotechnology, weed control, crop production and management, forage production and utilization, soil chemistry, soil physics, atmospheric physics, soil classification and genesis, soil erosion and conservation, soil fertility and plant nutrition, or soil microbiology.
  3. Graduates should have strong communication and technical skills.
  4. Graduating MS students should be able to conduct original research and be prepared to enter a PhD program or a non-academic position.
  5. Graduating PhD students should be able to formulate and conduct original research and be able to teach courses in their area of specialty.
  6. Graduates should participate in professional societies and activities in Crop and Soil Sciences (e.g. membership and activities in state, regional, and national/international organizations) and win awards and recognition within the University, and at regional and national levels.

Section 2: Learning Assessment Procedures

The Department will use the following measures to obtain data with which to assess achievement of the student learning objectives:

  1. Completion of a Student Performance Evaluation form by each member of a student's Advisory Committee at the Oral Preliminary Exam and at Dissertation/Thesis defense meetings (Form I).
  2. Written record of exit interviews with the Department Head (Forms II and III)
  3. Annual report by the Graduate Coordinator to the Department faculty on number, GPA, and GRE scores of entering graduate students.
  4. Survey of supervisors/administrators of graduates one year after graduation (Form IV).
  5. Survey of graduate advisors in Ph.D. programs one year after graduation of M.S. students (Form V).
  6. Survey of graduate students one year after graduation (Form VI).
  7. USDA Cooperative States Research and Education Review.
  8. University Program Review.

Section 3: Use of Assessment Results for Improvement

Student Performance Evaluations (Form I) will be used to determine if students have mastered the core knowledge in their area of specialization, successfully conducted original research, and developed strong communication and technical skills.  The written record on exit interviews with the Department Head (Forms II and III) will guide the Department in improving graduate programs, teaching proficiency, and the friendly atmosphere that is so critical for a first-class graduate program.  The annual report by the Graduate Coordinator will be used by the Department to determine if entrance requirements need to be adjusted and if recruiting and retention efforts are satisfactory. The survey of supervisors/administrators, graduate advisors, and graduate students one year after graduation will allow the Department to identify those needed skills that are not currently provided by the programs. The USDA Cooperative States Research and Education Review and the University Review Program will be used to strengthen areas in the graduate program.

Student Performance Evaluation (Form I)
Exit Interview (Form II)
Exit Interview (Form III - Anonymous Responses)
Survey of Supervisors/Administrators - 1 Year Postgraduation (Form IV)
Survey of Graduate Advisors in PhD Program (Form V)
Survey of Graduate Students - 1 Year Postgraduation (Form VI)

top