Unit: Tropical Plant & Soil Sciences
Program: Tropical Plant & Soil Sci (BS)
Degree: Bachelor's
Date: Mon Oct 11, 2010 - 9:58:52 am

1) Below are the program student learning outcomes submitted last year. Please add/delete/modify as needed.

Upon graduation from the TPSS curriculum, a student should be able to:

1.     Understand basic plant morphology and be able to use it to identify plants commonly used in the discipline by scientific and common names.

2.   Demonstrate fundamental knowledge of biological processes (e.g., life cycles, respiration, photosynthesis, reproduction, source-sink relations, dormancy, photoperiodism, photomorphogenesis) and be able to use this knowledge to interpret horticultural practices and produce quality horticultural crops.

3.     Know how to apply appropriate plant management operations, including propagation, pruning & training, plant growth regulators, and environmental manipulations (light, temperature, water, nutrition, soil) in order to produce horticultural crops.

4.   Know how to apply IPM strategies (agricultural chemicals or their alternatives and sustainable practices) properly, including scouting & monitoring, timing & scheduling, rotations, calculations, and safety procedures.

5.  Understand the basis for genetics and fundamentals of plant breeding.

6.   Apply principles of soil science in the management of field soils, displaced soils, and artificial substrates in containers.

7.   Use technology effectively, including computer skills and be able to locate relevant data/research in hard copy as well as on line.

8.   Speak effectively and write concisely on subject matter within the professional curriculum.

9.   Realize the need for continuing education in the professional discipline through professional societies, short courses, conferences, use of the internet, and reading.

10.  Work effectively in a team situation either as a leader or participant to define problems and identify resources and solutions.

11.  Develop a global perspective on horticultural issues.

12.  Develop an ethical perspective and sense of moral responsibility and values in making decisions that affect the (human) community and environment.

2) As of last year, your program's SLOs were published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL:
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number: 358
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/ctahr2001/TPSS/courselist.html

3) Below is the link to your program's curriculum map (if submitted in 2009). If it has changed or if we do not have your program's curriculum map, please upload it as a PDF.

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2009:

4) The percentage of courses in 2009 that had course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is indicated below. Please update as needed.


5) State the assessment question(s) and/or goals of the assessment activity. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

Each semester, an assessment rubric (see question 6 in 2009 report) is distributed to course instructors for courses considered basic to one of four tracks within the TPSS undergraduate curriculum. There are 13 such courses, but none are taught every semester.  Instructors complete the rubric for TPSS students enrolled in the course and summarize the mean values.

While SLOs were not specifically targeted, they match up with goals shown in the rubric (Question 6) as follows:

Student Learning Objectives (See Q. #1)

See #6






















































6) State the type(s) of evidence gathered.

Our rubric was inserted in Q. #6 of the 2009 report and was not changed.  The A goals of the TPSS assessment rubric were based on the Student Learning Outcomes of CTAHR.  The B goals of the TPSS assessment rubric were developed from a consensus of a TPSS faculty committee in 2000-2001 when CTAHR initiated its assessment program.  These goals revolved around knowledge and skill areas specific to the undergraduate curriculum, which consists of four tracks: Production Horticulture, Environmental Soil Science, Plant Science and Genetics, and Landscape Horticulture. 

            Performance items included organization of laboratory exercises (e.g., leadership and [participation in team situations, analysis and problem-solving skills); presentations of laboratory results or of assigned readings (oral communication skills); term papers (written communication skills); and demonstration of knowledge as evidenced by test scores (knowledge-based criteria).  Use of these performance items varied by course.  Some instructors did not participate despite their course being designated as a major course for the undergraduate tracks.

            Specific questions were included in the online CAFÉ course evaluations and the results were to be returned to the Program Assessment Coordinator.   These questions deal with student evaluation of course organization.

5     I developed the ability to solve real problems in this field.

131 In general the course was well-organized


216 The course was well-organized in terms of continuity and presentation.

179 The types of writing we did were relevant to the field (Use for WI courses only)

214 There was considerable agreement between the announced course and what  was  taught.

215 The instructional materials (e.g., tests, handouts, etc.) were relevant to course


7) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected?

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)

8) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence?

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
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)

9) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated.
If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

While there would normally be 8 courses in which assessment is conducted, there were only 7 in the fall 2009/spring 2010 time frame (See notes in Q. #13).  Of the 7 instructors, only 3 responded.  Student count in these 3 courses totaled 38.

10) Summarize the actual results.

           Within the 3 courses for which assessment rubrics were completed in 2009-2010 (and no CAFÉ results submitted), most of the evaluations were close to 3 = Achieves Expectations.  In one of the major courses, the instructor noted that students were lax about attending class and showing up on time, and in this course, 5 out of 13 assessment measures averaged below 3 (2.8 being the lowest).

            An analysis of three of the Goals/objectives (oral communication, written communication, and application of knowledge & skills) for the 13 TPSS courses subjected to assessment over a period of 18 semesters (Fall 2001 through spring 2010) showed only 4 out of 39 course assessments reporting that the average class did not meet expectations in oral communication; 2 out of 36 reported written communications did not meet expectations, and 2 out of 35 did not meet expectations for application of knowledge communicated during the course.  These reflect average values for TPSS students in the course, so there are obviously a number of students who did meet expectations.  In only 2 of our 13 TPSS courses subjected to assessment did the instructors rate the class as exceeding 4 (out of 5) on the expectation scale in these three assessment goals/objectives.   This number we would like to see improve, but we have no control over the quality of students who enroll in our classes

11) How did your program use the results? --or-- Explain planned use of results.
Please be specific.

Use by faculty is unknown as the assessment process does not require them to report how they have modified their courses.

12) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries? This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.


            The most useful information would come from our students who have been out of the program 3 to 5 years and from employers of our students.  Resources are not available to conduct such surveys, and addresses of former students and employers are not available to us except in limited cases where we know a student has gone to work for an employer who has cooperated with us in the past.  

            The CTAHR Office of Academic Affairs investigated the possibilities of an on-line assessment survey, but found it was too expensive to implement.

            All faculty in the TPSS department have R or S appointments and minimal FTE assignments for instruction.  Some are very good teachers and strive to improve their courses based on information gained at national and local professional conferences as well as student feedback.  The assessment process is not used by them for course improvement.

13) Other important information:

In fall 2009,. The instructor for one of the usually-assessed courses did not return to campus and the course was taken over at the last minute by other faculty.  We did not feel it was fair to place the additional burden of assessment upon these volunteers.

In another regularly-assessed course in fall 2009, the faculty member was retiring at the end of the year and did not submit the assessment documents.

Facility renovation in spring 2010 caused the cancellation of another regularly-assessed course.  Since that renovation is continuing into 2011, that course might not be included in the next assessment round in fall 2011.

            One course was switched from Spring 2010 to Fall 2010 and thus is not included in this report but will be assessed in fall 2010..

            Since 2007, TPSS has lost (and will lose) 10 faculty to retirements.  A number of these also have taught courses on the Manoa campus.  We do not anticipate a rapid replacement of these faculty anytime soon.  Faculty who have picked up additional teaching responsibilities are not enthusiastic about the extra requirements of assessment.  Since the process of assessment has yielded no substantial support for our instructional program, the question of its value, beyond satisfying administrative & WASC requirements is open to debate.