Marine Science Program

  • PSLO
  • Data Sheet
  • Program Review
  • Assessment Report

Program Student Learning Outcomes Assessment
(AY 2016-2017)

Program Student Learning Outcomes(PSLOS)

At the completion of Marine Science Program the student will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of geological, geomorphological, physical, chemical, and biological oceanography.
  2. Apply fundamental knowledge of marine sciences towards identifying and critically analyzing and outlining potential solutions for local, regional and global problems relating to marine systems.
  3. Apply the scientific process to formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and collect and analyze data from which valid scientific conclusions are drawn.
  4. Communicate effectively, in written and oral forms, utilizing the language and concepts of marine science.
  • I=Introduced
  • D=Demonstrated
  • M=Mastery at a level appropriate for graduation

The above matrix shows the relation between PSLOs, the courses in a program and the expected level of mastery.

PSLO Assessment Report Summary

What we looked at:

The Marine Science Program assessment focused on all four MS_PSLO during the academic year 2016-2017 (Fall 2016 & Spring 2017).

What we found:

MS_PSLO_1: Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of geological, geomorphological, physical, chemical, and biological oceanography.
Fall 2016– Marine Biology (MR120)

  • Students who took and completed the course obtained an overall average of at least 87%, exceeding the targeted score of 70% for both SLOs for cellular structure and functions as well as classifying various marine life forms.

Fall 2016 – Oceanography (MR240)

  • Students who took and completed this course exceeded the targeted score of 70% (at least 74%) on the measured SLOs. We focused more on the SLO 8 (lab report) for it broadly covers geological, geomorphological, physical, chemical and biological oceanography. For this SLO, students exceeded the targeted score of 70%.

MS_PSLO_2: Apply fundamental knowledge of marine sciences towards identifying and critically analyzing and outlining potential solutions for local, regional and global problems relating to marine systems.

Spring 2017 – Fisheries Biology and Management (MR250)

  • Students who took and completed the MR 250 exceeded the targeted score of 70% on the measured SLOs except for SLO 9 (state the major biological parameters used in stock assessment, notably: stock abundance, fishing effort, catch rate, growth, recruitment, mortality, and yield) and SLO 10 (list and describe the needs for fisheries management, compare and contrast the management tools that can be adopted in assuring a sustainable development of the exploited resource) where they scored 58% and 63%. Consequently, more in depth explanations need to be given in class on these two SLOs in order for the students to demonstrate the required level of mastery for an associate degree.

MS_PSLO_3: Apply the scientific process to formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and collect and analyze data from which valid scientific conclusions are drawn.

Fall 2016 & Spring 2017 – Oceanography (MR240)

  • Students who took and completed the MR 240 course in both Fall 2016 and Spring 2017 where writing an extensive report on the water mixing pattern of the Dausokele estuary as a research project is required exceeded the targeted score of 70% on the measured SLO. Consequently, they demonstrated the required level of mastery for an associate degree for the MS_PSLO_3.

MS_PSLO_4: Communicate effectively, in written and oral forms, utilizing the language and concepts of marine science.
Fall 2016 & Spring 2017 – Oceanography (MR240)

  • Students who took and completed the course in both semesters pertaining to writing an extensive report on the water mixing pattern of the Dausokele estuary exceeded the targeted score of 70% on the measured SLO. Consequently, they demonstrated the required level of mastery for an associate degree for the MS_PSLO_4.

Fall 2015 – Ichthyology (MR230)

  • To satisfy this outcome, the Ichthyology class had both midterm and final lab projects that required students to “communicate effectively in written” (midterm project) and “oral forms” (final project). Assuming a grade of “C” or better represents successful completion of the outcome, then the following depicts the results of this as measured by the Ichthyology course. For the midterm lab project, 14 of 15 (93%) students successfully completed this outcome while on the final (oral) project, 15/15 students (100%) satisfied this outcome as measured by the scoring rubrics (see attached) used to assess this outcome.
Fall 2014 – Ichthyology (MR230)
    The outcome measured pertained to a group assignment relative to presenting and oral presentation on a research project in the Ichthyology course. Eleven of twelve students successfully completed this outcome of oral summarization. They exceeded the targeted score of 70%. Consequently they demonstrated the required level of mastery for an associate degree for the MS_PSLO_4.

