Computer Science Continuous Improvement

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Event Log


This is the assessment/continuous improvement page for Computer Science. It holds publicly-accessible information regarding assessment in CS.


Greg Donohoe maintains this page. For questions about the project, contact him at, or call him at 208.885.6899.

Curriculum Requirements

CS4yrplan.pdf - Overview of a standard 4 year plan for a Computer Sciece Bachelor Degree

CDANIC4yrplan.pdf - Overview of a standard 4 year plan for a Computer Sciece Bachelor Degree taking place in Couer d'Alene


Undergraduate Assessment

Objectives and Outcomes

Program Educational Objectives

Program Educational Objectives (PEOs) are broad statements that describe what graduates are expected to attain within a few years of graduation. Program educational objectives are based on the needs of the program's constituencies. Here are our current PEOs.

Student Outcomes

Student Outcomes [SOs] are skills students have when they leave a class. These are the standard Student Outcomes from the ABET 201-2012 Criteria for Accrediting Computing Programs, and we see no need to change them. Here's the list of Student Outcomes.

Course Outcomes

Course Outcomes are expected outcomes for each course.

  • Numbered for identification
  • Each course outcome (number) links to an ABET student outcome (lettered)
  • Assessment of this course outcome constitutes partial assessment of the ABET student outcome
  • Course outcomes are assessed using one of the following methods:
    • Exam questions
    • Homework assignment questions
    • Quiz questions
    • Rubric (suitable for activities not suitable for assessment by an examination, such as oral presentations.

Course outcomes are specific to the course. These are listed on the Computer Science Courses wiki.

Gathering Assessment Data

The process is designed to minimize the burden on the instructor. This is in recognition of that fact that assessment is often performed at the end of a semester, when instructors’ schedule are already overloaded. The design of the selection process is completed ahead of time; the instructor merely:

  1. Selects course outcomes to be assessed in a given semester, according to a master schedule
  2. Applies an assessment instrument (exam question, rubric)
  3. Evaluates and summarizes the results.


Here's a hypothetical example of an assessment data report:

Class: CS 120 - Computer Science 1
Semester Fall 2010
Assessment Method Final Exam Question
Course Outcome 6. Be able to invoke a simple assembly language program from a high-level language (C/C++) program.
ABET Outcome c. Design and implement a computer-based system
Students in class 24
Problem points 10
Passing score 7
Percent Class passing 75%
Required percent passing 80%
Satisfactory? No.

You can get this form as a spreadsheet here:


For Spring 2011 instructors are required to gather assessment data on two Course Outcomes, for each required course taught this semester. These are: CS 105, CS 120, CS 121, CS 150, CS 210, CS 240, CS 270, CS 395. The exceptions are CS 384 and CS 481, as we are still developing an assessment procedure for them.

Students who do not pass the course are not included in the assessment data. This is particularly significant in early courses where, we are still determining whether the students have the background to succeed in the program.

Evaluation Criteria

Unless otherwise determined, all course outcomes will be evaluated this way.

  1. Establish a passing grade for the course outcome (typically 70%)
  2. Establish a target percentage of students passing in the class (typically 80%)
  3. Grade the assignment
  4. Determine whether the target criterion has been met
  5. Report the results, with comments where these are helpful to evaluating the course outcome and incorporating improvements as necessary

List of Program Educational Objectives

The following are proposed Program Educational Objectives, based on the University Learning Outcomes, input from faculty and students, review by the University Institutional Research and Assessment Office, and review by the Computer Science Advisory Board. Final version dated May 19, 2011.

The Computer Science PEOs are mapped to the University of Idaho Learning Outcomes.

Computer Science Program Educational Objectives

  1. Learn and Integrate. Graduates of the program will be proficient in identifying, formulating, and solving computing problems by applying their knowledge of mathematics, computer science, and scientific method. They will be aware of the role of computing in multiple disciplines.
  2. Think and Create. Graduates of the program will be capable of specifying the requirements of a computing system. They will be capable of modeling, designing, implementing and verifying a computing system to meet specified requirements while considering real-world constraints.
  3. Communicate. Graduates of the program will be capable of communicating effectively with team members, constituents, and the public.
  4. Clarify Purpose and Perspective. Graduates of the program will be aware of the benefits of developing their understanding and professional capabilities through lifelong learning.
  5. Practice citizenship. Graduates of the program will have knowledge of professional and ethical responsibility and will contribute to society through active engagement with professional societies, schools, civic organizations or other community activities.

List of Student Outcomes (Current for 2015-2016)

The program must enable students to attain, by the time of graduation:

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of computing and mathematics appropriate to the program's student outcomes and to discipline
  2. An ability to analyze a problem, and identify and define the computing requirements appropriate to its solution
  3. An ability to design, implement and evaluate a computer-based system, process, component, or program to meet desired needs
  4. An ability to function effectively on teams to accomplish a common goal
  5. An understanding of professional, ethical, legal, security, and social issues and responsibilities
  6. An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
  7. An ability to analyze the local and global impact of computing on individuals, organizations and society
  8. Recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, continuing professional development
  9. An ability to use current techniques, skills, and tools necessary for computing practices
  10. An ability to apply mathematical foundations, algorithmic principles, and computer science theory in the modeling and design of computer-based systems in a way that demonstrates comprehension of the tradeoffs involved in design choices.
  11. An ability to apply design and development principles in the construction of software systems of varying complexity.

How the Student Outcomes lead to the Program Educational Objectives

CS PEO-to Student Outcomes.png

Course Documentation

Each course is documented on the Computer Science Courses wiki page.

Documentation includes:

  • Course number and title
  • Catalog description
  • Course coordinator
  • Link to a recent course web page including a syllabus
  • List of topics covered
  • List of course outcomes (what students should know or be able to do by the end of the course), indicating:
    • Which ABET Student Outcome this Course Outcome supports
    • How the outcome will be assessed
      • E = exam/quiz/homework
      • R = rubric

Why is this necessary?

It is important for our various constituents to understand the contents of our courses. Short, narrative catalog descriptions are a good start, but don't go far enough.

Example constituents:

  • Students who are considering taking the class
  • The next instructor to teach the class, who wants to know how to prepare
  • Advisory board members, employers who want to understand our program
  • Those who need to assess the program (ABET, NWCCU)
    • The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) requires that students have access to learning outcomes in writing.