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Department of Psychology
Undergraduate Program Outcome Assessment Report
Last updated 2/20/2004

Knowledge and skill goals for this undergraduate degree program are recorded in the most recent CU-Boulder catalog.

Outcome Assessment: History and Current Practice

In 1989-90 the department piloted a pre/post assessment process using a faculty-developed exam consisting of 50 multiple choice questions. The department Committee for Undergraduate Education (CUE) concluded that this approach was not satisfactory and between 1991 and 1997 asked graduating seniors to complete the Educational Testing Service's Major Field Achievement Test (MFAT) in psychology. CUE was disappointed in the utility of this means of judging program effectiveness and informing curriculum planning chiefly because of difficulties in obtaining a representative sample of seniors who would agree to take the test and doubts about the relevance of available norms. In 1998, annual MFAT assessment was replaced by a comprehensive assessment survey that asked graduating seniors to evaluate various aspects of our degree program. CUE has judged this approach as quite useful in providing guidance to curriculum planning. Beginning in spring 2004 we will administer the survey in a more efficient computer-based online form with the expectation that the response rate will increase beyond the 60-70% levels that we have obtained in the past. The survey includes questions asking graduating seniors to evaluate:

  • The quality of courses, curriculum, faculty, advising, lab equipment
  • The relative emphasis in the curriculum of various content areas
  • Their self-judged levels of skills and knowledge in various areas

Key Senior Assessment Results over the Past Four Years

A number of refinements were made in the survey in the first two years of its use, and in spring 2000 a final version was adopted. There have been four annual administrations of this instrument. The results over this four year span have been highly consistent from year to year. The data from the 2003 administration are appended to this report.

According to these data, a large majority of graduating seniors was satisfied with central aspects of our psychology major program, i.e.:

  • The department as a whole
  • The content of the curriculum in general
  • The quality of teaching in the department
  • The expertise and knowledge of the faculty
  • The availability of faculty outside the classroom
  • The willingness and knowledge of the staff academic advisors in providing advising about the major requirements
  • The relevance and fairness of the evaluation procedures used to assign grades
  • The degree to which the major requirements provide a comprehensive understanding of the field of psychology
  • The skill levels acquired as a psychology major

Within the context of this highly positive evaluation of our program the senior assessment data also revealed some specific program aspects that were evaluated negatively or as worthy of change by a sizable minority of seniors:

  • Lower division course enrollments were seen as much too large
  • Lower division courses were seen as too easy
  • A greater emphasis needed on writing skills, especially scientific report writing and on critical thinking skills
  • A greater emphasis needed on research design and experimental methodology
  • A greater emphasis needed on developmental and especially clinical psychology
  • A greater emphasis needed on the application of psychological principles to practical and social problems

Initiatives and Curriculum Changes in the Past Three Years Prompted in Part by Outcome Assessment Data

  • A new upper division laboratory and methods course, Research Methods in Clinical Psychology, was added to the curriculum for majors and is now offered each semester
  • Two new cognitive neuroscience courses were added to the curriculum
  • The number of senior level critical thinking courses with a clinical psychology content was increased
  • CUE developed and circulated to faculty a set of guidelines designed to strengthen the methodology component of the laboratory and methods courses
  • The enrollment cap was lowered in the required statistics/research methods course from 150 to 110, effective in Fall 2004

Current Initiative of the Committee for Undergraduate Education

As part of the implementation of a five-year strategic plan for the department, CUE is performing a cost/benefit analysis and will arrive at an implementation recommendation for each of the following proposals designed to decrease the number of psychology majors and improve the quality of the students and their education:

  • Set a GPA minimum requirement as a condition for becoming a psych major
  • Require majors to take more science and math courses
  • Require majors to take a separate statistics course and new methods course
  • Expand our honors program
  • Facilitate collaborative teaching endeavors
  • Add developmentally focused courses to the required curriculum

SENIOR ASSESSMENT SURVEY, 2003
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO AT BOULDER
DEPARTMENTAL EVALUATION QUESTIONNAIRE

The following is a summary of items from the senior assessment survey in the spring of 2003. Please note that if response percentages do not add up to 100%, it is because some students responded in a manner that was not amenable to coding.

