Test-taking is usually identified with measuring knowledge at the end of a course to gauge students performance, but the Psychology department also uses testing as a means to improve course content and ensure that the curriculum is serving all their students.
Through early 2019, the Psychology department was administering the Major Field Test (MFT) to all graduating seniors enrolled in PSY411. Starting in the summer of 2019, the department is experimenting with sampling approaches—In the fall semester, one entire section completed the Major Field Test in Psychology; this spring volunteers from all sections will complete it.
MFT data are examined during meetings of the department’s Curriculum Review and Assessment Committee (CRAC). The committee meets twice a month to discuss assessment data, student learning, advising, and curriculum. The committee looks not only at raw numbers but also at relationships. The following is an example of a discussion item at multiple CRAC meetings in the past year.
- Analyses of MFT scores and PSY150 perceptions led directly to curriculum changes that are expected to better meet the needs of diverse students. Rather than a one-size-fits-all PSY150 requirement, students now have a menu of tailored options for a new “Professional Development and Enrichment” requirement.
Discussion of these data inform CRAC discussions and drive recommendations that are then taken up by the full faculty during department meetings. The MFT is an important source of information, in combination with the senior survey and other types of data.
The test results aren’t just saying something about the students, but the curriculum. The data they provide can be used to see how students are being served by the program.