Undergraduate students upon graduation with a B.A. or B.S. degree in chemistry:
In addition to the assessment measures listed for B.S. and B.A. undergraduates, graduate students upon graduation with a M.S. or Ph.D. in chemistry:
Undergraduate students who successfully pass the chemistry courses, appropriate required and elective courses outside of the department, and receive undergraduate research course credit in the B.S. or B.A. degree chemistry curriculum demonstrate that they:
In addition to the assessment measures listed for B.S. and B.A. undergraduates, graduate students who successfully pass the chemistry courses, appropriate required and elective courses outside of the department, proficiency requirements, preliminary oral requirement, seminar requirement, and successfully defend a final defense of their research in pursuing an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in chemistry curriculum demonstrate that they:
The curricula in chemistry for the B.A. and B.S. degrees are approved by the American Chemical Society (ACS), which reviews our course offerings, laboratory facilities, instrumentation, examinations, student undergraduate research reports, etc. every five years. Students who successfully complete all of the required courses and approved electives in the chemistry program obtain an ACS certified baccalaureate degree. The American Chemical Society appoints a review team to conduct an on-site inspection, interview faculty, students, and staff, and evaluate our entire undergraduate chemistry program. For the past fifty years, our undergraduate chemistry major program has passed this external review and evaluation. The success of this external review demonstrates the validity of Assessment Measures for Outcomes 1 - 8.
Over the past three years, we have tracked where our undergraduate chemistry majors go and what they do after graduation. About half go on to graduate schools, about 40% obtain employment in industry or government, The remaining percentage of chemistry majors enter professional schools in medicine, law, etc. or are secondary school chemistry teachers. From time to time we receive reports from employers or graduate schools about the success of our chemistry majors. The success of our undergraduates over the past 50 years demonstrates the validity of the Assessment Measure for Outcome 10.
Our undergraduate chemistry majors enroll in Chem 550 "Chemistry Safety". Credit earned in this course is an indicator that the student is proficient in Outcome #7 - knows the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals.
Chemistry undergraduate majors who take Chem 399 or Chem 499 Undergraduate Chemistry Research often give oral presentations in research group meetings, present posters of their chemistry research at chemistry or honors poster sessions, or present research papers (oral talks supported by PowerPoint presentations) at regional or national meetings of the American Chemical Society. Successful credit earned in this course is an indicator that the student demonstrates Outcome #6 able to use modern library searching and retrieval methods to obtain information about a topic, chemical, chemical technique, or an issue relating to chemistry; Outcome 7 - knows the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling and use of chemicals and can follow the proper procedures and regulations for safe handling when using chemicals; and Outcome #8 - able to communicate the results of their work to chemists and non-chemists.
Specific Changes to Our Undergraduate Chemistry Program Over the Past Four Years As a Result of Monitoring the Results of Our Assessment Measures
Graduating seniors are informally interviewed by either the advisor or the chair as they approach completion of the degree. Such feedback is given to the Curriculum, Undergraduate Activities and/or Graduate Activities committees for faculty discussion and further curricular implementation.
Informal recitation sections (one hour each week) with Chemistry 331 (undergraduate organic chemistry) are being offered. These were created voluntarily by the instructors, and were supported by the department with two teaching assistants, and received strongly positive response from students who attend these sessions. The department, however, remains reluctant to require recitation with these courses because it would necessitate an additional credit hour to the course, and, as such, may interfere with the degree requirements of other majors.
The most recent ACS review of our curricula required us to include a 3-credit course in the area of biochemistry for those students who wish to be certified as chemists by the ACS. This was done to put our undergraduate chemistry program in compliance with the new ACS undergraduate chemistry major guidelines. We were approved to allow several advanced chemistry courses that include a substantial amount of biochemistry as a course option to fulfill this requirement.
The most recent ACS review of our curricula required us to keep copies of all Chem 399 and Chem 499 undergraduate research reports for a period of five years. This was done to put our undergraduate chemistry program in compliance with the new ACS undergraduate chemistry major guidelines.