What we are planning to work on:

  • Discussion of integrating Cellular Biology (Biology I) into the program has not been finalized. More effort is evidently necessary to move the process toward its last stage after the final review of the course outline.
  • We will focus on more ways in developing better "student study skills". As stated in previous summary reports, this is an issue that is found across all programs.
  • Further investigation on improving favorable transfer options for our Marine Science graduates.
  • More articulation on the TracDat program into the long-term objectives of the Marine Science program.
  • Investigating more ways to track the Marine Science graduates after leaving the college.

Recommendations for students:

  • Interact meaningfully with faculty.
  • Spend significant time and effort studying and practicing.
  • Take advantage of the advertised tutoring services.
  • Attend class regularly and arrive on time.
  • Avoid procrastination when comes to assessments. Plan your time and be prepared.
  • Explore the web for educational resources online to improve learning.
  • Continue to work with advisors.
  • Participate in student internships and research opportunities.

AP Full Official:Marine Science Program

Campus: National Campus

Completed by: Lynch et al.

AP Review Submission Date: 

AR Review Cycle:  

    • Program Mission

      The mission of the Marine Science AS degree program is to generate students who demonstrate a fundamental knowledge of the world ocean, who identify the important influence the world ocean has on planet Earth and daily human life, who can evaluate human actions and how these can impact marine and global ecosystems, who can apply the scientific process, and who are prepared to apply learned concepts to serve as effective stewards in Micronesia and/or transfer to a 4-year degree program.

  1. Program Goals

    The student will be able to:

    1. Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of geological, geographical, physical, chemical, astrological, and biological oceanography.
    2. Apply fundamental knowledge of marine sciences towards identifying and solving regional and global problems relating to marine systems.
    3. Apply the scientific process to formulate hypotheses, design experiments, and collect and analyze data from which valid scientific conclusions are drawn.
    4. Communicate effectively, in written and oral forms, utilizing the language and concepts of marine science.
    5. Program History

      In 1986, the Marine Science Program was implemented and the first class graduated in 1989. The program began rather experimentally as a means to train students for pursuit of a higher degree in marine science and to prepare individuals for local positions, and today this remains a program focus. Initially, the program experienced recruitment difficulties and had merely six students enrolled. Today, the program draws more than 50 students. Recruitment efforts over the years have improved, and our program serves as a gateway to many internship and scholarship opportunities for those who excel in the program. Further, in recent years, our students have been highly competitive against Pacific students for scholarship and internship positions across the region.

      Two years ago, program learning outcomes were altered in an effort to make them a more accurate reflection of expectations, and more importantly, to ensure the outcomes were measureable. The prerequisites were changed for MR 201 Aquaculture and MR 210 Marine Ecology to ensure students had more complete background knowledge for success in each of these courses. Further, developed and approved were new course outlines for MR 120 Marine Biology and MR 201 Aquaculture. These outlines were done to ensure all course learning and student learning outcomes were measurable and that we had specific strategies in place for the purpose of assessing student learning outcomes. Our division also designed and had approved ESS 102WS/1 Open Water SCUBA Diver as an official course, with the primary goal of offering this training to our marine science majors, as many positions and research efforts require methods of underwater investigation to be utilized. This course will not be required, but would be highly recommended to our majors in order to also satisfy their exercise sports science 1 credit hour graduation requirement. Finally, we have had to increase the number of sections and class size of MR 120 Marine Biology and MR 240 Oceanography in order to meet both increasing numbers of marine science majors and of other majors who must satisfy their science with lab requirement for graduation.

    6. Program Descriptions

      The Marine Science Program is designed to respond to a need expressed by the FSM leadership in the FSM States and National Economic Summits. It has been designed to take full advantage of the unique variety of marine environments available in the FSM, particularly Pohnpei. This program provides a solid foundation for students interested in pursuing a higher degree at a four-year institution.

