SC 130 Physical Science assessment spring 2011 psb1

The following document is based on the deployed outline. By using the outline as the basis for reporting assessment of learning, the document seeks to close the design-deploy-assess loop in a single document.

Course Description: A one semester natural science with laboratory course exploring motion, dynamics, heat, earth sciences, weather, climate, sound, optics, light, electricity, chemistry, and astronomy, with a focus on mathematical models and an emphasis on written communication skills.

  1. Program Learning Outcomes (PLO):
    1. 1.1 Write a clear, well-organized paper using documentation and quantitative tools when appropriate.
    2. 3.2 Present and interpret numeric information in graphic forms.
    3. 3.4 Define and explain the concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science.
    4. 3.5 Perform experiments that gather scientific information and to utilize, interpret, and explain the results of experiments and field work in a field of science
  2. Course Learning Outcomes (CLO):
    1. Demonstrate core scientific skills
    2. Perform experiments in mechanics
    3. Perform experiments in material and earth sciences
    4. Perform experiments in wave based phenomena

  3. CLOPLO 1.1PLO 3.2PLO 3.4PLO 3.5
    1DI, DI

  4. Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):
    CLO1 Demonstrate core scientific skills
    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategies Assessment
    1.1 Explore physical science systems using scientific methodologies Laboratory reports Of 34 students, 30 completed six or more of the laboratory reports. A separate report documents the improvement in writing.a
    1.2 Generate mathematical models for physical science systems
    1.3 Write up the results of experiments in a formal format using spreadsheet and word processing software

    CLO2 Perform experiments in mechanics
    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategies Assmtb
    2.1 Determine the relationship between time and space for an object undergoing linear motion Quizzes and/or tests, laboratory reports 28
    2.2 Determine the relationship between time and space for an object undergoing accelerated motion 22
    2.3 Measure momentum and determine whether momentum is conserved in a collision 16
    2.4 Calculate forces, determine whether a material is linear elastic 22

    CLO3 Perform experiments in material and earth sciences
    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategiesAssmt
    3.1 Determine the heat conductivity of different materials Quizzes and/or tests, laboratory reports 26
    3.2 Determine the electrical conductivity of different materials NA
    3.3 Calculate the relationship between minutes of latitude and meters 16
    3.4 Identify different types of precipitation and clouds 26
    3.5 Identify whether solutions are acidic or basic 21

    CLO4 Perform experiments in wave based phenomena
    Student learning outcomesAssessment strategiesAssmt
    4.1 Determine wavelength, frequency, period, amplitude for waves and measure the speed of sound Quizzes and/or tests, laboratory reports 15
    4.2 Determine the relationships for optical depth behind a mirror and below the surface of water 18
    4.3 Identify continuous and discrete spectra, list the orders of colors in spectra, and explore the combinations of primary colors of light used to produce secondary and other colors of light. 29
    4.4 Determine the relationship between current and voltage for an electrical circuit 27

Photographic Documentation of Laboratories

Alignment of final examination to curriculum

Assessment done spring 2010 suggested that the final examination was aligned to the curriculum. Summer 2010 the final examination was redesigned. Further work on the final examination and an assessment in fall 2010 showed that the final examination, course performance, and laboratory performance were aligned. The spring 2011 final examination was structured to maintain that alignment.c

Interpreting graphs and building mathematical models

In support of general education program learning outcome 3.2 and course student learning outcome 1.2, students who have completed SC 130 physical science can read and interpret graphical information, comprehend the mathematical models implied by data and charts, and they can plot data generating their own graphs. A report on this is available.

Writing improvement in physical science

A major structural change in the curriculum this term was halving the number of formally written up laboratory reports. As the laboratory reports support general education program student learning outcomes 1.1 and 3.5, along with student learning outcome 1.3. A study was done the result of which is that physical science can remain a course that improves writing skills at half the number of laboratory reports as prior terms. A report on this is available.

Liked and Disliked Laboratories

Laboratories are at the core of the SC 130 Physical Science. While in-class tests and quizzes provide information on academic achievement, how the students react affectively to these laboratories is also important in the course design. A report on this is available.

Long term trends in the success rate of the students based on an item analysis of the final examination are without meaning due to the redesign and restructuring of the final examination in summer 2010. Subsequent final examinations have retained the redesign.

For purposes of retaining the data going forward, the following success rates per outcome are reported below. The value is the average percent of the students correctly answering final examination questions for that student learning outcome. Sp is spring, su is summer, and fa is fall term. Following the year the number of students who completed the final examination (n).

Overall the success rate improved for all student learning outcomes. Spring 2011 students have the advantage of having the redesigned final examinations for summer 2010 and fall 2010 available for studying.

SLO Sp 08 (29) Fa 08 (28) Sp 09 (31) Fa 09 (32) Sp 10 (29) Su 10 (28) Fa 10 (31) Sp 11 (34)
2.1 0.62 0.89 0.61 0.56 0.93 0.93 0.50 0.82
2.2 0.62 0.39 0.45 0.03 0.14 0.54 0.46 0.65
2.3 0.59 0.57 0.48 0.31 0.62 0.89 0.03 0.47
2.4 0.86 0.69 0.38 0.64
3.1 0.90 0.86 0.81 0.91 0.90 0.46 0.40 0.75
3.3 0.17 0.36 0.23 0.75 0.83 0.50 0.18 0.47
3.4 0.48 0.79 0.61 0.22 0.48 0.63 0.35 0.76
3.5 0.52 0.86 0.61 0.72 0.66 0.93 0.45 0.62
4.1 0.21 0.14 0.48 0.22 0.45 0.55 0.13 0.43
4.2 0.34 0.36 0.29 0.61 0.28 0.95 0.13 0.53
4.3 0.72 0.36 0.65 0.53 0.80 0.89 0.03 0.85
4.4 0.72 0.64 0.71 0.50 0.59 0.43 0.11 0.78
Average: 0.54 0.57 0.55 0.49 0.65 0.68 0.29 0.63

An analysis of procedures, reasoning, strategies, communication, and concepts

Post-script added 16 August 2011

A study done as part of a report on the general education program learning outcomes applied a rubric to laboratory reports from the SC 130 Physical Science course. Fall 2009 ten laboratory reports were examined over Christmas break 2010. Ten laboratory reports from fall 2011 were examined during spring 2011. Those marking were not the same people year-on-year. The rubric is a four point rubric. For the fall 2009 laboratory reports, two graders looked at each laboratory report, their scores were added for a total possible of eight points for each factor in the rubric. Thus scores in the table below can be taken as being out of eight possible points. I was not made aware of the procedure followed for the fall 2010 laboratories, but twenty raw scores were combined suggesting two graders marked ten laboratory reports.

Group Scientific Procedures and reasoning Strategies Scientific communication/using data Scientific concepts and related content
SC 130 Fall 2009 3.90 4.00 3.30 3.90
SC 130 Fall 2010 5.8 5.8 5.0 5.2

Without some way of standardizing the raters 2009 to 2010, sorting out whether changes are significant is difficult at best.


a Report on writing improvement in physical science.

b Rounded average number of students out of 34 who answered final examination questions in that topic area correctly.

cSupporting documentation:
Spring 2010 final examination
Spring 2010 assessment
Summer 2010 final examination
Summer 2010 assessment
Fall 2010 final examination
Fall 2010 assessment
Spring 2011 final examination