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School of Pharmacy|College of Health Sciences

Committee Spotlight: Assessment

March 19, 2014 — Committees at the University of Wyoming School of Pharmacy are a very important part of the administrative structure of the school. Faculty, staff, and student members of these committees work very hard behind the scenes throughout the year. In order to increase awareness and provide information to our alumni, faculty, staff, and students of the efforts and accomplishments of our committees, we feature committee spotlights in our quarterly newsletter, the News Capsule. These features show how the committees are positively impacting our program and our students. In December 2013, the Curriculum and Instruction Committee was featured.

This month, the Assessment Committee is in the spotlight.

The Assessment Committee is made up of two students, one staff, five faculty, and two administrators.


Using evidence (assessment data), the mission of the committee is to identify strengths and opportunities for improvement with the UW School of Pharmacy (SOP) program, student/faculty/staff outcomes and curricular design (in conjunction with the Curriculum and Instruction Committee).

Goals and objectives

On an ongoing basis, the committee:

  • identifies assessment needs and develops methodologies when necessary.

  • evaluates internal and external assessment results for strengths and opportunities for improvement.

  • communicates findings with appropriate recommendations for curricular and programmatic change to appropriate SOP committees, faculty and other stakeholders.

  • follows-up on recommendations from appropriate stakeholders (e.g. faculty, administration, alumni, etc.).


  1. An assessment of our advising process indicated that students were very pleased with academic advising but desired additional information regarding career planning. Exit survey information from P4 students also indicated an interest in career and residency preparation/planning, particularly as career and post-graduate opportunities have become more competitive. 

    Programmatic changes made include:

    • Incorporating a stronger career planning emphasis in the P1 Role of a Pharmacist course. Students now focus on individual career exploration and identifying ‘critical factors’ important to them in their future career.

    • Connecting off-campus pharmacy practice faculty members to each academic advisor to provide students with an additional resource for career planning questions.

    • Implementing a career-planning elective to increase student confidence and success through targeted information and preparation (e.g. CV preparation, interviewing).

  2. Creating a standardized format for analyzing and reporting results to faculty.

  3. Piloting use of new assessment modalities (e.g. live polling of students/faculty) and discontinuing instruments that provided consistent findings year-to year. This helps decrease survey burden and/or allows the committee to focus on new assessment areas.

  4. Updating the School’s global Student Learning Outcomes and associated competencies, in conjunction with the Curriculum and Instruction Committee.

  5. Implementing a longitudinal project to assess students’ critical-thinking abilities across the curriculum.


A challenge for the committee is sheer amount of data that must be obtained, analyzed and disseminated. As a School, we aim for continuous improvement and look for ways in which data can guide that process. In addition, our accrediting agency requires schools/colleges of pharmacy to assess every component of our respective programs. These two factors create a lot of data to manage! We have to identify ways to meet internal goals plus accreditation standards in the most efficient and effective manner.

Another challenge occasionally faced relates to low survey response rates. Surveying students, faculty and other stakeholders is often a useful mechanism to obtain data; however, when response rates are low it makes the data difficult to interpret and difficult for the committee to propose a course of action. Stakeholders may not realize how important this information is to us and how it is used to verify that we are on track or to identify areas where we can improve the program.

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