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Customization of the ETS Major Field test for assessment in small computer science departments

Customization of the ETS Major Field test for assessment in small computer science departments,Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges,Dave Berque,A

Customization of the ETS Major Field test for assessment in small computer science departments  
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With support from MITC, several faculty members from Cornell College, DePauw University, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, and Ohio Wesleyan University are working on a project related to assessing student learning in computer science by administering a written examination to computer science majors. The idea involves asking computer science faculty members at selected small schools to look over a copy of the standard ETS Major Field Exam (we have permission from the ETS to do this) to identify a subset of the questions that are appropriate for computer science majors at "schools like ours." Faculty then use a web-based database (recently developed for us by MITC) to share information among small schools about our selection of questions.The database of faculty selections can be used in two ways. First, we believe it is useful for us each to see what topics our colleagues believe are most important when considered in the context of "schools like ours". Second, any GLCA/ACM school that is interested can administer the standard Major Field test to their computer science majors. The ETS can provide (for a fee of course) an "item analysis" for your school, telling you how your students performed on each question. Each school would then be able to develop an assessment metric such as: "We wish x% of our students at a particular level to be able to answer at least y% of the questions that at least z% of the GLCA/ACM faculty believe are important for students at schools like ours".Note that this approach allows us to take an existing metric and customize it so that it can be used more appropriately at schools that are similar to ours. This approach seems to be a good compromise between using internally developed metrics (which have the possibility of bias) and externally developed metrics (which may not be wholly applicable to computer science majors at small schools.)The database is now ready and faculty members on the project team have used it to enter rating information. During the spring 2005 faculty members will be using the database to assess student learning.Panelists will explain how each of their institutions have used the ETS exam and the accompanying database. They will also present their opinions on one or two sample questions from the ETS exam (if permissions is secured from ETS to discuss this in public, otherwise we will use sample questions).
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