Tag: program assessment
There is a long-storied tradition in college education that about mid-way through the spring semester students are given a week off to catch up on sleep, rest, and schoolwork. The hope is that with this time off, students will be renewed and ready to refocus and finish the semester with a bang. But who am I kidding – many students use the time to work on their tans and act inappropriately on the beach or attack a ski slope. I guess these forms of escapism are useful in building focus for the remainder of the year.
What is less commonly mentioned is the fact that faculty need this break, too. For every dozen or so tired students needing to rest and catch up, there is a faculty member who needs it just as much. At McMurry we are just concluding spring break and will return to classes on Monday. Although rest and re-creation have been part of the formula for faculty, so has the “getting caught up” part of the equation.
Besides the normal “getting caught up” in our classes – grading in particular – the break has also been filled with other job-related activities. At the top of the list has been creation of the BIMS 4000 Junior Exam. One important component of our on-going program assessment and provision of evidence of student learning is the Junior Exam taken by all junior BIMS majors (thus the name ). It is an online exam composed of questions taken from all BIMS courses during the freshman and sophomore years. My responsibility is to collect these questions and input them into Moodle to create the exams. Students will take them as often as needed to obtain a passing score. Questions range from basic to advanced and cover all learning goals for BIMS majors. My goal is to have it ready for students by April 1st so they may have a month of unlimited attempts.
Also occupying Spring Break has been nearly daily work with our architect to refine the floorplan and equipment list for the microbiology and molecular biology labs to be renovated this summer. Though space will be tight, the facility will be a showcase of utility and student-centered learning spaces. Don’t worry- there’ll be plenty of updates on this as time goes on and everyone will be invited to the grand opening in the fall.
Can’t wait til Spring Break is over so I can take a break!
This summer the Biomedical Science program was able to purchase several new pieces of equipment to support teaching of genetics and molecular biology courses. Most notable, our aging Bio-Rad MyCycler thermocycler has a new partner-in-crime, a Bio-Rad real-time PCR thermocycler that will add capability for teaching and research. Additionally, a new Bio Tek Ultra Microplate spectrophotometer and Nanodrop microvolume analyzer will help in analysis of samples. We have two additional tissue culture hoods on order which will replace one old biological safety cabinet and add capacity for additional student work. Chemistry was also able to purchase a gel documentation system. Add to those the Hermle centrifuge obtained in May and it is clear the capabilities of our faculty and students has been significantly upgraded over the past six months.
So how was this done during trying economic times by a university that is not wealthy? Several contributing factors made this possible. First, budget decisions are based on assessment results. BIMS faculty have been careful to document the weaknesses of students through the years and make a strong case for expenditures to improve teaching and learning. They also have demonstrated how the purchases have led to gains in student performance, both through gains in Major Field Test scores and also in student involvement in research opportunities. The research-rich curriculum of BIMS courses helps justify funding through departmental budget allocations and capital funds that have to be spent on capital items. Second, the curricular innovation provided by the BIMS major supports President Russell’s Vision 2023 call for enhanced research for students and faculty, relevant programs, and attention to graduating students competitive for jobs of the next 20 years. Also, funds provided by generous donors to the Imagine – Shaping the Future Capital Campaign have helped supply some of the funding not provided by other means. When you are doing exciting things aligned with the vision and goals, and your efforts support the strategic plan, appreciative administrations are more likely to reward you!
Who wins? McMurry’s students! Their success is why we are here!