The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) assessment program is entitled “Improvement of Academic Programs through Outcomes Assessment,” with the emphasis on Program Improvement. The College assessment effort is organized by a Steering Committee whose members are responsible for overseeing the assessment process, a Coordinating Committee of representatives from each undergraduate program, a Coordinating Committee of representatives from each graduate program, and a Faculty Associate working with the Associate Dean for Academic Programs who coordinates the entire effort.
For the first two years of the University of Arizona “Advancing Student Learning Through Outcomes Assessment” initiative, the CALS effort has concentrated on undergraduate programs. All undergraduate programs have defined learning outcomes for their respective majors and options (if applicable) within the major, all programs have been using measurement tools to assess how well their program is achieving these learning outcomes, and most of the programs have used these data to modify and improve their programs.
The College has also developed learning outcomes for all CALS undergraduate students. The Program Improvement Steering Committee suggested these outcomes to the CALS Executive Committee after being reviewed by the Undergraduate Program Improvement Outcomes Coordinating Committee.
The CALS assessment of graduate programs began in March 2002. The Faculty Associate to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs organized a talk by Graduate College Dean Gary Pivo to the CALS presenting his ideas on graduate education, graduate programs, and assessment of graduate programs. The Graduate Program Improvement Coordinating Committee was constituted over the Spring Semester 2002. All of the graduate programs, except one that is still actively framing its outcomes, have developed learning outcomes for their students. Since assessment of graduate programs is very much a part of what we do in training graduate students, most programs have measurement methods in place and many have used results to modify and improve programs. This process has encouraged many programs to develop new measurement tools and to setup a processes by which to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs in helping students meet the desired outcomes.
Learning Outcomes for All Programs in the CALS
- Demonstrate competencies in subject matter by applying knowledge and solving problems.
- Become involved in a productive career.
- Develop leadership and interpersonal skills.
- Understand evolving principles in a discipline and be able to transfer knowledge to new situations.
- Be open to new ideas and information.
- Appreciate the integrative nature of knowledge.
- Understand the relationship of the Agricultural and Life Sciences to other areas of study and be able to make informed and ethical choices of benefit to society.
- Understand social, economic, political and scientific principles.