College of Natural Sciences

MS in Nutritional Science

Assessment Summary Update

In general the assessment of the MS degree in Nutritional Science has two levels of assessment, direct and indirect assessment. Direct assessment involves evaluation of assignments in courses (see curriculum matrix and additional assignments as determined by the department faculty) and indirect assessment involves analysis of alumni surveys administered to students during a self-study. Each year faculty identify one specific SLO or content area to assess. A summary of assessment results and actions is provided below.


The primary assessment project was to evaluate that students "demonstrate proficient oral communication skills." A random sample of presentations were video-taped in NFSC 641—Topics in Macronutrients and were evaluated by two faculty who frequently teach graduate level courses. Ten oral presentations were evaluated using a rubric from AACU (1 = benchmark to 4 = capstone).

In a class of ~20 graduate students, 10 oral presentations were randomly collected for assessment purposes. Two faculty rated each paper and scores between raters were averaged.

Overall, students scored between 2.7 and 3.15 out of a 4-point rubric. Scores were slightly lower in the areas of language, delivery, and supporting materials.

Faculty discussed the findings and recommended the following actions.

  • Lecture/discussion/demonstration will be added to NFSC 660 Nutrition Education.
  • Students will evaluate peers using rubrics such as the Oral Communication Value Rubric.


The primary assessment project was to evaluate that students demonstrate proficient oral communication skills in the area of professionalism. In a class of ~20 graduate students, 7 conducted mock dietetic internship interviews with NFSC staff or faculty. Students were rated on a scale from 1 to 3 with 3 being highest and 1 being lowest on the following six interviewing categories: 1) email etiquette, 2) appearance, 3) communication style, 4) interview skills, 5) questioning, and 6) politeness. Scores ranged from 2.6 to 2.9. The most common suggestions for improvement were: appearance/dress; eye contact; and more specific answers needed tied to preparation for a dietetic internship program.

Faculty discussed the findings and recommended the following actions.

  • Overall, student professional interview skills were high and no direct action needed. Since this was a voluntary activity and students felt the experience was helpful, the faculty agreed to allow graduate students to participate in mock interviews associated with our undergraduate courses NFSC 455 and 457 where students are provided direct feedback after the conclusion of the interview.


The primary assessment project was to evaluate students' ability to critically evaluate and analyze the scientific literature. Quiz questions were evaluated in the NFSC 600 Research Methods course with 14 students. The objectives of this project were 1) to assess students' ability to develop an appropriate data analysis approach and 2) assess students' ability to interpret research. Results showed that the questions students were more likely to miss were those related to statistical analysis and understanding.

Faculty discussed the findings from indirect assessment and recommended the following actions.

  • Consider developing a graduate level journal club and regularly meet with graduate students who could benefit from additional support in the area of research and statistics or have them join Dr. Holland's undergraduate journal club. (I added this last one as I think a few have done it)
  • Give a quiz at the beginning of the NFSC 600 class to identify possible areas for improvement among some students and develop specific assignments that address those areas.
  • Develop a program policy that encourages students to attend thesis defenses and research seminars on campus.


Over the course of discussions of curriculum in 2014-15, faculty felt students who were interested in pursuing careers in nutrition management needed more skills in the area of financial management. Thus, the primary assessment project was to evaluate students' abilities in financial management as it relates to careers in nutrition and foodservice management. More specifically, the faculty want to ensure that students have the ability to create and interpret a budget and financial statements as it relates to managing nutrition and foodservice operations. Budgeting assignments were analyzed in in NFSC 530 -Nutrition Program Management and Administration, an elective course at the graduate level. There were 8 budget assignments, 5 of which were specific to budget formatting, formulas and auto-filling. Scores from the first assignments to the last were compared. These 5 assignments were grouped, averaged and compared pre to post. There was a significant decrease in scores from the beginning of the semester to the end of the semester and this was likely due to the fact that as the assignment progressed, it became more complicated.

Faculty discussed the findings and the following recommendation was made.

  • The next time the instructor teaches the course, she plans to do an evaluation after every individual budget assignment to assess student understanding and review concepts they are confused about before moving on to more advanced budgeting concepts.


Coming soon!