The NSCS program uses multiple approaches to assess student learning outcomes, some direct and some indirect. Some are at the program level and some are at the course level. Some are administered on a regular schedule; others are ad hoc as we see a concern or issue to be addressed.
Course-level learning outcome assessment
The syllabus for each course under NSCS control includes reference to the program learning outcomes addressed by each of the course objectives. Course instructors typically use a broad array of measures to assess how well the students are meeting those objectives, including exams, quizzes, oral presentations, papers, homework, group projects, and in-class exercises.
Program-level learning outcome assessment
We use an array of assessment tools to assess how well the NSCS curriculum serves its students in reaching the student learning outcomes set out above.
We regularly survey our students at the end of each year, with surveys specific for pre-majors, majors, and graduating students. While these surveys are used to obtain feedback from the students on a variety of fronts – advising, involvement in NSCS-related clubs and in outreach, general concerns and so forth, we specifically ask for feedback on how well individual required classes have prepared them for higher level classes and how well specific courses helped them achieve the learning outcomes we specified for the program as a whole, which should of course reflect our mapping of learning outcomes.
All of these data are fully shared with the individual course instructors and with members of the curriculum committee and our Program Coordinator and used to fine-tune both the courses and our overall curriculum.
We also survey the graduating students, again including among the set of questions specific ones addressing their perception of the quality of the program from a curricular standpoint and from a learning outcomes standpoint (how well they believe the program provided them the knowledge and skills to meet the learning outcomes as well as how well they believe they met the learning outcomes.)
We also occasionally poll our core faculty with both curricular and programmatic questions. The core faculty comprises a relatively small group, however, so we rely mostly on discussion in our two committees: the Undergraduate Studies Committee, which handles requests for waivers that need discussion, admissions, awards, and the like, and the Curriculum Committee. Both have representatives from both the Cognitive Sciences Program and the Dept. of Neuroscience, and also have included in the past members of the Depts. of Psychology and Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. In addition, the Program Coordinator and sometimes the NSCS Advisor also attend. The work of these committees and feedback from our staff become the basis for extended discussion at annual and 3-year review and planning meetings.
We also survey our NSCS alumni.
In addition, we have undertaken several end-of-program assessment strategies, including student surveys, a pre-post-program test, and interviews