Student Information:

1.How old are you?   (N=265)
 a.40 or older (0.8%)
 b.30-39 (1.5%)
 c.25-29 (4.5%)
 d.20-24 (92.1%)
 e.19 or younger (1.1%)
 
2.What is your gender?   (N=265)
 a.Male (24.9%)
 b.Female (75.1%)
 
3.What is your ethnic background?   (N=265)
 a.White - Northern European or Eastern European Ancestry(87.2%)
 b.Native American (0.8%)
 c.Other (Please go to question 4) (12.1%)
 
4.If you answered c. to question 3, choose one (or more) of the following that best describes your ethnicity.    (N=54)
 a.African or African-American (5.6%)
 b.Asian or Asian-American (33.3%)
 c.Hispanic/Latino (29.6%)
 d.Multi-racial (16.7%)
 e.Other non-white ethnicity (14.8%)
 
5.If you had another major (other than Open Option), which of the following best describes this major?    (N=136)
 a.Engineering (9.6%)
 b.Business (13.2%)
 c.Fine arts or Humanities (17.6%)
 d.Social Science other than Psychology (i.e. Sociology, Political Science, etc.)(31.6%)
 e.Natural or Physical Sciences(27.9%)
 
6.Which of the following best describes your major area of interest within the field of psychology?    (N=262)
 a.Biological (Behavioral Neuroscience/Genetics) (19.1%)
 b.Clinical/Counseling (36.3%)
 c.Cognitive (6.1%)
 d.Developmental (14.5%)
 e.Social/Personality (24.0%)
 
7.Which of the following best applies?    (N=260)
 a.I have applied to a graduate program and have been accepted. (6.9%)
 b.I have applied to a graduate program and have yet to be accepted. (2.7%)
 c.I plan to apply to a graduate program within the next year. (37.7%)
 d.I plan to apply to a graduate program sometime in the future. (37.7%)
 e.I do not plan to apply to a graduate program. (15.0%)
 
8.If you plan to attend graduate school, which of the following degree programs do you plan to complete?    (N=226)
 a.M.A. in the field of Psychology or closely related field (i.e., M.A. in Social Work/Counseling)(27.0%)
 b.Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Psychology (25.7%)
 c.Other (see question #9) (45.1%)
 
9.If you answered "c. Other" in Question 8, which of the following degree programs (if any) do you plan to complete?    (N=141)
 a.M.A. in a field of psychology other than Clinical (10.6%)
 b.Ph.D. in a field of psychology other than Clinical (29.1%)
 c.Professional Degree in law or business (19.1%)
 d.Professional Degree in medicine (23.4%)
 e.Teaching (17.7%)
 
10.Which of the following best describes your plans after graduation?    (N=260)
 a.I am immediately going to graduate school. (16.2%)
 b.I am looking for employment. (46.9%)
 c.I have already obtained employment in an area related to Psychology.(6.2%)
 d.I have already obtained employment in an area unrelated to Psychology.(13.8%)
 e.Other (16.9%)
 
11.If you have already obtained employment, what is your starting salary?    (N=89)
 a.$15,000 or less (24.7%)
 b.$15,001 - 20,000(22.5%)
 c.$20,001 - 28,000(23.6%)
 d.$28,001 - 40,000(24.7%)
 e.$40,001 or more (4.5%)
 
12.Did you take part in any of the following volunteer activities (mark all that apply)?    (N=138)
 a.Volunteer activities related to Psychology (41.3%)
 b.Volunteer activities related to other professional plans (i.e. for medical or law school)(13.8%)
 c.Volunteer activities related to clubs, honor societies, or fraternities/sororities (12.3%)
 d.Other volunteer activities (32.6%)
 
13.What is your GPA in Psychology?    (N=264)
 a.2.00 - 2.50(5.3%)
 b.2.51 - 3.00(22.7%)
 c.3.01 - 3.50(33.0%)
 d.3.51 - 4.00(39.0%)
 
14.What is your overall GPA?    (N=265)
 a.2.00 - 2.50 (7.2%)
 b.2.51 - 3.00 (32.1%)
 c.3.01 - 3.50 (33.6%)
 d .3.51 - 4.00(27.2%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major: General Comments.

