Student Outcomes Assessment Plan Professional Science Masters in Ecosystem Management

Student Outcomes Assessment Plan
Professional Science Masters in Ecosystem Management
Department of Biology
University of Northern Iowa
November 17, 2008
Student Outcomes Assessment Plan
PSM-Ecosystem Management
Section I. Departmental philosophy of Student Outcomes Assessment.
The Professional Science Masters in Ecosystem Management prepares students for
careers outside of academia, such as conservation and restoration-related business,
nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. It will develop students’ skills in
ecosystem analysis, management and restoration and also their ability to work and
communicate with a variety of people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise.
Section II. Student Learning Outcomes
Content Knowledge
1. Students will demonstrate understanding of the linked nature of social and
ecological systems across space and time, as defined by professionals in the field of
ecosystem management
2. Students will demonstrate understanding of modern ecological theory as it applies
to natural resources ecology and management
3. Students will demonstrate understanding of major environmental policy, how it
is administered, and areas of current debate and controversy
4. Students will have introductory-level familiarity with basic organizational
management principles
1. Students will be able to assess a site for ecological restoration and management,
and develop a workable site plan including, at minimum, useful maps, a
scientifically defendable native plant species list, and plans for site preparation,
seeding techniques, invasive species prevention/suppression, and ongoing
monitoring and management that reflect recognized best management practices
2. Students will be able to work with a team of professionals and fellow students, in
collaboration with scientists and non-scientists in the community to complete an
extended, year-long project in ecosystem management
3. Student will meet standards of professional excellence in communication,
analysis, reliability, and teamwork.
Student Outcomes Assessment Plan
PSM-Ecosystem Management
Section III. Student Outcomes Assessment (SOA)
Note: “portfolio” refers to a paper and digital copy (where required) of the student’s
principle accomplishments in coursework and project assignment. The portfolio will be
maintained by the student and submitted to the graduate advisor for use in student
outcomes assessment.
A. Content Knowledge
1. Linked social and economic systems. PSM Seminar grade in Fall and Spring
semester of no less than B+; Project proposal, progress report and final report reflect
application of this concept to their project.
2. Modern ecological theory applied to natural resources restoration and
management. Advanced Ecology grade of no less than B+; term paper in Advanced
Ecology demonstrates understanding of both basic theory and applications.
3. Major environmental policy. Grade of no less than a B+ in Team-Based Problem
4. Organizational management principles. Term paper in Business Management for
Science Professionals will demonstrate understanding of a key business principle to
a specific example of ecosystem management, such as the student’s team project.
B. Skills
1. Site assessment and planning. Completed final restoration plan in Restoration
Ecology, with grade of no less than B+.
2. Successful completion of tem project. The primary external client (defined as one
who is not the student’s graduate advisor) shall be satisfied with the student’s
project. This will normally be communicated by letter or recommendation for a job
or grant proposal. If communicated informally to the student’s advisor, a note will
be placed in the student portfolio with the main points of the conversation
summarized. Grade of no less than a B+ in Advanced Analytical Techniques and
Team-Based Problem Solving.
3. Standards of professional excellence. As judged by graduate advisor and one
other PSM-EM faculty member:
--Professional communications will high quality.
--Final project report and Advanced Ecology term paper will meet or exceed
expectations of scientific accuracy and analytical quality.
--Team members (fellow students and/or outside collaborators) will express respect
and appreciation for student’s service and reliability in formal evaluation, letter of
reference, or summary of conversation placed in portfolio.
Student Outcomes Assessment Plan
PSM-Ecosystem Management
--Oral communication skills will be assessed in discussion-based classes
(participation grades in Advanced Ecology, PSM Seminar) and in public speaking
opportunities (note of evaluation by PSM faculty placed in portfolio).
--Successful completion of Summer internship or job experience will be documented
in the portfolio by supervisor letter or conversation with graduate faculty.
Section IV. Implementation Process
The program will be assessed biennially, in the Fall of odd years. The
Departmental SOA committee will meet with the Biology Department graduate
coordinator plus one or more additional faculty involved in the PSM-Ecosystem
Management program as determined by the Department Head. Other faculty may be
appointed at the discretion of the Department head. Strengths and weaknesses in the
program as identified by the SOA will be identified. Graduate faculty will identify
improvements to course content and skills, team project management, curriculum,
recruiting and admissions standards, or any other component of the program needed to
address the weaknesses. Any needed curriculum changes will be proposed at this time.
Other changes to the program will be implemented immediately where practical, or in the
next academic year.
The PSM in Ecosystem Management program will also be reviewed informally
by professionals in the field as they visit to give a talk or field exercise. Their comments
and impressions on the program will be recorded and included in the biennial assessment