Given the lack of data on achievement of the revised learning objectives (October 2016 revision) for the Biology, Biological Science Composite Teaching, and Public Health Majors, information on data-based decisions does not exist. However, as an example of how the Biology Department has responded to information obtained from its current assessment tools (largely graduating senior exit surveys), the following information on recent data-based decisions is presented. Biology will be similarly responsive to the information that begins to become available in fall 2017 from assessment of its revised learning objectives.
In response to multi-year student exit survey results the Department made significant personnel and organizational changes to the Biology Advising Office in 2004 and again in 2009. These changes resulted in improved exit surveys in following years. In 2014, the school developed a position for an academic advisor dedicated to helping students prepare for professional health education programs. This new position allows the Biology Academic Advisor to focus on the needs of Biology majors. Biology faculty and the Biology Advising Office now work in close collaboration with the Pre-Health Advisor in the Exploratory Advising Office to advise Biology majors who are interested in pursuing a health profession. The Biology Academic Advisor's role is now focused on advising, recruitment, and retention of Biology majors. Departmental faculty continue to provide a large role in advising and mentoring, leading to stronger connections between the faculty and students. Biology Peer advisors are also a valuable resource to our majors.
Based on the information gleaned from the Graduating Senior Exit Survey and the Evolutionary Biology capstone course, we continue to explore additional ways to better serve student needs, and to better evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum in the core Biology Program. Recent changes include:
- Separation in 2016 of the lecture and lab components of Biology I and II (freshman series) into separate courses.
- Several special topics courses (Biol 4750/Biol 6750) are offered each semester to accommodate student requests for learning opportunities in specialized areas.
- A new upper division physiology course focused on Neurobiology was added in 2015.
- A new course Advanced Human Physiology was created in 2011; this course provides an appealing physiology option for those students interested in pursuing a health profession.
- Adoption of name and content changes for the "Comparative Animal Physiology Laboratory" course to "Animal Physiology Laboratory" and recruitment in 2009 of a new instructor specializing in Ecological Physiology for the Comparative Animal Physiology course.
- Internship/Co-op class opened up to all biology related fields (not just pre-health) and a specific internship section for students interested in animal behavior and welfare was initiated with the cooperation of the local zoo.
- Integration and alignment of USU Eastern biology course offerings after school merger.
- Collaboration on course numbering and course transfer among schools in the Utah System of Higher Education.
- Public Health Education emphasis electives changed after a reevaluation of course content and student comments.
Application dates of College of Science and Department of Biology scholarships were coordinated and advertised together to increase student awareness.