Program Evaluation

The Department of Psychology is committed to assessing the efficacy of its program. The courses that comprise the required coursework in our major are designed to reflect the best practices in undergraduate education in Psychology. Every year, we collect data from courses in our program to see if our majors:

  1. are learning what we want them to learn, and
  2. are showing progress in their knowledge compared to earlier in their academic path.

Adopted from those set by the American Psychological Association’s learning goals for undergraduate education (), the department assesses the following five learning goals:

  1. Knowledge base
  2.  Scientific inquiry & critical thinking
  3. Ethical & social responsibility in a diverse world
  4. Communication goal
  5. Professional development

In academic year 2018-2019 we evaluated: Goal #4: Communication.

Method: We collected sample writing exercises from three courses:

  1. Beginning: PSYC 2300, Psychology and the Human Experience
  2. Middle: PSYC 3320, Introduction to Applied Psychology
  3. Advanced: PSYC 3341, Research Methods I

Each was evaluated using a rubric that assessed how well students:

  1. Spelling
  2. Awareness of audience
  3. Accurate use of plural nouns and pronouns
  4. Avoid the use of quotations

Scores ranged from 1-4, (a score of 0 was assigned if none of the elements were present) with a score of 3 being the benchmark. That means that an element that had a score of 3 was evaluated as “below benchmark” and above as “above benchmark.”

Findings:

  1. Medium: There were no differences in performance between students on online or face2face classes, irrespective of the element evaluated or the class level.
  2. Irrespective of class level, students performed above the benchmark on:
    1. Accurate use of plural nouns and pronouns
    2. Avoid the use of quotations
  3. By mid-career, students improved their spelling, to rise above benchmark scores
  4. APA formatting and integration of citations were a challenge and earned below benchmark scores throughout the career path. Faculty will need to discuss whether to insert more training earlier in the curriculum on developing and applying citations and how to format and use them according to APA style.

Dissemination of results: Besides assessing our major the Department of Psychology is committed to disseminating our findings. Towards that end, we publish our findings on our department website.

In AY 2018-2019 we also investigated whether our learning goals were also compatible with one of the many career paths our students pursue. Specifically, many of our students have set a goal of attending graduate school, and a large number enroll in the UA Little Rock Social Work program. We, therefore, asked Dr. Jones, a faculty member in the School Social Work, who is in charge of assessment, to evaluate our learning goals and objectives for the fit with those for their Masters’ in Social Work. Dr. Jones told us our goals and objectives align with the nine competencies required by the accrediting body for Social Work.

In Fall we will report on our assessment of Learning Goal #2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking.