Program: Physics (PhD)
Date: Thu Oct 19, 2017 - 12:42:21 pm
1) Institutional Learning Objectives (ILOs) and Program Student Learning Outcomes (SLOs)
1. Developed skills or gained experience as a physics or science educator
(5. Proficiently communicate and disseminate information in a manner relevant to the field and intended audience., 7. Interact professionally with others.)
2. Engage in advanced theoretical and experimental physics studies of core principles of physics, including Classical Mechanics (at the level of Goldstein), Electrodynamics (at the level of Jackson or Panofsky), Quantum Mechanics (at the level of Landau, Sakurai or Shankar) and Statisitical Mechanics (undergraduate level)
(1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in one or more general subject areas related to, but not confined to, a specific area of interest., 4. Critically analyze, synthesize, and utilize information and data related to one’s field of study.)
3. Establish expertise in focused areas of physical theory and experiment
(1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in one or more general subject areas related to, but not confined to, a specific area of interest., 2. Demonstrate understanding of research methodology and techniques specific to one’s field of study., 4. Critically analyze, synthesize, and utilize information and data related to one’s field of study.)
4. Produced directed study or original research in theoretical or experimental physics in a specific discipline
(1. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in one or more general subject areas related to, but not confined to, a specific area of interest., 2. Demonstrate understanding of research methodology and techniques specific to one’s field of study., 3. Apply research methodology and/or scholarly inquiry techniques specific to one’s field of study., 4. Critically analyze, synthesize, and utilize information and data related to one’s field of study., 5. Proficiently communicate and disseminate information in a manner relevant to the field and intended audience., 6. Conduct research or projects as a responsible and ethical professional, including consideration of and respect for other cultural perspectives.)
5. Gained exposure in current topics in theoretical and experimental physics in specific areas of physics research
(2. Demonstrate understanding of research methodology and techniques specific to one’s field of study., 4. Critically analyze, synthesize, and utilize information and data related to one’s field of study.)
2) Your program's SLOs are published as follows. Please update as needed.
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online: http://www.phys.hawaii.edu/
3) Please review, add, replace, or delete the existing curriculum map.
- File (03/16/2020)
4) For your program, the percentage of courses that have course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is as follows. Please update as needed.
5) Did your program engage in any program learning assessment activities between June 1, 2015 and October 31, 2017?
No (skip to question 16)
6) What best describes the program-level learning assessment activities that took place for the period June 1, 2015 to October 31, 2017? (Check all that apply.)
Collect/evaluate student work/performance to determine SLO achievement
Collect/analyze student self-reports of SLO achievement via surveys, interviews, or focus groups
Use assessment results to make programmatic decisions (e.g., change course content or pedagogy, design new course, hiring)
Investigate curriculum coherence. This includes investigating how well courses address the SLOs, course sequencing and adequacy, the effect of pre-requisites on learning achievement.
Investigate other pressing issue related to student learning achievement for the program (explain in question 7)
7) Briefly explain the assessment activities that took place in the last 28 months.
In August 2016, the Assessment Committee conducted surveys of members of the doctoral program. These surveys are used to assess the level of achievement all Learning Objectives.
Students in the doctoral program gain experience as physics educators by teaching assistanceships. The Assessment Committee used undergraduate student evaluations of their TAs to gauge the level of achievement of Learning Outcome 1.
In the summer of 2017, grades of doctoral students in the core graduate courses were collected and analyzed. These couses are Phy 610 (Analytical Mechanics), Phys 650 (Electrodynamics I), Phys 651 (Electrodynamics II), Phys 670 (Quantum Mechanics) and Phys 671 (Quantum Mechanics). These grades are used to assess the level of achievement of Learning Objectve 2.
In November 2015 and November 2016, a Qualifying Exam was administered to graduate students. Performance on this exam is used to assess the level of achievement of Learning Objective 2. Moreover, satisfactory performance on the Qualifying Exam (a grade of P*) is required in order to remain in good standing in the doctoral program.
Several dissertation defenses were conducted during this time frame. The dissertation consists of original research conducted by the doctoral student, and the defense is used to assess the level of achievement of Learning Objective 4. Moreover, passing dissertation defense is required in order to successfully complete the doctoral program.
This material was used to make changes to the program and to assessment procedures.
8) What types of evidence did the program use as part of the assessment activities checked in question 6? (Check all that apply.)
Assignment/exam/paper completed as part of regular coursework and used for program-level assessment
Capstone work product (e.g., written project or non-thesis paper)
Exam created by an external organization (e.g., professional association for licensure)
Exit exam created by the program
IRB approval of research
Oral performance (oral defense, oral presentation, conference presentation)
Portfolio of student work
Publication or grant proposal
Qualifying exam or comprehensive exam for program-level assessment in addition to individual student evaluation (graduate level only)
Supervisor or employer evaluation of student performance outside the classroom (internship, clinical, practicum)
Thesis or dissertation used for program-level assessment in addition to individual student evaluation
Alumni survey that contains self-reports of SLO achievement
Employer meetings/discussions/survey/interview of student SLO achievement
Interviews or focus groups that contain self-reports of SLO achievement
Student reflective writing assignment (essay, journal entry, self-assessment) on their SLO achievement.
Student surveys that contain self-reports of SLO achievement
Assessment-related such as assessment plan, SLOs, curriculum map, etc.
Program or course materials (syllabi, assignments, requirements, etc.)
9) State the number of students (or persons) who submitted evidence that was evaluated. If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.
Core course grades were evaluated from the 36 students in the doctoral program in May 2017.
Qualifying Exam grades were evaluated from 35 students admitted to the doctoral program between Fall 2010 and Fall 2014.
Assessment Committee surveys were filled out by 29 students. The surveys were administered using Survey Monkey.
10) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)
Ad hoc faculty group
Persons or organization outside the university
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)
11) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)
12) Summarize the results of the assessment activities checked in question 6. For example, report the percent of students who achieved each SLO.
580 undergraduate students completed mid-semester surveys of physics laboratory courses for which the TA was in the doctoral program. In response to the statement "Overall, the TA does a good job," 24% of the students agreed, and 46% strongly agreed. These results seem to indicate satisfactory performance in achieving Learning Outcome 1.
The core graduate courses are the courses which cover the material determined by the department to constitute "core principles of physics," and gaining competency in this material constitutes Learning Outcome 2. The student grade averages are as follows:
Phys 610 - 3.7 +- 0.4 (3.7 +- 0.4)
Phys 650 - 3.6 +- 0.6 (3.8 +- 0.5)
Phys 651 - 3.5 +- 0.7 (3.7 +- 0.5)
Phys 670 - 3.4 +- 0.5 (3.5 +- 0.5)
Phys 671 - 3.3 +- 0.5 (3.6 +- 0.5)
The numbers in parentheses are the core grade averages for students who received a P* on the Qualifying Exam, which is the graded needed to continue in the doctoral program. These averages are slightly higher than for the program as a whole, but the difference is not statistically significant. Note, doctoral students who have not yet received a P* on the Qual are mostly junior students, who also may not have completed the core courses.
These results seem to indicate satisfactory performance in achieving Learning Outcme 2, as meaured by grades on the core courses.
Between Fall 2010 and Fall 2014, 35 students were admitted to the doctoral program. Of these, 80% (28) received a grade of P* on th Qualifying Exam. This result also seems to indicate satisfactory performance in achieving Learning Outcome 2, as measured by the Qualifying Exam. (Note, students admitted after Fall 2015 may not have taken the Qualifying Exam.)
Between July 2015 and the present, 10 students successfully defended their dissertation (demonstrating achievement of Learning Outcome 4) and received doctoral degrees.
Student surveys also indicated a general belief that all of the Learning Outcomes were being achieved.
13) What best describes how the program used the results? (Check all that apply.)
Course changes (course content, pedagogy, courses offered, new course, pre-requisites, requirements)
Personnel or resource allocation changes
Program policy changes (e.g., admissions requirements, student probation policies, common course evaluation form)
Students' out-of-course experience changes (advising, co-curricular experiences, program website, program handbook, brown-bag lunches, workshops)
Celebration of student success!
Results indicated no action needed because students met expectations
Use is pending (typical reasons: insufficient number of students in population, evidence not evaluated or interpreted yet, faculty discussions continue)
14) Please briefly describe how the program used the results.
Learning Outcome 2 was modified to more concretely define the "core principles of physics" in a way which permits student performance to be better assessed.
Based on the responses to Assessment Committee surveys and other departmental input, the program (led by the Graduate Program Advisory Committee) engaged in a long discussion regarding the Qualifying Exam. This study is now concluded, and the following are the main results:
1) The Qualifying Exam will continue as a tool for assessment, and for continued participation in the program.
2) The level of testing for the various sections of the exam have been explicitly stated, and have been tied to the core courses and to Learning Outcome 2.
3) The timing for the Qualifying Exam has changed. It was previously administered at the end of November, but it will now be administered at the end of February.
Based on responses to Assessment Committee surveys, the department initiated an annual "One Minute Colloquium" in which each member of the department can give a one-minute, one-slide presentation about their research. The goal of this event is to give every member of the department, especially the junior graduate students, a better sense of the research going on in the department, and of reseach opportunities. This will help in achieving Learning Outcome 5
15) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries? This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, and great achievements regarding program assessment in this reporting period.
Learning Outcome 2 was modified so that it can be more directly assessed by performance in the Qualifying Exam and in core courses. Adequate performance on the Qualifying Exam (P*) is a requirement to remain in the doctoral program. Student performance in the core courses (B+ - A-) is also adequate. This indicates that students who achieve adequate performance on the Qualifying Exam also made adequate progress towards Learning Outcome 2, as measured by the core courses.
The sample of recent students who left the doctoral program due to inadequate performance on the Qualifying Exam is too small to yield meaningful conclusions.