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Ecosystem Science and Management|College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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Ecosystem Science and Management
Agriculture Building 2013
Department #3354
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: (307) 766-3114

Assessment Of Student Learning

Development and implementation of short- and long-term student learning assessment protocols in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management are in the initial stages of establishment. Following is a summary of our program goals, student assessment activities, and problems, challenges, and issues in obtaining accurate and comprehensive student learning assessment instruments.   

Program Goals: The department has identified broad, overall academic program goals, but has not yet had an opportunity to formulate degree-specific comprehensive goals. Following are general departmental learning expectations for students enrolled in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management:

  1. Students must have effective communication skills (written & oral) upon completion of  their degree programs;
  2. Students must be familiar with contemporary technology related to their disciplinary degree program (e.g., GIS, remote sensing, stable isotope analysis, water quality analysis, soil analysis, etc.);
  3. Students must be proficient using contemporary electronic sources to obtain state-of-the science related to their respective disciplines (e.g., internet web sites, computer data bases,  etc.);
  4. Students must demonstrate proficiency in critical computer software program (e.g., word processing, statistical analysis, graphics, etc.);
  5. Students must be able to synthesize the knowledge acquired from academic programs into practical applied management solutions (consistent with our degree program focuses on applied research and management); and
  6. Students must possess an adequate understanding of the major academic areas of their respective disciplines (e.g., Entomology- insect biology, insect ecology, taxonomy,  anatomy/physiology; REWM- plant taxonomy, plant physiology, vegetation ecology,  management; Soil Science- soil physics, soil chemistry, ecology, soil classification). 

More comprehensive, degree-specific learning go will be formulated in the future as Departmental faculty continues on-going discussions of these topics.

Summary Of Assessment Activities: Assessment activities include exit interviews with randomly selected students, interviews with selected alumni, visits with employers of recent graduates, discussion with faculty teaching capstone courses (to determine breadth of student knowledge), and evaluation of graduate student post-graduation publication and accomplishment records. The purpose of these limited assessment activities is to determine breadth and depth of student knowledge, and future needs for curriculum revisions. As staff support and resource availability increases, the Department will develop more sophisticated, comprehensive assessment instruments.

Efforts To Track Students: In December 2006, an alumni survey was distributed with the Department's annual Christmas newsletter in an attempt to obtain information on alumni employment areas, professional accomplishments, and to solicit suggestions/input for enhancing the Department's degree programs to meet future professional employment needs of our students. We are in the process of summarizing alumni responses to date, and plan to present the survey results on this link in the near future. In addition to this recent alumni survey, the Departmental faculty utilizes opportunistic situations to visit with graduates (e.g., professional meetings, telephone visits, e-mail correspondence, etc.). The Department plans to refine and develop more comprehensive post-graduate surveys and long-term alumni tracking mechanisms as resources and staff support improves.

Problems, Challenges, and Issues with Assessment: Undergraduate and graduate student enrollment in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management is escalating each academic year. Demand from prospective employers for recent graduates trained in applied natural resource research, management, teaching, out-reach education, and service is also increasing as the "baby-boomer" generation reaches retirement age. To meet the educational needs of our escalating student enrollments and demand from prospective future employers, the Department is continually adding new faculty and reconfiguring our academic programs. It is essential to keep our academic programs on the "cutting edge" to keep pace with professional employment needs of our future, recent, and long-term graduates. This will require development and implementation of comprehensive short- and long-term student learning assessment protocols and measuring instruments. We will continue working to develop and refine assessment protocols to obtain accurate and comprehensive input from our graduates, which will be applied towards continual enhancement of our academic curricula.

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