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Applied BioSciences Graduate Interdisciplinary Program

Overview: 

The Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Applied Biosciences is designed to prepare students to enter a competitive, scientific workforce. The Applied Biosciences program consists of foundational and practical training in various areas of applied biosciences and along with a professional component that includes internships and "cross-training" in workplace skills, such as business, communications, and regulatory affairs. During the two-year course of study, students will gain a strong understanding of the applications of the biological sciences to real world problems, including those faced by public institutions and private industry. For more details about the nationwide PSM initiative see: http://sciencemasters.com.

A minimum of 36 credit hours (units) is needed to be completed for this degree; 9 of these units are for the research internship and report. Students have a maximum of 6 years to complete the degree. Students may apply for, and be admitted to, any of the 5 tracks (“sub-plans”):

  • Controlled Environment Agriculture
  • Diagnostic Laboratory Sciences
  • Industrial Microbial Biotechnology
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Medical Microbiology and Immunology
Expected Learning Outcomes: 

 The PSM-ABS Executive Committee recognized five broad common learning goals (competency areas), and translated these into five learning outcomes that students are expected to attain during their studies in the program.  Thus, students completing a PSM in the PSM-ABS GIDP will be adept in:

  1. Participating in research, business, regulatory, or customer- and public-relations teams in a professional manner while completing assigned tasks in a timely and efficient way.
  2. Understanding and discussing the status of the field and the underlying applied biological problems relevant to their internship work.
  3. Understanding and discussing the business, regulatory, customer relations, and/or educational environment relevant to their internship work.
  4. Applying appropriate methods to collect, analyze, interpret and critique data relevant to their internship.
  5. Communicating the results, findings and implications of their internship projects in a professional and effective manner to their peers and broader clientele, both in writing and orally.

All learning outcomes will be measured by two separate instruments, reflecting the perspectives of the student and the faculty.  Aggregate numbers for the student and the faculty perspectives will be reported separately.

The student perspectives on all Learning Outcomes will be measured by the Student Exit Survey.

The faculty perspective on Learning Outcome 1 will be measured by considering the Evaluation of the Intern Form submitted to the program by the Internship Supervisor.

The faculty perspective on Learning Outcomes 2-5 will be measured by considering the answers provided by the Master’s Internship Committee to the Learning Outcomes survey, shown below.

Learning objective

Instrument

Question

1.  Participating in teams effectively

Evaluation of the Intern

Exit survey

Average of all questions

A

2. Understanding the field of internship

Outcome survey

Exit survey

A, B

B.

3. Understanding the business and professional environment

Outcome survey

Exit survey

C

C

4. Applying appropriate methods

Outcome survey

Exit survey

D, E

D

5.  Communicating the results

Outcome survey

Exit survey

F, G, H, I, J

E

Learning Outcomes Survey

Professional Science Master’s in Applied Biosciences GIDP

 

Name of the Student:

 

Please evaluate the student on each criterion with a score between 1 and 5.  You may provide a brief comment on the rationale of your scores, if necessary.  Please submit your completed scoring sheet to the Program Coordinator.

NA: Not Applicable

1: Needs improvement

2: Fair

3: Average

4: Good

5: Superb

 

______                A. Comprehensive review of the status of the scientific field applicable to the internship

______                B. Clear and relevant objectives and problem addressed by the internship

______                C. Clear description of the business case / commercial environment applicable to the internship

______                D. Appropriate methods used to address the problem

______                E. Appropriate analysis and interpretation of the internship findings

______                F. Clearly written and well-organized internship report

______                G. Clear and well-organized oral presentation

______                H. Well defended interpretations and conclusions of the internship findings

______                I. Ability to describe the broader implications of the internship findings for the field

______                J. Ability to answer questions in a clear, substantial and professional manner

 

Comments:

 

 

 

 

______________________________      _____________________________        ________________

Name of the Committee Member                            Signature                                             Date                     

Student Exit Survey

Professional Science Master’s in Applied Biosciences GIDP

Your name:

 

Please place an X in each row to indicate the degree to which your program provided the opportunity to:

 

Excellent

Good

Neutral

Fair

Poor

Comments

A. Participate in an applied bioscience research team

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. Acquire a broad knowledge in my field

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. Acquire knowledge in the business and professional aspects of applied bioscience research

 

 

 

 

 

 

D. Identify and apply appropriate research methods

 

 

 

 

 

 

E. Improve my ability to defend research results to scientific peers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please describe improvements that you feel the ABS-PSM GIDP should be making to provide better learning opportunities in the future.

Please provide us with your email and mailing address for future communications from the ABS-PSM GIDP.

Assessment Activities: 

All learning outcomes will be measured by two separate instruments, reflecting the perspectives of the student and the faculty.  Aggregate numbers for the perspectives of the student and the faculty will be reported separately.

The student perspectives on all Learning Outcomes will be measured by the Student Exit Survey.

The faculty perspective on Learning Outcome 1 will be measured by considering the Evaluation of the Intern Form submitted to the program by the Internship Supervisor.

The faculty perspective on Learning Outcomes 2-5 will be measured by considering the answers provided by the Master’s Internship Committee to the Learning Outcomes survey, shown in Table A.