15.In general, how satisfied are you with the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (30.9%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (50.9%)
 c.neutral (12.1%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (4.9%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.1%)
 
16.In general, how satisfied are you with the staff of the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (37.7%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (49.1%)
 c.neutral (6.4%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (4.5%)
 e.very dissatisfied (2.3%)
 
17.In general, how satisfied are you with the advising in the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (31.3%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (23.0%)
 c.neutral (15.5%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (18.9%)
 e.very dissatisfied (11.3%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major: The Curriculum and Advising

18.How well informed were you about the content and scope of the psychology major before you decided to declare psychology as your major?    (N=265)
 a.very well informed (21.9%)
 b.somewhat informed (38.9%)
 c.neutral (18.5%)
 d.somewhat uninformed (18.1%)
 e.very uninformed (2.6%)
 
19.How satisfied are you with the content of the curriculum for a major in Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (22.3%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (54.3%)
 c.neutral (12.5%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (9.1%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.9%)
 
20.How satisfied are you with the written information about major requirements provided by the Dept. of Psychology?   (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (43.8%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (36.6%)
 c.neutral (14.3%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (4.9%)
 e.very dissatisfied (0.4%)
 
21.How satisfied are you with the willingness and knowledge of the staff academic advisors in providing advising about the major requirements for a degree in Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (40.4%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (29.4%)
 c.neutral (12.1%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (12.1%)
 e.very dissatisfied (6.0%)
 
22.How satisfied are you with the willingness and knowledge of faculty in providing advising about career and academic goals?   (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (17.7%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (36.6%)
 c.neutral (27.2%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (13.6%)
 e.very dissatisfied (4.9%)
 
23.How satisfied are you with the willingness and knowledge of the staff academic advisors in providing advising about career and academic goals?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (17.7%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (27.2%)
 c.neutral (26.8%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (18.5%)
 e.very dissatisfied (9.8%)
 
24.Which of the following was most helpful in guiding you through the psychology major?    (N=254)
 a.a faculty member (22.4%)
 b.a psychology staff advisor (39.4%)
 c.a psychology mentor (5.9%)
 d.a graduate student (2.8%)
 e.a friend (another undergraduate psychology major)(29.5%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major Course Offerings.

25.How satisfied were you with the General Psychology course offered at the Univ. of Colorado at Boulder?    (N=264)
 a.I was very satisfied with the General Psychology course. (48.1%)
 b.I was somewhat satisfied with the General Psychology course. (24.2%)
 c.I was somewhat dissatisfied with the General Psychology course. (5.3%)
 d.I was very dissatisfied with the General Psychology course. (2.3%)
 e.I did not take General Psychology on the Boulder campus of the University of Colorado.(20.1%)
 
26.In general, how satisfied were you with the class size in your lower division (1000 & 2000 level) psychology courses?    (N=263)
 a.course enrollments were much too large (37.6%)
 b.course enrollments were just about right (25.5%)
 c.some courses were much too large, but most were just about right(26.6%)
 d.most courses were much too large, but some were just about right(9.9%)
 
27.In general, how satisfied were you with the class size in your upper division (3000 & 4000 level) psychology courses?    (N=265)
 a.course enrollments were much too large (5.3%)
 b.course enrollments were just about right (72.5%)
 c.some courses were much too large, but most were just about right(17.4%)
 d.most courses were much too large, but some were just about right(4.9%)
 
28.In general, how satisfied were you with the level of difficulty of lower division (1000 & 2000 level) psychology courses?    (N=265)
 a.courses were too easy (18.5%)
 b.courses were just about right - challenging, but not draining(76.6%)
 c.courses were too difficult (4.9%)
 
29.In general, how satisfied were you with the level of difficulty of upper division (3000 & 4000 level) psychology courses?    (N=264)
 a.courses were too easy (9.8%)
 b.courses were just about right - challenging, but not draining(79.2%)
 c.courses were too difficult (9.8%)
 