      The Marine Science program falls under the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and is headed by a program coordinator who is also one of the marine science instructors. Currently, three full-time faculty are responsible for program-specific course instruction, though each also teaches a few courses outside the marine program each year. The program offers only an Associate of Science Degree in Marine Science. Students of other majors also regularly take some of our marine science courses, in an effort to meet their science with a lab and science without a lab, graduation requirements. Typically, the most heavily utilized marine courses taken by non-majors are MR 120 Marine Biology and MR 240 Oceanography. Additionally, our marine science faculty teach numerous sections of SC 111 Environmental Studies (3 cr.) which serves as science elective for hundreds of students annually.

    7. Program Admission Requirements

      Students who are accepted for admissions to COM-FSM are eligible for the Marine Science Program, though all of our courses require students to demonstrate a proficient reading level either by scoring high enough on their entrance test or by completing additional studies and successfully passing ESL 089

    8. Program Certificate/Degree Requirements

      The Marine Science AS degree has General Education Core Requirements in English (9 credits), Mathematics (3 credits), Natural sciences (7 credits), Social Sciences (3 credits), Computer Applications (3 credits), Exercise Sports Science (1 credit), and Humanities (3 credits) for a total of 29 credits. Additionally, students must complete 36 credits in marine major requirements by completing marine biology (4 credits), aquaculture (4 credits), marine ecology (3 credits), ichthyology (4 credits), oceanography (4 credits), fisher biology and management (3 credits), marine biology field studies (3 credit), chemistry (4 credits), social science (3 credits), and an open elective (3 credits) such that the total degree credits is sixty-five.

    9. Program Courses and Enrollment

      The following are descriptions of the General Education Core courses and the major courses required for the AS in Marine Science:

      EN 110 Advanced Reading: Designed to improve students’ critical reading and thinking skills, increase analytical, inferential and evaluative comprehension, expand vocabulary skills, and employ effective study strategies for use across academic disciplines.

      EN 120a Expository Writing I: Designed to help students develop in expository writing by completing a minimum of five multi-draft essays of varying degrees of complexity. In these essays students develop topics in at least four of these five rhetorical patterns: example, comparison/contrast, classification, process analysis, and cause/ effect analysis. The students also write an argumentative essay that demonstrates familiarization with methods of research documentation.

      EN 120b Expository Writing II: Provides an introduction to college-level research writing skill.. the student will investigate research topics in a variety of disciplines while enhancing their critical thinking and argumentative abilities.

      MS 100 [or above] College Algebra: Identifies components of exponential expressions in polynomials with mathematical operations of exponential expressions; factoring of up to 4th degree polynomials; recognizing rational and irrational numbers with emphasis on the use of number lines, equation and inequality solving with application problems; introduction of literal equations; working with radical expressions; graphing of two variables on the xy plane; solving systems of equations in two or three variables;

      For 7 credits any combination of science w/lab and a science without a lab:

      Science Course with Laboratory:
      Options include:

      AG 101 Introduction to Agriculture
      AG 110 Crop Production w/Lab:
      AG 140 Principles of Animal Science w/Lab
      SC 117 Tropical Pacific Island Environment w/Lab
      SC 120 Biology w/Lab
      SC 122a Anatomy and Physiology I w/Lab
      SC112b Anatomy and Physiology II w/Lab
      SC 130 Physical Science w/Lab
      SC 180 Microbiology w/Lab
      SC 230 Introduction to Chemistry w/Lab
      SC 240 Introduction to Physics w/Lab.
      SC 250 General Botany w/Lab
      SC 255 General Zoology w/Lab

      Non-lab science courses:
      Options include:

      SC 111 Environmental Science
      SC 115 Ethnobotany
      SC 220 Introduction to Geology
      SC 260 Independent Studies in Biology

      SS 150 History of Micronesia: Study of Micronesian History from Pre-history to the present.
      CA 100 Computer Literacy: Introduction to computer concepts and applications

      Exercise Sport Science Course
      Options Include:

