Program: Graduate Program, Statistics Department, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Assessment: Online Information System for Evaluating Graduate Students
At the end of each semester, the faculty meet to review the status of each
graduate student. In the past, it has been difficult to adequately assess students’ progress because (1) the institutional memory for each student was poor and (2) advice for each student depended on the memories or reports of a few interested faculty. Our goal was to produce more appropriate, more consistent, and higher quality advising for our graduate students. To do this, we wanted to share information about student status (e.g., grades, comprehensive exams, written evaluations from advisor and exam committee, self-evaluation from student) with all faculty and encourage all faculty to contribute information. We also wanted to have ready access to this kind of information from past semesters.
We developed a comprehensive computer program with the following features: password protection; easy data entry and editing for faculty, students, and staff; the creation of an online historical database; the capability to print formatted and organized reports on each student that could be bound into casebooks and distributed to faculty. One to two weeks before each semester’s meeting, this program is made accessible to faculty, students, and staff for inputting information. At the meeting, printed casebooks are distributed and further information, recommendations, and drafts of official letters from department to student are entered into the program in real time.
This program has greatly improved our ability to provide appropriate, consistent, and high-quality advising to our graduate students and is highly valued by faculty, students, and staff alike.
This program could be adapted to other departments and to undergraduate as well as graduate advising; in fact, we have discussed the possibility of adapting the program for our undergraduate advising. The main obstacle to this adaptation is that the program was tailored to the internal computing system of the Statistics Department, which is run more independently than most departments’ computing systems. This means that the program would need to be adapted to another computing environment.
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