 

Table A.  Relation of Learning objectives, Instruments and Questions

Learning objective

Instrument

Question

1.  Participating in teams effectively

Evaluation of the Intern

Exit survey

Average of all questions

A

2. Understanding the field of internship

Outcome survey

Exit survey

A, B

B

3. Understanding the business and professional environment

Outcome survey

Exit survey

C

C

4. Applying appropriate methods

Outcome survey

Exit survey

D, E

D

5.  Communicating the results

Outcome survey

Exit survey

F, G, H, I, J

E

 

Forms for the Evaluation of the Intern, for the Outcome Survey, and for the Exit Survey are available electronically on the program website: http://appliedbiosci.arizona.edu/

The Learning Outcome Survey forms are filled out and submitted to the Program Chair and the Program Coordinator by each faculty member making up the students’ committee.  The ABS-PSM faculty involved in these assessment activities uses their knowledge and expertise to judge the level of the students’ performance in relation to specific measures which, in their turn, correspond to the specific learning outcomes as shown above. The scores determine how well the students meet our expectations. In addition, it is important to note that the scores obtained by the assessment activities are considered indirect measures of learning outcomes, because they are not strictly comparable or quantifiable.

Assessment Findings: 

Once each year, summarized data from the assessment activities will be reviewed by the ABS-PSM EC. 

The findings for each semester are presented below in Table B.  For each semester, there was variation in participation within events (all faculty filling out the forms, vs. only some providing feedback).  All PSM graduates filled out an exit survey and provided suggestions and observations relevant to the program.

Table B. Learning outcome scores (LOS).  Data are shown averaged for each semester, starting in 2016.  Each event was for a different student.  Faculty perspectives and student perspectives are shown for each LO.  For each student/event evaluated by a committee, the average scores of the committee are calculated first for each learning outcome across all relevant questions for a particular LO, with 3-5 faculty reporting for each student/event.  These averages are then used to calculate the mean LOS shown in the table for each learning outcome across all events for the assessment period. A score of 1 represents “needs improvement”, 2 is defined as “fair”, 3 is “average”, 4 is “good” and 5 represents “superb” performance.

   

SCORES

Learning objective

Instrument

Spring 2016

Fall 2016

Spring 2017

1.  Participating in teams effectively

Faculty: Evaluation of the Intern

4.6

5.0

4.6

Student: Exit survey

4.9

5.0

4.3

2. Understanding the field of internship

Faculty: Outcome survey

4.75

4.0

4.4

Student: Exit survey

4.9

3.3

4.5

3. Understanding the business and professional environment

Faculty: Outcome survey

*

3.2

4

Student: Exit survey

*

4.3

4.4

4. Applying appropriate methods

Faculty: Outcome survey

4.1

3.2

4.4

Student: Exit survey

4.3

3.0

4.3

5.  Communicating the results

Faculty: Outcome survey

4.1

3.4

4.1

Student: Exit survey

3.9

3.2

4.4

   

N= 8

N=2

N= 10

* Data are omitted. The relevant questions had to be reworded due to misunderstandings.

 

Given the small sample size in some semesters such as Fall 2016, means may be highly sensitive to variation among the performances of particular students as well as faculty judgments, all of which may obfuscate program strengths and weaknesses.  

It must be noted that faculty expectations are necessarily set by their experiences with PhD students, not with MS students.  Similarly, it must be noted that the application-oriented, applied perspective of a Professional Master’s student is significantly different from the outlook and general understanding of an academically-oriented PhD student.

Our record of successful examinations indicates that our students are attaining the breadth of knowledge we expect for someone conducting research at the MS level. The record of our students in securing relevant jobs after graduation indicate that they attained skills in experimental design, technique, analysis and the synthetic thinking that is expected of successful science professionals. 

Exit surveys. Apart from scores, the Exit Surveys allow students to provide comments related to their experiences and opinions relevant for each measure.  Students can also offer suggestions on how the program may be improved to provide better learning opportunities.  These comments and suggestions are reviewed by the Program Chair and summarized for the EC during the discussion of the assessment findings. 

The students uniformly praised the open, flexible, and highly tailorable structure of the program, and recognized that the professional classes they had to take allowed them to be better-rounded employees and improved their “marketability” for jobs.  Multiple students remarked that their professors were “outstanding”.  They were pleased with the opportunity to do internships at biotech companies under real-world conditions and pressures, and thought that being part of these professional teams was highly valuable.  They remarked on the need to gather more experience in scientific writing and presentation skills.  They also indicated the need for the curricula of some business/professional classes to be better adapted towards scientists, as opposed to management students.  Many remarked on the changing availability of some classes; however this is not under the control of the ABS-PSM GIDP.  Several students emphasized the need for the program and the university in general to provide more resources for career development and networking.  This would be especially important for finding jobs in today’s competitive environment.

Change in Response to Findings: 

The first draft of the learning outcome assessment forms was used for the first time in the Fall semester of 2015.  This exercise was considered a pilot, and consequently data from 2015 are not reported here.  Instead, the data were used to refine both the Learning Goals and the assessment forms themselves.  The updated forms were then used first in 2016 Spring.  A further update to the forms was necessary at this point to better capture Learning Outcome 3., and avoid misunderstandings stemming from the original wording of the question.  The finalized instruments have been in use since the Fall semester of 2016.

The ABS-PSM Executive Committee considers that it will take 2-3 years to generate enough data to assess relative performance for each Outcomes, and to establish trends.  Thus, ABS-PSM anticipates that appropriate responses to the Program Outcomes Assessments can be formulated and changes may be implemented by the Fall semester of 2018.  These responses might include changes in the core curriculum, changed emphasis on particular electives, and other refinements, as deemed necessary by the Executive Committee.

 

Updated date: Tue, 07/25/2017 - 11:53