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College of Veterinary Medicine

Student Learning Outcomes

Student learning outcomes (SLOs) for Ph.D. graduates from the Veterinary Physiology Program:

  • SLO 1: The ability to formulate research questions, design and conduct appropriate experiments, analyze and interpret data;
  • SLO 2: Professional and technical expertise in chosen discipline;
  • SLO 3: Critical thinking, problem solving and interpretation of information;
  • SLO 4: Effective use of oral and written communication skills.

SLOs for the Physiology program align with the University-wide graduate student learning outcomes, specifically:

  • Knowledge
  • Skills
  • Attitude and professional conduct

Assessment summary

The current Student Learning Outcomes resulted from a vote of the Graduate Faculty in 2012. The rubrics and criteria for each SLO subsequently were refined, incorporated in a revised Graduate Student Performance Assessment form, and used in 2014.

  • SLO 1: Ability to formulate research questions, design and conduct appropriate experiments, analyze and interpret data;
  • SLO 2: Professional and technical expertise in chosen discipline;
  • SLO 3: Critical thinking, problem solving and interpretation of information;
  • SLO 4: Effective use of oral and written communication skills.

A combination of direct and indirect measured continue to be used. Direct measures include: performance in the departmental seminar course, AP803, GPA, and research publications. Indirect measures include evaluation of the major professor, aided by the rubrics developed for the annual Graduate Student Performance Assessment.

Between 2008 and 2016, the Physiology graduate program awarded 13 doctorates. All graduated students met expectations; average levels for all SLOs achieved percentages above 70%. Comparing data from 2013 and 2014, SLO1 values increased from ~81.4% to 88.9%. SLO3 and SLO4 values decreased slightly, but the small sample numbers preclude significance to be placed on these findings. It is unclear whether the changes are due to the differences in scoring between the old and new SLO criteria. Applying the new rubric on currently enrolled students will establish baseline levels from which progress can be monitored. Further data collections on currently enrolled students are required to determine sensitivity of this rubric in detecting progress.

Evaluation Rubric

The program directly evaluates successful achievement of the SLOs using a five-level rubric, with a score of 5 denoting an excellent skill level and a score of 1 indicating its absence. This guideline is applied to key aspects comprising each SLO, detailed below:

SLO 1: The ability to formulate research questions, design and conduct appropriate experiments, analyze and interpret data

  • Able to apply the scientific method to test ideas/hypotheses;
  • Familiar with a variety of research designs/ experimental methods;
  • Able to identify the various sources of experimental error;
  • Able to determine the appropriate sample size to address an experimental question;
  • Familiar with ethical guidelines and institutional policies relevant to research conduct, laboratory safety, animal experimentation, & human subjects;
  • Able to record, analyze and interpret data using appropriate statistical methods;
  • Able to identify appropriate experimental controls;
  • Able to evaluate the strength of a particular experimental design;
  • Able to identify the next experiment to support/validate or extend a hypothesis.

SLO 2: Professional and technical expertise in chosen discipline

  • Handling of course work appropriate to professional goals;
  • Familiarity with literature relevant to research focus;
  • Skills with computers and laboratory instrumentation, including information storage/retrieval and software applications;
  • Working within professional organizations and societies;
  • Awareness of contemporary issues in physiology;
  • Awareness of career opportunities.

SLO 3: Critical thinking, problem solving and interpretation of information

  • Able to identify and conceptualize problems by troubleshooting, and to draft solutions;
  • Able to brainstorm in a group;
  • Able to integrate, evaluate and consolidate information from different sources;
  • Able to access technology and to apply it appropriately;
  • Participation in journal clubs;
  • Participation in departmental seminars;
  • Able to analyze processes by reductionist and /or synthetic approach;
  • Able to identify strengths/ weakness in scientific papers, seminars and grants.

SLO 4: Effective use of oral and written communication skills

  • Speaking skills: Able to organize ideas and convey complex knowledge in an audience-appropriate and venue-appropriate fashion and answer questions effectively;
  • Writing skills: Able to write at multiple levels (abstract to full-length manuscripts);
  • Able to edit and proof-read manuscripts and to supply constructive comments and to respond to constructive criticism;
  • Familiar with processes related to publication in scientific journals;
  • Familiar with processes related to drafting and revising grant proposals.

Progression monitoring

Progress toward mastery is documented annually through shared communication and completion of two forms (links to pdf files below) by the student/mentor pair, followed by face-to-face meetings with the Graduate Executive Committee.

Document #1 (Graduate Student Annual Progress Report; GSAPR)

Document #2 (Graduate Student Performance Assessment; GSAPA)