Data-Based Decisions

Student in a Greenhouse

Outcomes Data

     The ultimate goal of assessment is to permit the collection of data which describes our success (or failure) in reaching our learning objectives.  This data can then, in turn, be used to make decisions that will improve our ability to reach our objectives.

Data-Based Decisions

Curriculum Changes

     New Major-  In response to student demand, the Department of Plants, Soils, and Climate has long sought to offer a major in landscape design and construction.  The purpose of this major is to allow graduates to be prepared to design, build, and maintain residential scale landscapes.  This major differs from landscape architecture in terms of scale.  Landscape architecture is primarily involved in larger scale projects such as large parks, subdivision design and urban & regional planning.   The Utah Board of Regents approved this new major in the fall of 2008 and students will begin this major in the fall semester of 2009.  Interest in this new major has been high.  Offering this major has required us to offer an advanced residential design course.
     A proposed Minor in Climate will hopefully begin with Spring semester 2010.  This will be an interdepartmental minor that will be administered from Plants, Soils, and Climate.
     Discussions continue among the plant science faculty on renovating the major requirements.  The discussions involve simplifying our offerings and including a stronger science option for students who wish to enter graduate school following graduation. Discussions continue among the Soil Science Faculty regarding a complete renovation of the soil science curriculum. 
     Beginning with Spring Semester 2010 all PSC courses will have the PSC prefix.  This replaces the four prefixes we have used in the past (CLIM, PLSC, PSC, SOIL).  This change should make it simpler for students to find our course offerings, particularly since the time schedule is now offered only on-line. 


     In response to the negative comments about advising, the department has moved advising to the college level.  The new advising center will ensure that an advisor is available during normal business hours.  This will allow students greater access to advising than we were able to offer on a departmental level.


     Overall, the undergraduate programs supported by PSC are effective. Students regularly evaluate department courses and their comments are reviewed at the administrative level and then given to faculty members. Department curriculum committees regularly review curricula and make changes as appropriate. At the last department review there were recommendations made to decrease duplication in coursework, increase the number of options, allow more unrestricted electives, develop an undergraduate major in land and water resources, and re-evaluate co-enrollment of BS and associate degree students in the same courses.

      In response to these recommendations we have successfully established a program in Environmental Soil and Water Science. We have also attempted to reduce redundancy in undergraduate courses. However, this is an on-going process and is somewhat difficult because of the large numbers of transfer students who come into the department with diverse training and experience. We have probably been less successful at increasing the number of electives due to the general education demands and the number of courses that are critical to the degree programs. Finally we have examined the issue of co-enrollment of associate and bachelor’s degree students in the same courses and have elected not to change. The reasons include no vocational funding from the state to support separate courses, a large number of students who move from the associate program to the bachelors program, and limited faculty available to teach more courses.

     The department also attempts to adjust programs as appropriate whenever a clear need or concern develops. Currently PSC faculty teach sections of USU 1350 and USU 1360. 

     As a department we try to maintain the standards and rigor necessary for effective educational programs. At the same time, we try to be responsive to student needs and make appropriate adjustments, as long as they do not reduce program quality.