Computer Science Discipline Capstone Course Assessment:
Assessment of CS3901 - Seminar, 2 credits
Now changed to CS3902/CS3903 - Seminar, 1 credit each course
CS3903 is a "capstone" course for assessing the learning of basic fundamental computer science concepts and for the student to learn to present scientific material, both in written form and orally. Students as well as all computer science faculty participate in the assessment of student progress and of the final project outcomes. CS3902 teaches our students about ethical problems faced by computer scientists and also gives students exposure to and practice in writing and presenting in preparation for the CS3903 course.
Computer Science has struggled with when and how to offer these courses. The 3901 course offered students the opportunity to research a current topic in computer science and, working one-on-one with a faculty member, develop a written document and a professional presentation of this research. CS3901 began as a senior course. We determined that our students could benefit, however, from learning how to do research earlier than the senior year in order to help them with MAP projects, UROP research, etc.
We offered the course as a sophomore course last year. Based on the drop-out rate and and frustration of our students, we are changing the course again. This year, students will take one half of the course for one credit during their sophomore year and the other half of the course will be offered to juniors and seniors. In the first half, students will learn the fundamentals of reading, writing and presenting scientific literature but in a setting where the material they read will be more general in nature and not journal papers containing cutting-edge scientific research. The second course will then allow the student to pursue a topic of his/her choosing by reading the latest research journals. Evaluations of the presentations in both courses will continue using the assessment tools developed previously. Essentially these tools include an evaluation completed by all students and faculty attending the presentations. Next year, we will again assess if the course is working as designed. This assessment will include a combination of evaluations by faculty of the papers and presentations and evaluations by students on how they perceived their learning in the course.