30.In general, the courses I took in the Department of Psychology:    (N=265)
 a.required much less work than courses I took outside the Department of Psychology. (6.8%)
 b.required somewhat less work than courses I took outside the Department of Psychology. (27.9%)
 c.required about the same amount of work as courses I took outside the Department of Psychology. (40.8%)
 d.required somewhat more work than courses I took outside the Department of Psychology. (22.3%)
 e.required much more work than courses I took outside the Department of Psychology. (2.3%)
 
31.In general, how satisfied were you with the availability of courses required for the psychology major within the psychology department?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (22.3%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (40.4%)
 c.neutral (12.8%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (21.9%)
 e.very dissatisfied (2.6%)
 
32.In general, how satisfied were you with the availability of elective courses within the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (15.5%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (35.5%)
 c.neutral (21.1%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (23.0%)
 e.very dissatisfied (4.9%)
 
33.In general, how satisfied were you with the quality of the required textbooks within the Dept. of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (16.2%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (35.1%)
 c.neutral (32.5%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (14.0%)
 e.very dissatisfied (2.3%)
 
34.In general, how satisfied were you with the relevance and fairness of the evaluation procedures used to assign grades within the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (32.8%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (43.8%)
 c.neutral (16.6%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (5.3%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.5%)
 
35.In general, how satisfied were you with the physical settings of psychology classes (comfort of classrooms, acoustics, availability of video monitors, etc.)?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (25.7%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (38.1%)
 c.neutral (19.6%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (14.3%)
 e.very dissatisfied (2.3%)
 
36.In general, how satisfied were you with the equipment available to students taking laboratory classes in the Dept. of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (27.5%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (35.8%)
 c.neutral (26.0%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (9.1%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.5%)
 
37.In general, how satisfied were you with the availability of computer resources necessary for the completion of assignments?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (35.1%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (29.1%)
 c.neutral (26.6%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (17.7%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.5%)
 
38.In general, how satisfied are you that the courses you took in the Department of Psychology have prepared you with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue graduate study?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (13.6%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (45.7%)
 c.neutral (23.8%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (11.3%)
 e.very dissatisfied (5.7%)
 
39.In general, how satisfied are you that the courses you took in the Department of Psychology have prepared you with the skills and knowledge necessary for occupational success?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (12.8%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (41.5%)
 c.neutral (23.8%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (16.2%)
 e.very dissatisfied (5.7%)
 
40.In general, how satisfied are you that the courses you took in the Department of Psychology have prepared you with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a professional degree (e.g. law or medicine)?   (N=264)
 a.very satisfied (12.9%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (33.3%)
 c.neutral (31.4%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (16.7%)
 e.very dissatisfied (5.7%)
 
41.In general, how satisfied were you with the quality of the course offerings within the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (28.7%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (48.7%)
 c.neutral (13.2%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (8.3%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.1%)
 
42.In general, how satisfied are you that your major requirements provided you with a comprehensive understanding of the field of psychology?   (N=264)
 a.very satisfied (28.4%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (56.4%)
 c.neutral (7.2%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (6.4%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.5%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major: Opportunities for Learning Outside the Classroom.

43.Does the Department of Psychology publicize opportunities for volunteer opportunities related to the Psychology major?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (60.0%)
 b.No (23.8%)
 c.Don't know (16.2%)
 
44.Is there adequate opportunity to gain research experience in the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (44.9%)
 b.No (31.3%)
 c.Don't know (23.4%)
 
45.Does the Department of Psychology publicize sources of financial aid for undergraduate research?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (14.0%)
 b.No (40.8%)
 c.Don't know (44.9%)
 
46.Is there adequate opportunity to participate in activities that provide practical experience in areas related to the field of psychology (e.g. independent study; internships; teaching opportunities; peer mentoring)?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (46.4%)
 b.No (29.4%)
 c.Don't know (23.8%)
 
47.Is there adequate classroom discussion of the practical applications of psychology?    (N=264)
 a.Yes (51.9%)
 b.No (41.7%)
 c.Don't know (6.4%)
 
48.Do the Psychology Club and Psi Chi offer sufficient opportunities for learning outside the classroom (e.g. speakers; panel discussions)?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (40.8%)
 b.No (7.9%)
 c.Don't know (50.2%)
 
49.Do the Psychology Club and Psi Chi offer sufficient opportunities for meeting other psychology students with similar interests and career goals?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (35.8%)
 b.No (10.2%)
 c.Don't know (53.2%)
 
50.Do you belong to either the Psychology Club or to Psi Chi?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (25.3%)
 b.No (72.5%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major: Content Areas and Skills. Please indicate how satisfied you are with the level of the emphasis of the following context areas or skills in the current psychology curriculum.