The analytical and physical chemistry laboratory courses have eliminated obsolete experiments and introduced several modern experiments using state of the art instrumentation.
Over the course of the 2004-2005 academic year, the Department of Chemistry's Curriculum Committee conducted a self-examination of its graduate and undergraduate curricula. The starting point of our study of the graduate curriculum was a set of two similar anonymous surveys: one to our faculty and one to our graduate students. Both philosophical and practical questions were asked, and responses were open ended.
Among the sentiments to come from the faculty survey were: 1) that the intent of the curriculum ought to be both fundamental science and preparation for research; 2) that some felt we should be more "modular" in approach; 3) that some felt our cume system ought to be dropped, while others firmly supported it; 4) that there was some sentiment for streamlining requirements to get students into the lab full time more quickly; and 5) that our inorganic curriculum needed to respond to a dropping enrollment and our analytical curriculum needed refreshing.
Among the sentiments to come from the student survey were: 1) that the course offerings should NOT be made less rigorous or requirements for coursework lowered; 2) that the analytical curriculum needed refreshing; 3) cumes were not a loved experience nor without problems, but were generally supported as worthwhile and positive learning experiences.
As a result of these surveys and further discussions, it was decided that the curriculum's basic structure was meeting our needs, and that the need to "reform" was largely in content. After this survey, most sentiment to reduce course or cume requirements were seen largely in terms of competition with other graduate schools. It was chosen not to "race to the bottom" without further evidence of this being a positive step. Two substantive actions were taken after significant further internal discussions: revisions of both the analytical and inorganic curricula. (The organic curriculum was similarly revised within the last 5 years.) As revised, they are now:
Analytical: all majors must take 9 units among the following as part of their 17 units:
Inorganic: Revamped course offerings will be as follows:
The graduate program receives frequent scrutiny by faculty with input from the graduate students. Recent changes to the program were the result of discussions with a graduate student-faculty liaison committee, involving both students and faculty. The main outcome of these discussions was to promote enhanced communication between faculty and students with respect to expectations and performance toward completing the advanced degree. The primary issues for discussion in future years include (a) the impact and further developments of "dedivisionalization;" (b) the significance of cumulative examinations; and (c) the role of the Program of Study committee.
Dedivisionalization: At the graduate level, there is a growing group of students who are interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research. This trend is also reflected in our faculty. For this reason, the Department recently established the "Chemistry" major. Another mechanism is for a student to have co-major professors. Although this is a clear trend, there remains significant sentiment among many faculty and students to retain the traditional disciplines: Analytical, Inorganic, Organic, and Physical. In many ways, the Department has moved to dedivisionalize -- in the seminar program, in the offering of cumulative exams, in student advising and mentoring, but divisions remain, largely for teaching assignments. Nevertheless, as the culture of the Department changes during the next several years with new faculty members with research interests that transcend traditional disciplines, the Department will necessarily need to evaluate how these changes will affect the graduate program.
Cumulative Examinations: This part of the graduate program remains moderately controversial among faculty members and graduate students. Those in favor of these written exams cite educational benefits and focused preparation of special topics as benefits; those opposed are concerned with their impact on student recruiting. The Department certainly notices many competing departments in the nation eliminating cumulative exams from their programs, so discussion will continue.
Program of Study (POS) Committees: One outcome of the student-faculty liaison committee was to initiate annual meetings between graduate students and their POS committees to enhance student-faculty communication. The Department needs to assess the effectiveness of this part of the graduate program as well as to examine ways to improve the annual review of graduate students, which typically occurs in late May or early June, which is well into the Summer semester. This is much too late to properly advise first-year students who are having academic difficulties. More effective means of rewarding exceptional students as well as recognizing weaker students are necessary.
Iowa State University Catalog Undergraduate and Graduate Courses and Programs, 2005-2007, pages 162-165.
Graduate Manual Department of Chemistry, 2005-2006.
Departmentof Chemistry Self Study 2000-2005, pages VII 5-VII 8.