         ESS 101 Individual activities
         ESS 101j Joggling
         ESS 101r Resistance Training
         ESS 101t Introduction to Tai Chi/Qi Gong
         ESS 101w Walking for Health and Fitness
         ESS 101y Introduction to Yoga
         ESS 102(x) Group Team Activity
         ESS 102b Fundamentals of Basketball
         ESS 102s Fundamentals of Softball
         ESS 102v Introduction to Volleyball
         ESS 102 Snorkeling
         ESS 102WS/1 Open Water SCUBA Diver

      Humanities Courses
      Options include:

       Ethical Thought and Moral Values:
         EN 208 Philosophy
         EN 209 Introduction to Religion
          FL 101 Japanese I
          FL 102 Japanese II
          ML10 Micronesian Language
          FL/SS 107 Chinese Language and Culture
          AR 101Introduction to Art
          AR 105 Painting     EN 213 Island Style Theater
          MM 110 Introduction to Photography and Video
          MM 120 Film Studies
          MM 205 Media Studies
          MM 240 Computer Animation
          MU 101 Introduction to Music
          SS 195 Micronesian Cultural Study
       Historical Analysis:
          EN 210 Writing on 19th Century Pohnpei
          SS 170 World History I
          SS 171 World History II
          SS 240 East Asian History
         EN 210 Introduction to Literature
         EN 202 Narrative Fiction
         EN 203 Drama
         EN 204 Poetry
         EN 205 Literature of the Sea
         EN 206 Mythology

      MS 150 Statistics

      MR 120 Marine Biology w/lab: The course introduces students to the common forms of life inhabiting the oceans of the globe including the marine microbes, plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates. Their basic structure, function, natural history and adaptations to the marine environment will be covered. Current issues in marine biology will also be discussed. Laboratory sessions and field exercises will focus mostly on the taxonomic groups.

      MR 201 Aquaculture w/lab: An investigation of the principles underlying the culture of both marine and freshwater organisms. Pertinent aspects of the physiology of aquatic species will be covered as well as system design, water quality, nutrition, reproduction, and disease. An analysis of the constraints of the development of aquaculture will be made.

      MR 210 Marine Ecology w/lab: Focuses on principles of ecology, ecological terminology, and the ecology of marine ecosystems. Important physical, chemical, and biological interactions controlling coral reef, mangrove, seagrass, estuarine, pelagic, benthic and upwelling communities are discussed.

      MR 230 Ichthyology w/lab: Focuses on the general aspects of fish biology including tropical, temperate, freshwater and marine fishes. Topics include classification, biology, and physiology of fish. The laboratory includes internal and external examinations, identification, and field observation techniques.

      MR 240 Oceanography w/lab: The course will include sections on oceanographic history, geology, chemistry, physics, biology, technology, and careers. The use of terminology will be emphasized. Laboratory and field exercises will include demonstration of basic concepts; use of instrumentation; and the collection and presentation of oceanographic data.

      MR 250 Fishery Biology and Management: The biological aspects of fisher science that are used in management are examined. Population dynamics, modeling, fishing techniques, economics, reproduction, production, ecology, geography, oceanography and important environmental factors are discussed. Individual fisheries are used as examples of important concepts.

      MR 254 Marine Biology Field Studies: Reinforces an understanding of marine biology, the marine environment and marine organisms through exposure to learning experiences in the field and laboratory investigations.

      Previously, there were more marine courses running in the spring semester compared to the fall semester. In the past, this was not an issue, as the total number of marine science majors was lower; however, due to the increasing enrollment for the Marine Science Program, we scheduled MR 240 Oceanography to be offered for both the fall and the spring semesters next year to help ensure we better meet student needs. Further consideration for the spring semester schedule will have to occur, as we realize that many of the students end up taking 3 – 4 science courses together in their second semester; consequently, we may be putting them at higher risk of failing or scoring low in one or more of those courses, as the study time required for success would be extremely high.
      In general, enrollment within the marine science classes is pretty high. In courses such as MR 120 (Marine Biology) and MR 240 (Oceanography), the roster fills quickly and no seats are available at the start of each semester. This number varies depending on whether 1 or 2 labs are offered, but there are always 20-30 students per lecture. For the more advanced Marine Science classes (those requiring a marine prerequisite), the number of students typically tops out around 18 students, almost exclusively Marine Science with a few Education majors that need an additional science class and have met the required prerequisite. The only exceptions to this include the MR 254 Field Study class and SC 260 (Independent Study in Biol.) as these are more hands on and field oriented requiring a more intimate level of contact between students and the instructor.

