Assessment

Mission | Learning Goals and Outcome Measures | Measuring Learning

The University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry offers research-based PhD degrees in 12 different programs, Master’s degrees in 11 programs, and a combined MD/PhD degree. While each of these degree programs offers unique training in the basic or health-related sciences, there are four overarching goals of the graduate education curriculum. These student-learning goals pertain to those pursuing either Masters or PhD degrees.

Mission

To provide students with a strong foundation in basic biomedical and health sciences essential to conducting high caliber research, and professional attitudes and skills needed to become leaders in their chosen field, all with a focus on launching a lifetime of continuous learning.

Student Learning Goals and Outcome Measures

The four goals below describe components of our mission.

Learning Goals
Outcome Measures
Knowledge of core concepts and principles of the specific scientific discipline within the student’s chosen program of study. Research-in-progress seminars;
Performance on qualifying exam;
Thesis document and oral defense;
Peer reviewed publications
Research skills to identify an important and timely scientific problem, design studies to gather data or develop methodology to address this problem, execute experimental procedures and/or analytical approaches needed to gather the data or assess the methodology, and interpret the evidence in a sound
and objective manner.
Research-in-progress seminars;
Annual committee meetings and evaluations;
Performance on qualifying exam;
Thesis document and oral defense;
Peer reviewed publications;
Acquisition of awards, grants and fellowships;
Post graduation employment
Ability to present results of research to scientific colleagues and the public through oral/audiovisual and written work. Research-in-progress seminars;
Annual committee meetings and evaluations;
Performance on qualifying exam;
Thesis document and oral defense;
Peer reviewed publications;
Presentations at local, national and international scientific meetings
Prepare students for immediate integration into the professional career for which they have been trained. Acquisition of awards, grants and fellowships;
Service (locally or nationally);
Post graduation employment;
Post graduation publication record

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Processes and Approaches for Measuring Student Learning

Research in Progress Seminars

This is an annual exercise in which students present the background information, approaches, data gathered, interpretation and future directions of their research project to an audience of peers, near-peers and faculty. Peers and faculty use written evaluations to provide feedback to student presenters. Evaluations are collated by a faculty member and shared with the student and the student’s thesis committee.

Measures proficiency of student learning goals 1, 2 and 3

Qualifying Exam

Students prepare a written research proposal in which they have to define a specific problem or unanswered question, describe studies that will gather necessary data or develop methodology to address this problem or question, and outline approaches to analyze and interpret the data obtained or to assess the methodology. Required components and criteria for success are provided to students prior to the qualifying exam. The document is evaluated by a faculty committee, which provides written and verbal feedback to the student. In addition, there is an oral defense of the proposal by the student. The faculty committee evaluates the defense and provides verbal feedback.

Measures proficiency of student learning goals 1, 2 and 3

Thesis Document and Defense

Students prepare a written dissertation (thesis) in which they define a specific problem or unanswered question, describe studies they conducted to gather necessary data or develop methodology to address this problem or question, describe approaches to analyze and interpret the data obtained or to assess the methodology, and discuss the implications of these findings. Required components and criteria for success are provided to students prior to the thesis defense. The document is evaluated by a faculty committee, which provides written and verbal feedback to the student. The oral defense includes a public seminar and closed-door examination, after which the student receives written and/or verbal feedback.

Measures proficiency of student learning goals 1, 2 and 3

Annual Committee Meetings and Evaluations

Conducted on an annual basis, this is a thorough graduate program-wide, standardized annual review process that requires each student to meet with their committee at least once a year, generally after their research-in-progress seminar. Through this process, each student receives a progress evaluation by his/her faculty mentor and thesis committee members. The committee evaluates student progress, noting areas of strengths and weaknesses, and makes recommendations for future goals. An evaluation form is completed and submitted to the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education. This process also monitors student achievements, such as the receipt of awards, fellowships and contribution to local and national service activities.

Measures proficiency of student learning goals 1-4

Peer Reviewed Publications

Students are expected to be the lead author on manuscripts that describe their research. This provides internal and external benchmarks of student learning. The internal benchmark comes from the fact that students must work closely with their faculty mentors and scientific colleagues to prepare the paper. The external benchmark stems from the fact that scientific publications undergo rigorous evaluation by experts outside of the University of Rochester community.

Measures proficiency of student learning goals 1-4

Post-graduation Employment and Scholarly Achievements

The Office for Graduate Education and Postdoctoral Affairs will create and maintain a graduate program-wide database that tracks students post graduation. For some graduate programs, this database and tracking system is in place, whereas for other programs it is under development. The database maintains records regarding post-graduation employment and peer-reviewed publications for all students. When available, the database also contains information regarding awards and other student accomplishments during their career. For all programs, the Senior Associate Dean for Graduate Education conducts a face-to-face exit interview with each student.
During this meeting, the Dean obtains the student’s private (non-institutional) email address and other contact information, which is entered into the database. Using this information, graduates are contacted periodically to provide updates (e.g., send in their CVs).

Measures proficiency of student learning goals 2-4

 

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