51.Scientific report writing:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (48.3%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (46.4%)
 c.less emphasis needed (5.3%)
 
52.Non-scientific writing skills:    (N=265)
 a.satisfied as is (62.3%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (33.2%)
 c.less emphasis needed (4.5%)
 
53.Critical thinking skills:    (N=265)
 a.satisfied as is (54.7%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (44.5%)
 c.less emphasis needed (0.8%)
 
54.Statistics:   (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (72.2%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (17.7%)
 c.less emphasis needed (10.3%)
 
55.Research design & experimental methodology:    (N=262)
 a.satisfied as is (66.8%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (27.1%)
 c.less emphasis needed (6.1%)
 
56.Biological psychology:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (70.3%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (18.3%)
 c.less emphasis needed (11.4%)
 
57.Clinical or counseling psychology:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (44.1%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (52.5%)
 c.less emphasis needed (3.4%)
 
58.Cognitive psychology:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (75.7%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (16.7%)
 c.less emphasis needed (7.6%)
 
59.Social psychology:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (73.4%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (23.2%)
 c.less emphasis needed (3.4%)
 
60.Developmental Psychology:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (60.5%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (37.6%)
 c.less emphasis needed (1.5%)
 
61.Application of psychological principles to practical and social problems:    (N=263)
 a.satisfied as is (40.3%)
 b.greater emphasis needed (57.0%)
 c.less emphasis needed (2.3%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major: Your Current Skill Level

62.How satisfied are you with your ability to solve practical problems by applying concepts and methods acquired as a Psychology major?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (22.6%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (56.6%)
 c.neutral (11.7%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (7.5%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.5%)
 
63.How satisfied are you with your ability to evaluate research using concepts and methods acquired as a Psychology major?   (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (30.6%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (50.6%)
 c.neutral (10.2%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (7.2%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.5%)
 
64.How satisfied are you with your ability to explain concepts related to the field of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (35.5%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (52.1%)
 c.neutral (6.8%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (4.5%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.1%)
 
65.In general, how satisfied are you with the preparation you received from the Dept. of Psychology for life after college?   (N=264)
 a.very satisfied (22.3%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (42.0%)
 c.neutral (19.7%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (12.9%)
 e.very dissatisfied (3.0%)
 

Evaluation of the Psychology Major: The Faculty

66.In general, how satisfied are you with the expertise & knowledge of the psychology faculty?    (N=264)
 a.very satisfied (55.3%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (34.5%)
 c.neutral (6.4%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (2.7%)
 e.very dissatisfied (1.1%)
 
67.In general, how satisfied are you with the quality of teaching in the Department of Psychology?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (44.9%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (40.0%)
 c.neutral (8.7%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (5.7%)
 e.very dissatisfied (0.8%)
 
68.In general, how satisfied are you with the concern of faculty for individual students?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (24.2%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (37.0%)
 c.neutral (20.4%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (15.1%)
 e.very dissatisfied (3.4%)
 
69.In general, how satisfied are you with the availability of faculty outside the classroom?    (N=265)
 a.very satisfied (32.1%)
 b.somewhat satisfied (40.0%)
 c.neutral (21.1%)
 d.somewhat dissatisfied (6.0%)
 e.very dissatisfied (0.8%)
 
70.How often do you attend faculty office hours?    (N=265)
 a.frequently (14.7%)
 b.occasionally (47.2%)
 c.rarely (37.4%)
 
71.How often do you attend office hours of the Graduate Teaching Assistants?    (N=265)
 a.frequently (6.8%)
 b.occasionally (32.5%)
 c.rarely (34.7%)
 d.never (26.0%)
 
72.Does the Department of Psychology offer as much opportunity as you would like for undergraduates to interact informally with faculty members?    (N=265)
 a.Yes (27.5%)
 b.No (50.2%)
 c.Don't know (21.1%)

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Last revision 02/23/04


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