Institutional Assessment

UAB uses a variety of assessment activities and instruments to collect data on student, faculty, and staff experiences and satisfaction with its programs and services.  Results of assessment activities are used to strengthen and improve educational programs, academic support services, and student life activities, and to enhance students’ likelihood of academic success.


Educational Testing Service Proficiency Profile

Formerly identified as the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress (MAPP), Educational Testing Service (ETS) Proficiency Profile measures proficiency in critical thinking, reading, writing and mathematics in the context of humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It assesses academic skills developed, versus subject knowledge taught, in general education courses.

At UAB, the Proficiency Profile is administered to freshmen and seniors annually. Use of the instrument began in 2004 when it was administered to randomly selected groups of students. A longitudinal study was begun in 2007 so that data can be collected on the same students to identify improvements made over the course of their UAB educational experience. Results of the Proficiency Profile will be available on UAB’s College Portrait when requirements for the number of students completing the assessment are met (collegeportraits.org). More information on the Proficiency Profile is available at ets.org/proficiencyprofile.

2007-2009 Proficiency Profile

Results of the Proficiency Profile over the administrations since 2007 indicate statistically significant differences between freshmen and seniors. These differences indicate that students’ proficiency in critical thinking, reading, writing, and mathematics improve between beginning their education at UAB and completing it.

  • Scaled scores in all areas exceed those of peer institutions.
  • The percentages of students who are scored as proficient also exceed those of peer institutions.

Source: Institutional Effectiveness Research and Analysis, April 2010

Faculty Survey of Student Engagement

The Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE) is designed to complement NSSE by measuring faculty members’ expectations of student engagement in educational practices that are empirically linked with high levels of learning and development. In addition to measuring faculty members’ expectations of student engagement in educational practices complementary to information gathered by NSSE, FSSE also collects information about how faculty members spend their time on professorial activities, such as teaching and scholarship, and the kinds of learning experiences their institutions emphasize. UAB participates in FSSE concurrently with NSSE—on a three-year cycle. More information about FSSE is available at fsse.iub.edu

2009 FSSE

FSSE was administered in Spring 2009 as a complement to the administration of NSSE. Of the 662 faculty members invited to participate in the electronic survey, 58% responded. Of those responding, 95% were full-time faculty. The information provided through the examination of FSSE and NSSE results is intended to be a catalyst for productive discussions related to teaching, learning, and the quality of students’ educational experiences.
Source: Institutional Effectiveness Research and Analysis, April 2010

Graduating Student Survey

Near the end of each term, students who are expected to graduate are invited to participate in the Graduate Student Survey (GSS), an electronic survey that asks for their opinions on their personal growth while at UAB, their educational experience, student life, and out-of-class experiences in addition to their plans after graduation.

2010-2011 Graduating Student Survey

During the Fall 2010, Spring 2011, and Summer 2011 terms, the combined response rate was 41%. Some highlights of the 2010-2011 Graduating Student Survey include the following:

  • When asked about experiences within the academic major, 84% found the professional expertise of faculty to be excellent or very good.
  • In terms of experiential learning activities, the largest groups of respondents had participated in an internship (57%), clinical experiences (46%), or service learning linked to an academic course (45%).
  • Academic and support services receiving strong ratings (excellent or very good) included academic advising related to the major, BlazerNet (the campus intranet), Mervyn H. Sterne Library, Registration and Academic Records, and the Campus Recreation Center.
  • 59% of graduates expect to go to full-time employment after graduation while 31% expect to continue their education.

Source: Institutional Effectiveness Research and Analysis, March 2012

National Survey of Student Engagement

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) collects information from first-year and senior students about the nature and quality of their undergraduate experience. It measures the extent to which students engage in effective educational practices that are empirically linked with learning, personal development, and other desired outcomes such as student satisfaction, persistence, and graduation. UAB participates in NSSE every two years. More information about NSSE is available at nsse.iub.edu

2014 NSSE

NSSE was administered electronically in Spring 2014 to freshmen and seniors. Of respondents, 480 were first-year students, while 550 were seniors, constituting a 19% response rate for each class standing level.

  • UAB students report more frequent diverse interactions with people of different racial/ethnic and economic backgrounds than all of their NSSE comparison group peers.
  • Sixty-three percent of UAB first-year students and 57% of seniors report that the institution either “very much” or “quite a bit” encourages contact among students from different backgrounds.
  • UAB first-year students consistently report taking more courses with a service-learning component, compared to their peers at other institutions. Sixty-two percent of UAB first-year students report taking at least some courses involving service-learning.
  • Eighty percent of UAB first-year students and 84% of UAB seniors report better than average quality interactions with other students.
  • Sixty percent and 63%, respectively, of UAB first-year students and seniors report high levels of academic challenge.
  • Seven percent of UAB Seniors have completed or are currently participating in study abroad, while 45% of UAB Seniors have completed or are currently participating in an internship, co-op, field experience, student teaching, or clinical placement.
  • Eighty-four percent of first-years and 80% of seniors responded they “probably” or “definitely would” attend UAB again.
  • UAB students reported they spend more time working and caring for dependents than their NSSE comparison peer groups.


Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory

The Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) provides information for use in improving student learning and life by identifying how satisfied students are as well as what issues are important to them. It covers a wide range of institutional activities and services, from academics to student services to extracurricular activities. UAB has participated in 2000, 2004, and 2008. The SSI will be administered on a three-year cycle. More information about SSI is available at ruffalonl.com

2008 Student Satisfaction Inventory

  • UAB invited all undergraduate students to participate in the electronic survey in Spring 2008, and 20% of them (1,964) responded. Some highlights of the 2008 administration of SSI include the following:
  • UAB students gave a higher rating to academic advising than did students at all participating public senior institutions or at institutions in comparison groups.
  • Items related to “concern for the individual" received higher satisfaction scores at UAB than at comparison institutions and participating public senior institutions.
  • Instructional Effectiveness was rated higher at UAB than at comparison institutions and participating public senior institutions.
  • UAB campus support services received more positive satisfaction responses than at other similar institutions.

Source: Institutional Effectiveness Research and Analysis, April 2010


Additional Assessment Tools

Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement

The Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) is a companion survey to NSSE. It collects data about entering college students’ high school academic and co-curricular experiences as well as their expectations for participating in educationally purposeful activities during the first college year. Students participating in UAB orientation in Summer 2008 participated in BCSSE.

UAB Advising Survey

The advising survey was developed by academic advisors at UAB to assess their effectiveness and to identify issues needing attention. It is administered electronically on an annual basis, and all students are invited to participate.


Learning Outcomes

Biology, B.S.

Outcome

Fundamental Knowledge in Biology. Graduating Biology majors will be able to demonstrate knowledge of the fundamental concepts in the fields of genetics, ecology/evolution/population biology, physiology/development, cell/molecular biology, as well as an understanding of the major classifications of life forms.

Measure

Acceptance into Graduate or Professional School. One measure of success of an undergraduate program is the program’s ability to provide students with an exceptional educational experience that would allow them to apply and be accepted into graduate or professional schools. Data on the number of undergraduate students over the last three years that have applied and been accepted into graduate or professional school will be collected by the academic advisors through the use of a required exit survey and optional follow-up survey administered at one and three years after graduation.

Target

50% of graduating students who apply will be accepted into graduate or professional schools within three years of graduating with a B.S. in Biology.

Finding

59% of students graduating in the last three years who have applied to graduate or professional schools have been accepted. (2011-2012)

Chemistry, Ph.D.

Outcome

Students graduating with a Ph.D. in Chemistry will be able to plan and successfully conduct original research at a professional level that publishable scientific contributions to the field.

Measure

Annual Review o Graduate Students. The student's progress toward degree is reviewed annually throuh the submission of a research progress report at three different levels: the graduate research committee (including faculty mentor), the chemistry Graduate Education Committee, the chemistry Graduate Program Director. At each review level, the student's research productivity (i.e. scientific publications throughout the year, presentations at regional , national, and international scientific meetings, and progress toward degree) is critically reviewed and the results of the reviews are conveyed to the student in the form of a written memorandum. Annual reports and updates are maintained in the Ph.D. student's files in the Department of Chemistry office.

Target

100% of all graduate students in the Department of Chemistry will be reviewed on an annual basis by the Department of Chemistry Graduate Education Committee as well as a one-one-one meeting and review by the Department of Chemistry Director of Graduate Studies.

Finding

In the 2011-2012 academic year, all graduate students received an annual written review and met with the Department of Chemistry Graduate Program Director for an overall assessment of progress to degree. For this review, graduate students are required to submit a Graduate Student Information Form (GSIF) detailing the academic, research activities, and progress to degree over the past academic year. This report is reviewed by the Department of Chemistry Graduate Education Committee (GEC) and the Graduate Program Director. In April, the GEC meets with the Graduate PRogram Director to discuss each of the students. The Graduate Program Director then meets with each of the students in a one-on-one setting to discuss progress over the past year, set goals for the upcoming year, and progress to the degree. The graduate student and their research mentor then receive a letter, outlining the results of the review and specifies goals for the upcoming year. The GEC has revised the Department of Chemistry Graduate Student Handbook and set specific timelines toward progress to degree and admission to candidacy. Since implemented, time to degree (Ph.D.) continues to drop and the success of our students has increased. (2011-2012)

Criminal Justice, B.S.

Outcome

Professional Ethics/Critical Thinking. Students will identify and understand the major ethical foundations for the criminal justice system, its agencies, and personnel including the major tenets of such systems as Utilitarian, Ethical Formalism, Ethics of Care, and Religious Ethics.

