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Performance Assessment SD IGERT Goals Evaluation Reports


Procedure: Program objectives are systematically measured through five interrelated assessment activities. These include an attitudinal survey, longitudinal tracking of student cohort groups to include demographics and scholarly achievement, student and faculty focus groups, cognitive impact, and ethical understanding.

Attitudinal Survey: Student attitudes and perceptions of learning can have a significant impact on students' confidence to complete advanced courses and independent research. Given the cross campus collaboration and interdisciplinary nature of the program, it is important to measure how student perceptions and attitudes are impacted through various aspects of the program.

Longitudinal Tracking: A database is maintained on each student upon entry into the program. Demographic information will include gender, race, and primary emphasis area of interest. Information will be maintained on an annual basis and will track progression towards graduation, internships, cross campus rotations, and participation in K-16 outreach activities. Placement data will be maintained for the duration of the project and for one year following project completion. Tracking data will be used primarily to assess scholarly achievement of the program and the impact that internships, cross campus rotations, and outreach activities might have towards program completion. Secondarily, this information will be used on an annual basis to determine focus groups for formative evaluation.

Focus Groups: Focus groups are utilized primarily for formative assessment and program improvement and include discussions both with students and with program faculty. The evaluator interviews at least five students annually with particular focus on those students who have just completed a campus rotation or an internship since these are most likely to impact student attitudes and perceptions for program improvement. In addition, the evaluator meets with faculty at each campus annually to discuss faculty perceptions, intervention strategies, and strategies for development and refinement of a future student pipeline. Student and faculty comments are reported annually to the program management only in the aggregate.

Students in the program complete an annual survey of student attitudes and confidence levels either through the SALG (Student Assessment of Learning Gains) or rough an independent assessment created through Survey Monkey. A subsection of the attitudinal survey is devoted towards measuring student satisfaction with various program elements. Survey results are reported annually and are used for both formative and summative assessment.

Cognitive Impact: Cognitive research suggests that, despite the promise of higher education, the development of student complex thinking skills is limited during the college years. Intellectual growth promises to
be more substantial during graduate programs but limited data is available. A primary focus of this program is to intentionally provide both a multi-disciplinary approach and a breadth of experiences that will aid the student to better understand a multi-faceted approach and ability to think more holistically about research. The end result is that students in this program should be able to develop better complex thinking skills and have an ability to operate independently to conduct high impact research. Students in the program will complete a pre-assessment of cognitive development at the start of the program and a post-assessment in the last semester prior to graduation. A gain of at least one cognitive level would be indicative of program success. Measures to be considered include the Measure of Intellectual Development (MID) for the Perry model, the Measure of pistemological Reflection (MER) for the Baxter Magolda model, and the Reflections on Current Issues or the STEPS for Better Thinking rubric for King and Kitchener's reflective judgment model.

One aspect of student development is typological understanding. An ongoing research and assessment project within the Industrial Engineering department at SDSM&T is measuring thinking preference curves for first year and graduating engineering students. Current data suggests a mismatch between student learning preference curves and much of the engineering curriculum. Dr. Kellogg offers a professional development workshop on cognitive development each year. Students participating in this program may participate in the workshop at no charge. Students participating in the program will sign a permission form that allows aggregate data to be collected and reported back to the division directors and to the IGERT coordinator as well inclusion in a data base for ongoing research of student typology. An advantage to the student is a better understanding of student development with a goal towards improved K-16 outreach.

Ethical Understanding: Few areas of research generate more public concern than in the nano-technology area for the simple reason that nano-materials and devices can have enormous positive benefits, but often with unintended consequences or public misperceptions. For this reason, the program includes a specific requirement for a unit on research ethics. Moral reasoning will be measured at the beginning of a student's independent research phase through the Defining Issues Test (DIT) or similar ethics instrument.


Goal 1: Ensure South Dakota's capacity for meaningful contribution to research and workforce development in next generation solar cells and related technologies.

Goal 2: Establish an active inter-institutional, interdisciplinary program for graduate education and training at the interface of modern materials chemistry, materials engineering, and electrical engineering.

Goal 3:
Train professionals, within the context of Goals 1 & 2, with broad interdisciplinary backgrounds, uncompromised depth of knowledge in their chosen fields, and an expectation, based on their own experience, of engaging in large scale research projects in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environnment.


The specific objectives relating to these goals are to:

1. Implement a new model for small graduate programs in rural States to develop influential, collective, interdisciplinary graduate programs capable of high-impact contributions to research and workforce development in critical areas.

2. Confer degrees to ten students per year and place graduates in postdoctoral appointments, university faculty positions, national laboratory staff positions, solar industry, or as entrepreneurs.

3. Recruit ten new B.S. level students into the program each year. Recruit appropriately prepared M.S. level students who have demonstrated potential for success.

4. Enroll, graduate, and place women and Native American students in proportion to their representation within the state of South Dakota.

5. Students in the program will produce at least six technical articles and journal publications per year in nationally recognized outlets for nanostructured solar cells, materials, process, and devices.

6. Student self-efficacy and persistence as measured by progress towards graduation will increase with enhanced opportunities to conduct independent large scale research projects in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment.

7. The program will support at least four projects per year for K-16 education outreach. K-12 demonstration and laboratory projects will meet South Dakota Science Standards and will be evaluated for both impact and usability.


Formative evaluation is completed on a biannual basis, starting September, 2010. Summative evaluation started toward the end of Year 1, and is conducted on an annual basis. Some of the assessment tools will fill both a formative and a summative role.


(Click on the years below
to see each report)