      Much of the success of the program in recent years (in regards to recruitment, graduation, and transfer of our students) must be attributed to several grants and an increased collaborative relationship with University of Hawaii. These consortium grants have allowed us more control over our program by providing additional sources of funding above/beyond what could ordinarily happen to support a program from a division budget that must support a number of different classes across many disciplines and many majors. Our regular division budget does not allow for luxury purchases such as student stipends for internships and research projects, money for student and or faculty travel to conferences or workshops, expensive equipment, and covering the costs associated with certifying students for SCUBA. With the financial support offered by these grants, we have been able to recruit better, offer our students bigger/better learning opportunities while they are enrolled in COM-FSM, and also assist in their finding transfer options post-graduation. In short, these grants and the established contacts we now have at UH have given us a legitimacy that was previously lacking, helping to cover some of the holes that exist as a small college isolated on a remote Pacific island. Moreover, this relationship and the grant programs shared with UH have provided meaningful and tangible bridge opportunities for many of our top graduates as they transition to 4-year institutions in or out of the UH system.

    10. Program Faculty

      Currently, three full-time faculty teach for the marine science program and also teach other courses for the Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. Each instructor has varied backgrounds and experiences within the marine sciences, and each is utilized to teach courses most reflective of those backgrounds. Additionally, the faculty serve as advisors to marine science majors and participate in both college and community services.

      Professor Allain Bourgoin; PhD Marine Ecology, MS Marine Ecology, BS Biological Sciences
      Professor Brian Lynch; MS Biology, BS Animal Science, AS Fisheries and Wildlife
      Instructor Peltin Olter-Pelep; MS Environmental Conservation, BA Biology, AS Liberal Arts w/3rd yr. certificate in Teacher Preparation

    11. Program Indicators

      1. Assessment of course student learning outcomes of program courses

      2. Assessment of program student learning outcomes

      3. Program enrollment (historical enrollment patterns, student credits by major)

      Our enrollment for the past several years has been somewhat consistent and remains at a level we believe is effective for our program. Program enrollment around 50 students appears to a comfortable level for our program, significantly higher than about 10 years ago, but not so high as to be difficult to handle scheduling difficulties now are we flooding the job market with graduates that cannot find work in their field.

      Though IRPO has provided figures relating to student credits by major, we are unable to interpret the significance of this data without comparison to other program. We assume our students are comparable to those of other majors until we are told otherwise.

      Major Degree Term Chuuk Kosrae National Pohnpei Yap Students
      Mar. Sci AS Fall 2011   7 41 6 2 56
      Mar. Sci AS Fall 2012   15 46 9 1 71
      Mar. Sci AS Fall 2013   3 41 5 3 52
      Mar. Sci AS Spring 2011   5 45 2   52
      Mar. Sci AS Spring 2012   11 35 5 1 52
      Mar. Sci AS Spring 2013   2 38 4 2 46

      4. Average class size


      5. Course completion rate

      Our course completion rates have been fairly dynamic and vary considerably by course. Marine Biology MR 120 is a gateway course to the other marine science classes and frequently weeds out students that are not ready to complete a rigorous biological science degree program.

      Fall 2013 Course Completion by Subject & Course
      Subject Link Student-Course %ABCorP %ABCDorP %W
      Marine Science MR120 32 28.1% 56.3% 40.6%
      Marine Science MR230 13 69.2% 84.6% 7.7%
      Marine Science MR240 15 40.0% 53.3% 33.3%
      Marine Science MR254 5 80.0% 80.0% 0.0%

      6. Student persistence rate (semester to semester)

      There appears to be a drastic difference between the persistence rates between the two years included in the table below. We are not sure what accounts for the significant drop in persistence between academic years 11-12 and 12-13. Obtaining this information may be critical to understanding what factors influence success in our program.

