The Graduate School at Oregon State University supports three processes for assessment and review of graduate programs: external graduate program reviews, internal assessment carried out by individual graduate programs on a continuing basis, and institutional strategic planning.
The Graduate School has responsibility for the quality of graduate programs at Oregon State University. Following a standard format, reviews of graduate programs are conducted through the Graduate Council. Graduate Council Program Reviews are conducted on a 10-year cycle or more frequently as appropriate. Please see the Guidelines for Review of Graduate Programs (updated September 2015) for an outline of this standard review format.
Outcomes Assessment of Graduate Programs
In addition to these detailed external reviews, each graduate program assesses its students' progress and gathers additional information that allows it to improve its policies and procedures. These assessments are designed to determine whether students are achieving graduate program learning objectives and whether strategies used to assist students in reaching their learning outcomes should be modified.
Overarching Graduate Learning Outcomes for doctoral and masters programs were proposed by the Graduate Council and approved by the Faculty Senate on Jan 13, 2011 (doctoral) and April 14, 2011 (masters). The graduate outcomes, as approved by Faculty Senate, are:
Learning outcomes for PhD Degree programs state that the student shall:
(a) produce and defend an original significant contribution to knowledge;
(b) demonstrate mastery of subject material; and
(c) be able to conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner.
These outcomes are to be assessed at the program level. Outcome (a) is already part of the assessment performed at the final oral exam and the GCR is specifically required to raise this metric. Outcome (b) is part of every unit's requirements for students and is assessed by course work grades and preliminary examinations. Outcome (c) is new and will require the units to be sure the students are informed/trained as to what is required to conduct scholarly activities in an ethical manner. There is an array of methods the units could choose to use, such as the Graduate School course on Responsible Conduct of Research, along with other courses, instruction in research groups, etc.
Additional outcomes, the assessment of all outcomes and the specification of learning objectives related to these outcomes are to be carried out at the program level and reviewed periodically.
Learning outcomes for Master's Degree programs state that the student shall:
(a) Conduct research or produce some other form of creative work, and
(b) Demonstrate mastery of subject material, and
(c) Be able to conduct scholarly or professional activities in an ethical manner.
The assessment of these outcomes and the specification of learning objectives related to these outcomes are to be carried out at the program level.
The assessment of program-level learning outcomes is to be formative, providing guidance for students as they work toward achieving required outcomes, and summative, determining satisfactory progress toward degree completion. Students are to be informed of the additional outcomes and the strategies used to assess progress toward achieving the outcomes. The current Graduate assessment plans, submitted to the Director of Assessment, were implemented beginning in January 2012.
All advanced-degree students (including regularly, conditionally, and provisionally admitted) are expected to make satisfactory progress toward a specific academic degree. This includes
- maintaining a GPA of 3.00 or better for all courses taken as a graduate student and for courses included in the graduate program,
- participating in a creative activity such as a thesis. Additional details on satisfactory progress as defined by the Graduate School are found in the Graduate Catalog section on dismissal and
- meeting departmental or program requirements.
Many programs have program-specific guidelines for satisfactory progress. The following process is recommended for programs to use in the development of program-specific satisfactory progress guidelines:
- The program develops satisfactory progress guidelines.
- The program notifies students of the guidelines in a booklet or on a program web site.
- The program evaluates the progress of students regularly (at least annually, preferably more often).
- The program informs students who are deficient in meeting satisfactory progress guidelines of their deficiencies and explains steps needed to comply with the guidelines.
- If deficiencies persist, the program notifies the student in writing (letter, memo or email) that the student is being recommended to the Graduate School for dismissal.
- The Graduate School sets a registration hold on the student.
- The student may appeal to the program for reconsideration or may apply for admission to a different degree program. If the appeal is successful or if the student is accepted into a different program, the registration hold is removed.
Institutional Strategic Planning
In 2011, Oregon State University was reviewed by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The 2011 OSU self evaluation included materials on graduate learning prepared with major assistance of the Graduate Council and the Graduate School. Following the finding that Oregon State University was being reaccredited, steps were taken in response to recommendations in the accreditation report. Overarching graduate learning objectives were identified and the continuing assessment process described above was initiated. To enable programs to conduct assessment most efficiently, the Graduate School and the Office of Institutional Research are collaborating in efforts to assist graduate programs in the collection and analysis of data. The Graduate Council is currently discussing the overlapping needs for data to be used in support of university strategic planning, graduate program reviews, and continuing program assessment.