BIOL 2600 "Human Physiology" Fall 2017 ­p; Prof. Stark
Assessment Report

It is particularly problematic to do "assessment" for BIOL 2600 "Human Physiology" this semester. Since December 2002, "course assessment" replaced "student outcomes assessment" (see; faculty were directed to collect information used to change or improve courses in keeping with SLU's policy ("Assessment results are utilized to improve courses and curriculum"). Biology faculty were even asked in our annual brag sheets how we had used the results of assessment to improve our courses. I did not start teaching Human Physiology until 2004. So, for the entire time I taught this course, I administered a questionnaire for course assessment that started with the question of whether the course met its stated objectives, cumbersome for the students and time-consuming for me to score (see This course will be discontinued after this semester, and, anyway, I am retiring, so the issue of improving the course is now irrelevant. Furthermore, this course was a service course for students in another COLLEGE (BME [Biomedical Engineering] sophomores in Parks Engineering College) so I think outcomes in this course are irrelevant to Program assessment in the Biology Department (College of Arts and Science). And so I am taking this situation as a reason to undo the burden of the questionaire.

Furthermore, "student outcomes assessment" for courses is returning which is presumably useful for ongoing program assessment in the Biology Department. It is difficult for me to understand "their" thinking, who "they" are, where their authority comes from, or whether they are competent. But here is what they want: "direct measures of student learning include artifacts such as written assignments, research papers/projects, lab reports, case studies, posters, powerpoint presentations, pre- and post-test measures of knowledge, embedded exam questions that relate to a specific learning outcome, and student portfolios." I guess "embedded questions" presupposes that there are only a few things we think students should know. On my course web site ( I have typically a hundred questions with answers on each topic outline; the exam questions were chosen from these lists, so the students had access to the many things they were expected to know. Because I need to calculate and assign meaningful objective grades in this course, I give tests and do none of those subjective artifacts that cannot be quantified.

Information relating to outcomes assessment
Test 1 (out of 50) High 50, Low 21, Ave=35.88, SD=7.74
Test 2 (out of 50) High 50, Low 16, Ave=37.98, SD=9.51
Test 3 (out of 50) High 49, Low 7.5, Ave=36.56, SD=9.09
Final (out of 75) High 73.5, Low 13. Ave=47.46, SD=15.85
I dropped the lowest (of Tests 1 to 3). The final curve was
A ­p; 89% to 100 (n=10)
A- 80% and up (n=8)
B+ 70% and up (n=11)
B 60% and up (n=10)
B- 50% and up (n=3)
C+ 40% and up (n=7)
C- 29% (n=1)
The course grade curve was 3.23, a little lower than the average for 2010 - 2016
It is noteworthy that 8 out of 49 students earned less than 50% (even after I dropped the lowest test). It is also noteworthy that the average percentage on tests (after dropping the lowest hourly in-class exam for each student) was an appalling 71.6%. Finally, it is noteworthy that attendance was about one in three through most of the semester, Considering how well the top students performed, I have to wonder what some of the students are doing in college.

In terms of outcomes assessment, that the top score was 98.3% proves that the material can be mastered. The fact that the low score was below 29% shows that the material was challenging, also, perhaps, that there were some students who did not belong in this course or in this major or in college.

Posted January 16, 2018

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