Program Educational Objectives

Within the general framework of a Reformed Christian, undergraduate, liberal arts education, as described in An Engagement with God's World: the Core Curriculum of Calvin College (pdf), alumni of the Calvin College programs in computing, five years after graduation, should be:

  1. Pursuing vocations in computing in a socially and ethically responsible way, as informed by a Reformed Christian world-view (cf. the department mission statement), in order to advance the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
  2. Engaging in continuing professional development in order to support life-long learning.
  3. Developing mastery of and exhibiting leadership in one or more areas of computing.
  4. Functioning well on teams by exhibiting Christian virtues such as servant leadership, humility, encouragement and stewardship.
  5. Applying their liberal arts education to effectively function in their personal and professional lives.

Student Learning Outcomes

We demonstrate that graduates of the Calvin College programs in computing have the ability to:

  1. Apply computational concepts as appropriate to their discipline.
  2. Solve a computational problem, by:
    1. Analyzing the problem and identifying the requirements for its solution.
    2. Designing a computational system that solves the problem.
    3. Implementing the system using current hardware and software platforms and tools.
    4. Evaluating how effectively the system solves the problem.
  3. Communicate effectively through speaking and writing.
  4. Analyze the social and ethical issues surrounding the use of computing and its effects on society.

In addition to these program outcomes, all courses maintain their own course-level outcomes. These outcomes are published on the individual course homepages (see the courses page).

Assessment Plan

Computing is a dynamic, rapidly changing discipline. As a result, the Department of Computer Science assesses the program objectives and the student learning outcomes by doing the following:

  1. Conduct the following assessment activities:
    1. Graduating seniors take a major field test in their Perspectives on Computing course (CS-384), usually taken during the spring semester of their senior year. Computer science majors take the Educational Testing Services Computer Science Major Field Assessment Test (CS-MFT). Information systems majors take a similar test (if available). The CS-384 instructor provides the test results to the department for use in comparing our programs against other computing programs and to initiate change as appropriate.
    2. Students and graduates of all our departmental programs are surveyed each year via our senior assessment survey, which asks graduating seniors to assess their program. This survey is initiated by the department late each spring and administered in the capstone course. The data for both of these surveys are collected by the college and delivered to the department for review and action as appropriate.
    3. Faculty members undergo period reappointment procedures for the college. The department is formally involved in this process and uses the following definition of scholarship.
    4. The department curriculum committee evaluates the following things, proposing changes to the department as appropriate:
      • ACM knowledge unit reports - Faculty members report their coverage of the required ACM CS knowledge units in each required course each time a new version of the ACM publishes a new version of the knowledge units and when a faculty member teaches a new course.
      • Key assignment data - The sample assignment work submitted by the faculty for the following key assignments:
        • CS 108 major project
        • CS 214 major project
        • CS 262 final team project (including the documentation, presentation and code)
        • CS 384 paper integrating faith and computing
        • CS 396/8 final project (including report, presentation and system)
        The faculty provide top, bottom, and median solutions to each key assignment along with an evaluation according to the department grading rubric. The curriculum committee reviews the work and grading as specified by the grading rubric. The rhetorical assignments specified here are part of the departmentís rhetoric program. These data are collected every third year for each course and provided to the curriculum committee in early Fall for review and action as appropriate.
    5. The department meets with its strategic partners council (see partners council page) at least once per semester. These meetings are coordinated by the council, and the results are provided to the department by the department chair, who is the department's representative on the council.
    6. Faculty and courses are evaluated using the campus-wide assessment instrument. This activity is administered by the academic deans each semester for selected courses and faculty. The results are provided to the department chair, who reviews them and forwards issues to the personnel or curriculum committees as appropriate.
    7. The department curriculum committee reviews the program educational objectives, student learning outcomes and assessment plan, recommending changes to the department as required. This is done every third year.
  2. Conduct a sixth year external assessment - Every six years, the department undergoes an external review by an evaluation team from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) as part of the accreditation process for its BCS program. This process is initiated by the departmentís formal request for evaluation to ABET, and the resulting self-study questionnaire and ABET visitation report dictate changes to the departmentís processes.

The department chair coordinate these assessment activities, referring the results to the department or department committee as appropriate. All formal review and action is done by the department and documented in the department meeting minutes. The department chair also produces an annual state of the department report summarizing these data and delivering them to the academic dean during a meeting early each fall.