Assessment of Learning Outcomes

Bachelor of Science Program in Mathematics and Statistics

 

The assessment of student achievement of learning objectives is accomplished primarily by a three-step process.

 

(1)  Periodic departmental review of curricula and major requirements to ensure that they encompass all of the learning objectives. The department Curriculum Committee is charged with making this assessment and presenting recommendations for change to the department.

(2)  Monitoring of each studentŐs progress by the studentŐs advisor. The advisor designs an appropriate program of study that accomplishes core objectives in a timely fashion and is tailored to the studentŐs interests and career goals.

(3)  Assessment of the studentŐs attainment of learning objectives in the context of the relevant courses. Students are evaluated by exams, written assignments and oral presentations. Exams are graded according to objective standards. Assessment and grading policies of junior faculty are reviewed for appropriateness to department standards. Student mastery of material and methods is necessary for success in subsequent coursework. Thus basic knowledge of core knowledge is tested not only in core courses, but repeatedly in advanced elective courses. Gradual mastery of key skills such as mathematical reasoning and proof, problem-solving and communication is evaluated throughout the curriculum, with rising expectations in the upper level courses.

 

The professional culture is communicated in diverse ways, in the classroom and in individual contacts with faculty and visitors, through the student Math-Stat Club, department colloquia and other department events. The Student Affairs Committee and Colloquium Committee are primarily responsible for these activities, which are in the scope of the annual department assessment of its accomplishments.

 

Below we list learning objectives with the particular courses and activities that most directly address each objective.

 

(1)  Working knowledge of core subjects: calculus and differential equations, linear algebra, statistics. Required courses: MA 125, 126, 227, 237, 238, 354; ST 210 or 315, ST 335.

(2)  In-depth knowledge of many areas of modern mathematics and statistics. Elective upper-division courses.

(3)  Understanding of the role of proof in mathematics, with the ability to construct simple proofs. Gradually developed throughout the curriculum, with increased emphasis in MA 237, 311, 316, 320, 321, 367, 334, 335, 413, 414, 434, 437 and 451.

(4)  Problem solving: the ability to develop and use mathematical and statistical models, devise problem-solving strategies, collect and analyze data, locate suitable reference materials, and use appropriate technology. Developed throughout the curriculum, with particular emphasis in the core courses and modeling courses (ST 335 and MA 354), MA 436 and 458, and all upper-level statistics courses.

(5)  Communication skills: proficiency in technical and expository writing, including writing proofs, and in oral presentation of technical material. Addressed most particularly in our W courses (MA 320, 354, 410, 413, 414, 458 and ST 480) and the Seminar in Contemporary Mathematics and Statistics (MA 150/ ST 150). Department colloquia provide students with additional models for oral expository and technical communication.

(6)  Familiarity with the use of mathematics and statistics in other disciplines. Applications are a prominent feature of all of the core courses and modeling courses, and many upper-division courses. Use of mathematics and statistics in other disciplines is addressed explicitly in courses in those disciplines. Majors are required to take natural science courses as part of the Arts and Sciences core, and directed by advisors toward additional extradisciplinary courses appropriate to their interests and career goals.

(7)  Awareness of professional culture: Familiarity with the history and modern developments of mathematics and statistics, its scope, and the wide range of occupations in which mathematicians and statisticians are currently employed. The history and development of mathematics and statistics are the subjects of MA 410 and MA 150/ ST 150. In addition, they are incorporated at relevant points in other coursework, with recent developments appearing particularly in 300 and 400-level courses. Department colloquia given by faculty and visitors help accomplish this objective, as well as resources posted on our website and bulletin boards.