Animal Science Assessment Results - 2018
In the spring of 2018, the Faculty of the Animal Science major met to formulate a plan to assess the program. This document is a report of our findings.
After the curriculum mapping exercise, we chose to assess learning Outcome #3 – Demonstrate effective oral and written communication to a range of audiences and within collaborative environments, [communication and collaboration] in ANSC 322 Principles of Animal Breeding and Genetics (Spring semester 2018); and learning Outcome #4 – Use scientific principles to formulate questions, explore solutions, and solve real-world problems and advocate based on science, [problem solving] in ANSC 432R Sheep Management (Spring semester 2018).
For Outcome #3 assessment was conducted with a group assignment (Breeding Management Plans) that had an oral and written presentation component. Each group had 8 to 10 student members. For Outcome #4 assessment was conducted with a group assignment (Group Project – Lamb Feeding Trial) that summarized the wether feeding project that took place this semester at Fort Ellis. This project required the group to analyze data collected on the wethers and to prepare an oral presentation (~12 minutes) and written report. Each group had 4 to 5 student members.
Each group was assigned scores by two evaluators, Dr. Jan Bowman and Dr. Tim DelCurto, using a total of 3 rubrics (attached). A rubric for Assessment of Oral Communication Skills, and a rubric for Assessment of Written Communication Skills (for ANSC 322), and a rubric for Assessment of Problem Solving Skills (for ANSC 432). For the rubrics with a 1-5 scale, an average score that was below a 3 was considered to be below expectations, and any average score of 3 or above was considered to meet minimum standards. For the rubric with a 1-4 scale, an average score that was less than or equal to 2 was considered to be below expectations, and any average score of greater than 2 was considered to meet minimum standards.
The results of our assessment are presented in Tables 1 and 2.
Table 1. Assessment of Learning Outcome #3: Demonstrate effective oral and written communication to a range of audiences and within collaborative environments (communication and collaboration)
|ANSC 322 Group||Oral Communication||Written Communication|
|Scale 1-5, < 3 = inadequate, ≥ 3 = adequate|
On the selected assignment, 100% of the groups in ANSC 322 were considered acceptable for oral communication, while 75% of the groups were considered acceptable for written communication. Our expected rate was 80%.
Table 2. Assessment of Learning Outcome #4: Use scientific principles to formulate questions, explore solutions, and solve real-world problems and advocate based on science (problem solving)
|ANSC 432 Group||Problem Solving|
Scale 1-4, ≤ 2 = inadequate, > 2 = adequate
On the selected assignment, 100% of the groups in ANSC 432 were acceptable at problem solving, which was above our minimum expected rate of 80%.
- All of the groups met expectations for oral communication skills with a range of scores from 3.6 to 4.5 on a 5-point scale.
- Average written communication skill scores were almost a full point lower on a 5-point scale than scores for oral communication skills. This suggests the written communication skills should be of greater concern than oral communication skills. Only 75% of the groups met the minimum communication skill standards, with several groups having individual Skills Rubric Performance areas (Context & Purpose, Content Development, Genre and Disciplinary Conventions, Sources and Evidence, and Control of Syntax and Mechanics) lower than 3 (considered inadequate).
- Specific areas of written communication that need to be addressed include:
- Content Development. Most students effectively used various aspects of ANSC 322 in their reports, but the relationship of the genetic breeding plan to their overall production model was vague, misleading, and often lacking detail.
- Sources and Evidence. Most groups had a limited number to no references throughout their Breeding Plan. Only one of four groups used sources beyond AI Studs or Breed Association websites.
- This assessment was effective in evaluating oral and written communication in a group project setting. However, it is difficult to assess the degree of collaboration that was happening within the individual groups. These groups were large with 8 to 10 students per group. It is likely that some students do most of the work and not all groups worked well as a functioning team.
- Problem solving seemed to be a greater strength of the groups than communication skills. On a 1-4 scale, the average group scores ranged from 3.2 to 3.9 for problem solving.
We identified some challenges related to our student’s skills:
- Like our 2017 Animal Science Assessment, we identified a number of weaknesses in our students’ written communication skills.
- Students had difficulty understanding the context of and purpose for the assigned writing.
- Students had difficulty developing content and writing with mastery of the subject.
- Students had difficulty with organization, appropriate content, and many basic writing skills.
- Students had difficulty supporting ideas with credible sources appropriate for the discipline.
We also identified some possible solutions:
- Incorporate more writing assignments in Animal Science courses.
- Provide example papers, grading rubrics and the common mistakes of most papers.
- We need to do a better job of articulating the assignment expectations and standards.
Future assessment considerations:
- Having all rubrics with a standard scale would be more effective.
- Finding a way to assess degree of collaboration within a group would be useful.