Measure

Major Field Test: Professional Ethics and Critical Thinking. A student graduating with the B.S. in Criminal Justics will be able to identify and understand the major ethical foundations of the criminal justics system, its agencies, and personnel including the major tenets of such systems of ethics as Utilitarian, Ethical Formalism, Ethics of Care, and Religious Ethics as measured by correct answers on questions relating to professional ethics found on the ETS Major Field Test for Criminal Justice

Target

Student will correctly andwer 60% of the MFT questions relating to ethics.

Finding

Students (n=73) taking the MFT scored an average of 64% correct on questions relating to ethics/critical thinking. (2011-2013)

Action Plan

During 2011-2012, faculty members did a better job of integrating ethics/critical thinking into core required courses via exercises, discussion groups, etc. Given that the goal of 60% correct answers for this subarea of the MFT has been met, the goal will now be changed to 70% correct answers (on average) beginning in 2012-2013.

Dentistry, D.M.D.

Outcome

Recall and apply basic dental science knowledge. Students graduating with a degree in dentistry will be able to apply basic science knowledge to the clinical practice of dentistry as measured by competency-based examiniations administered at the School of Dentistry and by the results of the National Board Dental Examiniation.

Measure

National Board Dental Examiniations. The American Dental Association provides testing and ultimately the results of student performance on a nationally certified credentialing examination. The National Board Dental Examinations (NBDE) are developed and administered by the American Dental Association's Joint Commission on National Dental Examinations to all dental students typically during the second year and during the fourth year of their dental curriculim. All students must pass both parts in order to receive their DMD degree from the UAB School of Dentistry.

Additionally, all state and regional credentialing examinations require passing grades on the NBDE in order for candidates to be issued a license to practice dentistry.

Target

The School of Dentistry achievement target is to score above the national average and have fewer failured as a percentage of students taking the examination than the national average on Part 1 of the National Dental Board Examination.

Finding

The national average standard score for Part 1 of the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) taken between February 1, 2011 and December 31, 2011 was 82.1. The UAB School of Dentistry student standard score for this time frame was 84.5. The national failure rate 5.4% (47/4767 candidates failed) and the UAB School of Dentistry failure rate was 2.1% (1/47 failed). (2011-2012)

Materials Engineering, B.S.Mt.E.

Outcome

Ability to Communicate. B.S.Mt.E. graduates will be able to communicate clearly and effectively through technical writing and oral presentations. This statement is the ninth of the Materials Engineering Program Outcomes and embodies the ABET EAC Criterion 3(g).

Measure

Communication Workproduct. Workproduct for "Ability to Communicate" undergoes Direct Assessment biennially in academic years starting with an odd number, e.g. 2007-2008.

Target

The Achievement Target for Direct Assessment is for 80% of students to attain a rubric score of 3 ("meets minimum standard") or higher on a given workproduct. All students are expected to attain as cores of 3 or better on 2 or three workproducts for a given Outcome by graduation.

Finding

Panels of MSE faculty examined term papers from MSE 413 – Composite Materials and Rolling and Recrystallization Laboratory Reports from MSE 310 – Materials Engineering Laboratory II. The reports and papers were generally of high quality, with 96.5% of the rubric data “3” (Goal) or above. 53.7% attained rubric level "5," and 34.2% attained level "4." No systemic issues were observed. The summary report is attached. Panels of MSE faculty attended and evaluated MSE 465 – Characterization of Materials, Characterization of an Unknown Presentations and MSE 499 – Capstone Design Project II, Final Presentations. The presentations were gene rally of high quality, with 100% of the rubric data “3” (Goal) or above. 42.3% attained rubric level "5," and 41.7% attained level "4." No systemic issues were observ ed. (2011-2012)

Theatre, B.A.

Outcome

Competency in technical theatre skills. A student graduating with a BA in Theatre should be able to demonstrate competency in the technical skills required for one or more of the creative processes involved in the production of plays as outlined in the document "Learning Outcomes for the Department of Theatre." Examples include vocal technique and movement ability for performers, costume or scenery construction methods for technicians, equipment operation for crew members running performances, management skills for stage managers, and artistic communication methods required for designers to communicate aesthetic choices.

Measure

Rubric-based Evaluation of Student. Evaluation of the student in rehearsal, production and performance process by one or more faculty members (per production). All theatre majors are required to have a minimum of three production experiences over their academic career. Because of the variety of processes involved, specific evaluation forms are used for performance and design/production. Students are rated on a 4 point scale: 0=unacceptable, 1=poor, 2=average, 3=good, 4=excellent.

Target

Over the course of the academic career, graduating students will, on average, have achieved a competency rating in applied theatrical techniques of at least 3 on a 4 point scale in one or more creative processes.

Finding

Data was gathered for 100% of graduating seniors. The avera ge competency rate in applied analysis for students graduating with a BA in Theatre was 3.0 on a 4 point scale. Students in the group participated in an average of 5 productions over the course of their academic career and received an average of 10.8 assessments over the same time period. Measurement is based on data collected over a four year period beginning in Fall 2008. (2011-2012)