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Assessment Plan

The Department is committed to continually improving the quality of our programs. The assessment activities outlined in this section help ensure that department goals and objectives for each of the degrees and programs in HDFS are being met.


To assess how the department is meeting its objectives for the undergraduate academic programs, data will be collected on student satisfaction, student competencies, and job placement.

Student Satisfaction

Student satisfaction is assessed with a student survey administered to graduating students. Exit interviews in three focus groups of six to eight randomly selected graduating seniors are also conducted each spring. Typically about two thirds of the graduating students complete the satisfaction survey. This questionnaire assesses perceptions of the quality of teaching, advising, education, and overall experience. This data are compared with that from the focus groups. The findings from both sources complement each other with a variety of instructors/courses being identified as providing an exceptional learning experience.

Knowledge, Skills, Curriculum

In each class, students complete the standard university teacher evaluations, which also assess how well the course met the stated objectives. With very few exceptions, all HDFS courses are rated 1-2 standard deviations above the expected score for meeting the objectives as well as for quality of course and instructor. This standardized report is compared to the narrative summary. Faculty and the department as a whole use these data to revise individual courses as well as overall curriculum.

As the capstone experience in the undergraduate program, each student completes a six-credit (300 clock hour) practicum prior to graduation. The practicums are completed near the end of the course of study after most course work has been completed. The practicums serve as a way for students to integrate what they have learned in the classroom into an applied, professional setting. Prior to undertaking practicums, students complete an application process during their junior year to demonstrate that they have achieved the academic success and maturity necessary to successfully apply their skills and knowledge in a professional setting.

The supervision of the practicum experience is a joint effort between the practicum coordinator and the practicum site supervisor and is directed by a structured system that includes 1) an agency agreement specifying the conditions under which the student may participate in a practicum within their agency, 2) objectives determined jointly by the site supervisor and the student, 3) written assignments completed by the student during the practicum experience, and 4) evaluations completed jointly by the site supervisor and the student during and at the conclusion of the experience.

During the practicum, each student completes written assignments reflecting on the successes and difficulties encountered during his or her internship. The site supervisor completes evaluation forms at midterm and at the conclusion of the student's practicum to provide the student and practicum coordinator with feedback about the student's performance. During the practicum, the student, site supervisor, and practicum coordinator meet at the practicum site to discuss the student's experience and how it is influencing the student's career goals. At the conclusion of the practicum, the practicum coordinator assigns a final practicum grade to the student based on completion of all of the required paper work completed by the student and the site supervisor, including documentation that the required hours were completed. The student has the opportunity to anonymously evaluate their practicum experience and the data from each student are collectively analyzed to determine the overall success of the practicum program.

The practicum coordinator, through conducting site visits, grading written assignments, and participating in and gathering written evaluations, provides the faculty with updates on the effectiveness of the practicum program, and whether the academic program has adequately prepared students to function in a professional setting from both the students and site supervisors perspectives. This feedback leads to discussions about what might be accomplished in the classroom setting to better prepare students to meet the demands of their professions. There is also statistical analysis of the student evaluations of both the department and the practicum site. How well students perform in their practicums gives the department very useful assessment information about how effectively the program is preparing students to function professionally.

Placement and Career Preparation

In addition to the assessment of students career preparation done through the capstone practicum experience, career preparation will also be assessed via data collected by the career counseling center on job placement. Approximately every five to six years employers are surveyed through a questionnaire. The last time this was done was in 2012-13. Data about HDFS’s graduates from the university’s annual placement survey will also be analyzed in assessing the effectiveness of our programs in preparing students for their professional lives.


To assess how the department is meeting its objectives for the graduate academic programs, we collect data on student satisfaction, student competencies, and job placement or continuing graduate education.

Student Satisfaction

In order to gather information from student perspectives about the program, students will be invited to provide feedback in both written and verbal form. Students will be invited to give written feedback to the department on a yearly basis. This feedback will relate to curricula, resources, assistantships, practical experiences, research, scheduling, and other matters pertinent to the successful completion of students degrees. The department head does an exit interview with each doctoral student upon completion of their degree to assess the quality of the program and mentoring. On occasion, groups of students may be invited to discuss programmatic issues with the graduate coordinator, department head, or other suitable persons. Areas identified for improvement from both assessments are assigned to standing or ad hoc committees in the department for follow up at faculty meetings throughout the year.

Student Competencies

The supervisory committees will hold annual evaluations of graduate students to assess student progress in the program. The committees, as well as others who have had experience with the student, will evaluate the students progress and recommend any needed remediation. The students major professor, committee, temporary sponsor, and/or the departments graduate coordinator may meet with the student in the spring semester to discuss the evaluation and potential remediation. Data from these meetings will be compiled by the graduate coordinator and submitted to the department head with feedback to the departments graduate program committee. Department policies for working with students who exhibit deficiencies will be followed. Graduate student competencies are assessed through the successful completion of the thesis or dissertation, which is a reflection of how well the program has prepared the student to conduct research. For doctoral students, competencies also include successful completion of written and oral comprehensive exams, demonstration of competence in teaching, research, service, and professional development through meeting the established departmental standards in each of these areas as outlined in the departmental graduate student handbook.

Career Preparation or Continuing Graduate Education of Graduate Students

Graduates are contacted on a periodic basis for feedback on specific parts of the program. Feedback from these surveys in the past four years has resulted in changes to the curriculum and doctoral comprehensive exams.