      Major Degree New Students FT 2011-3 Students 2012_1 Students 2012_3 Persistence Spring 2012
      Marine Science AS 10 8 7 80.0%

      Major Degree New FT Fall 2012 Persisted Spring 2013 Retained Fall 2013 Persistence Spring 2013
      Marine Science AS 15 7 6 46.7%

      7. Student retention rate (Fall-to-Fall for two-year programs; Fall-to-Spring for one-year programs)

      Again, same as above. This significant decrease in retention is puzzling and may provide key insight into factors leading to success/failure in our program.

      Persistence and Retention (new full time students)
      Major Degree New Students FT 2011-3 Students 2012_1 Students 2012_3 Retention Fall 2012
      Marine Science AS 10 8 7 70.0%

      Major Degree New FT Fall 2012 Persisted Spring 2013 Retained Fall 2013 Retention Fall 2013
      Marine Science AS 15 7 6 40.0%

      8. Success rates on licensing or certification exams (CTE, TP, Nursing, etc)

      A large percentage of our graduates become certified for PADI Open Water Diving. Though not required, many of our marine science majors elect to enroll in the SCUBA PE elective.

      9. Graduation rate based on yearly number

      Overall, we are pleased that we have increased our number of graduates from a decade ago but also realize we need to maintain steady enrollment in our program to ensure we maintain an acceptable number of graduates. We would like to see approximately 5 graduates per graduation (10/yr) but understand there are some minor fluctuations for various reasons from year to year.

      Graduates by Major and Degree AY2008/09 to AY2011/12 Sorted
      Major degree AY2008/09 AY2009/10 AY2010/11 AY2011/12 Total4Year
      Marine Science AS 1 9 11 12 33

      10. Students seat cost


      11.Cost of duplicate or redundant courses, programs or services


      12. Students’ satisfaction rate


      13. Alumni data

      Still awaiting data requested of IRPO.

      14. Employment data and employer feedback (employer survey)

      Still awaiting data requested of IRPO.

      15. Program added or cancelled at nearby regional institutions (PCC, GCC, Hawaii schools, UOG, CMI, NMC)

      No info available

      16. Transfer rate


    12. Analysis


      This section provides discussion of information discovered as a result of the evaluation such as problems or concerns with the program and what part of the program is working well and meeting expectation.

      It seems too soon to report on this. The switch to TracDat appears to be a valuable move that will eventually allow us to better follow our student’s strengths, needs and areas of concern. Until we complete a full cycle using TracDat, however, it is difficult to assess as we are still in a learning phase and are not quite in a position to utilize the information that is being generated. When this learning curve is complete, we expect this will provide us with a number of tools to monitor the progress of our program, but unfortunately, we are quite there yet.


      This section provides recommendations from the program on what to do to improve or enhance the quality of program and course learning outcomes as well as program goals and objectives. This section should also include suggestions that describe how the program might be able to create opportunities for a better program in the future. Some examples are exploring alternate delivery mechanisms, forming external partnerships, or realigning with other programs.

      • Revise the Marine Science curriculum in order to include a course in Cellular Biology (Biology I). This course will be a prerequisite to all students majoring in the Marine Science program. The basic science concepts covered in this course will help prepare the students to undertake the core sciences in this major.
      • Investigate on the possibility of adding a "study skill" seminar that would be mandatory to all students registering at the College of Micronesia. This could be a good avenue in helping prepare students to undertake college level courses. Examples of elements included in the seminar could be: planning your time; preparing strategies for exams; learn strategies on how to use the assigned textbook and its associated ancillaries; taking notes in class and revising them on a regular basis; share with classmates learned material...
      • As described in the HCOP program: "Investigate the possibility of adding a science section to the COMET This will perhaps ensure that students deciding to take a "science major" are better prepared and/or can be placed better into appropriate programs/courses."
      • Investigating a more favorable transfer relationship for Marine Science graduates with UoG (Ross Miller and Frank Camacho).
      • Explore options to fund a Marine Science STEM laboratory/classroom building.
      • Brining new science faculty up to speed on our students, program, and our classes.
      • Becoming more effective with the TracDat program to better follow trends with our students and our program.


Unit Assessment Report

Report Period: 2013-2014

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