Indicators of Success

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SUMMARY OF LEARNING OUTCOMES ASSESSMENT FOR SCIENTIFIC METHOD AND ORAL PRESENTATIONS.


Student Learning Outcome

Sample and Sample Size

Measure

Percent of Students Achieving

Students demonstrate an understanding of, and ability to use, the processes and methods of scientific inquiry.

BIOL 151 
25 presentations

100% of rubric items for this SLO

76%

BIOL 400 and 412 
25 presentations

100% of rubric items for this SLO

44%

Students can formally communicate the results of biological investigations using both oral and written communication skills.

BIOL 151 
25 presentations

100% of rubric items for this SLO

44%

BIOL 400 and 412 
25 presentations

100% of rubric items for this SLO

64%

ANALYSIS / INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS

For the learning objective of understanding and applying the scientific method, 76% of the students in our lower division BIOL 151 course satisfactorily accomplished the six main elements of the use of the scientific method identified in our rubric, while only 44% of the students in the upper division courses BIOL 400 and BIOL 412 were able to demonstrate mastery of all 6 elements. All of the BIOL 151 presentations and experiments were done in groups, thus it is possible that only one member of the group needed to understand the scientific method in order for the group to design and present a satisfactory experiment. It is also possible that the greater emphasis on teaching the scientific method in this course, as it is an introductory course, directly led to the better performance, while instructors in the upper division courses erroneously assumed that students already knew the scientific method and needed no additional instruction.

While there was no element of the scientific method that 100% of the upper division students had mastered, the major difficulties were with presenting results (only 64% mastery) and drawing conclusions (76%). The problems with conclusions, and to a lesser extent with critiquing the results (80% mastery) are potentially the consequence of not having easily interpreted results to work from.

For oral and poster presentation skills students improved from 44% having 100% mastery of all 10 specific learning objectives in the first year BIOL 151 course to 64% in the upper-division courses. Two problem areas for the upper-division students, “use of visual aids” (84% mastery) and “ability to answer questions” (84% mastery), were probably related to the problems with presenting results and drawing conclusions mentioned above. The other main problem area was a tendency to read directly from notes; only 64% of the first year students didn’t do this, while 80% of the upper-division students were able to speak to the audience without reading their notes.

PLANNED PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT ACTIONS RESULTING FROM OUTCOMES (IF APPLICABLE)

How will the assessment data and their evaluation be used to improve the program? Possible actions might include revising courses, curricula, or other learning support mechanisms.

The poorer performance in some measures of the upper-division students compared to the BIOL 151 students could be due to students forgetting the training from BIOL 151 or because as many as a third of our upper division students are transfers from other colleges and may not have had the same training as is given in BIOL 151. We will improve the student instruction in graphing and analyzing data in the upper-division courses while providing them with more examples or proper graphs, as is done in BIOL 151, to see if this improves performance in these classes. More opportunities for students to speak in class will be needed to improve the other difficulties with oral presentations, which most likely just need more student practice.

PLANNED REVISION OF MEASURES OR METRICS (IF APPLICABLE)

No revisions to the metrics are planned

PLANNED REVISIONS TO PROGRAM OBJECTIVES OR LEARNING OUTCOMES (IF APPLICABLE)

None planned

CHANGES TO ASSESSMENT SCHEDULE (IF APPLICABLE)

No

INFORMATION FOR NEXT SEMESTER

We are planning to make improvement actions as mentioned above and to again reassess the SLO- “Students demonstrate an understanding of, and ability to use, the processes and methods of scientific inquiry.”  We also plan to assess written communication skills portion of the SLO- “Students can formally communicate the results of biological investigations using both oral and written communication skills.

Jeff Bell will be the contact person.

ASSESSMENT DATA SUMMARIES

Table 4. Percentage of students or groups satisfactorily accomplishing each of the specific learning objectives for communication or the scientific method. All of the BIOL 151 presentations represented group work, while 7 of the upper division presentations were from groups and 18 were individual presentations.

Lower (BIOL 151)

Upper (400&412)

25 presentations

25 presentations

Oral and Poster Communication Skills

Appropriate dress

96%

100%

Good posture

96%

100%

Good eye contact

84%

96%

Appropriate use of visual aids that are easily understood

100%

84%

Presentation not read

64%

80%

Easily heard by listeners

88%

100%

Language easily understood by listeners

100%

92%

Correct use of language, grammar, and spelling

88%

100%

Interacts effectively with listeners

100%

96%

Student is able answer questions posed by the listeners or at least offer a proposed explanation

100%

84%

100% of all objectives

44%

64%

Appropriate use of the scientific method

Well organized, with topic to be addressed clearly stated, a hypothesis and a prediction based on the hypothesis

100%

88%

Content presented is scientifically accurate

94%

92%

Materials and methods used to generate data clearly defined

96%

80%

Results presented in a clear and understandable form

84%

64%

Conclusions clearly described and based on data presented

92%

76%

Scientific critique of the conclusions is included

91%

80%

100% of all objectives

76%

44%

MEASUREMENT STANDARDS (RUBRICS, ETC.)

Oral and Poster Communication Skills Rubric Checklist (to be scored + or –)

Style*
__        __        __        __        __        __    Appropriate dress
__        __        __        __        __        __    Good posture       
__        __        __        __        __        __    Good eye contact
__        __        __        __        __        __    Appropriate use of visual aids that are easily understood     
__        __        __        __        __        __    Presentation not read 
__        __        __        __        __        __    Easily heard by listeners
__        __        __        __        __        __    Language easily understood by listeners
__        __        __        __        __        __    Correct use of language, grammar, and spelling
__        __        __        __        __        __    Student is able to answer questions posed by listeners or offer a proposed explanation

Understanding of and Ability to Use the Scientific Method Rubric Checklist (to be scored + or –)

            Well organized, with topic/question to be addressed clearly stated, a hypothesis, and a prediction based on the hypothesis
            Materials and methods used to generate data clearly defined
            Results presented in a clear and understandable form
            Conclusions clearly described and based on data presented
            Student is able to offer a scientific critique of the conclusions presented
            Content presented is scientifically accurate

Survey Instruments

None