2013 Employee-Alumni Report

The Review and Revision of Program Objectives (RRPO) Process

The goal of the RRPO process is to determine if the BSCS program objectives need to be revised.

The process entails a biennial survey of employers and recent graduates soliciting their thoughts on the program's mission statement, objectives, outcomes, and other matters.

The Employee/Alumni Report (EAR) summarizes and analyzes the survey data, and makes recommendations. The report is discussed at the faculty retreat and on the online forum, where decisions are made about revising the program objectives.

The surveys and survey data

The mission statement and program objectives can be found here:

BSCS Program Objectives

Here are the actual surveys:

Alumni Survey

Employer Survey

Here is the survey data:

Alumni Survey Data

Employer Survey Data

Low response rate

The alumni survey was sent to 200 alumni who graduated within the last five years. Only 11 responses were received. The employer survey was sent to 107 individuals. Only 15 responses were received. The validity of such low response rates is discussed in Note on survey Data. Some reasonable conclusions may be drawn, apparently; however, the faculty should discuss ways that the response rate can be improved. For example, last year's objectives assessment survey, which had a higher response rate, offered $50 gift certificates to randomly selected respondents. Also, the recipients of the survey may be fatigued by yearly surveys asking about fairly general and uncontroversial program objectives. For this reason it was decided to conduct the survey every two years and to expand the scope to ask for more useful and interesting information.

Summary of quantitative data

The quantitative data collected by the employer survey indicates that on average, our graduates compare well to graduates from similar programs and that our mission statement aligns with employer needs.

The quantitative data collected by the alumni survey indicates that graduates are generally satisfied with their career progress as well as the preparation they received from our program.

It should be emphasized that it's hard to draw conclusions about quantitative data given the low response rate.

Summary of qualitative data and recommendations

Respondents generally felt that the existing objectives and outcomes did not need to be removed, de-emphasized, or modified.

When asked to suggest additional outcomes and objectives, or to suggest modifications to the mission statement, there were several interesting comments (as well as comments that seemed off-topic or suggestions of ideas that the department is already pursuing.)

Here are some ideas worthy of the faculty's consideration, even though it's unlikely any additions need to be made to the program objectives or mission statement. Faculty members are encouraged to look at the actual data (Appendix 3) to see all of the comments received.

Require real world experience

We often hear that students need to have more real world experience. Some employers say they won't consider resumes that don't list internships or start-up experiences. Employers want graduates with a better appreciation of the business context of the projects they work on. Internships also improve hard and soft skills.

The department should consider making CS180I, the internship course, a required course. There are several required courses that could be turned into electives to make room for a new required course. Alternatively, the number of elective courses could be reduced.

Toward this goal, the position of internship director has been created, and Debra Caires has been given 3 units of assigned time to take this position. The internship director will solicit internships from local industry, match internships with interns, and monitor student progress through the internship. Students who can't be matched with internships could be allowed to take an alternative course such as CS161 Advanced Software Engineering or CS186 Individual Study.

CS180I is a natural candidate for a culminating experience course.

Another alternative to taking CS180I might be to start a company. The department is already working with the Business School and several incubators to create opportunities for students to start companies. Perhaps the department could create a CS180E Entrepreneurship course that would be cross listed with a corresponding business course.

It should be noted that in the past several years the department offered an experimental course in Business Concepts for Technologists. The course did not attract many students.

The ability to present work, More emphasis on communication skills

Currently all students take CS100W, where they learn how to do presentations. Students also do presentations in CS180I, so if this becomes a required course, then this will increase the number of presentations majors are required to do.

Management skills, project management, More experience with QA, Experienced with SCRUM

The BSCS degree has a slightly different mission than the BSSE degree. The first aims at creating software developers, while the second aims at creating software project managers. It could be argued that software developers need some exposure to topics such as SCRUM, QA, and project management.

Does the department need to rethink its participation in the BSSE program?

SCRUM is already covered in CS100W. Should it be required or at least recommended in our project courses? Should the department organize SCRUM training for the faculty?

Should the following CmpE courses be added to the list of electives for BSCS students:

CmpE 165 Software Engineering Process Management

Integrated approach to managing development within small teams; including mission statement, synthesis of design concepts, tradeoff studies, risk assessment and the interactions encountered in the optimal design, development, manufacture and test of systems. Prerequisite: CMPE 133 (SE II).

CmpE 187 Software Quality Testing

Software quality control, software testing concepts, methods, strategies, coverage criteria, test automation. Prerequisite: CMPE 131 (SE I) or instructor consent.

Emotional intelligence

Any suggestions? The department's mentor program was partly aimed at this goal, but the program has temporarily closed due to lack of funds.

More emphasis on continued professional development

The department needs to do a better job of encouraging students to participate in the IEEE and ACM. The department should start student chapters and sponsor ACM/IEEE events. Students should be required or encouraged to join. Lectures on the advantages of membership should be smuggled into the curriculum. Statistics should be kept on the numbers of students who join and the numbers of graduates still belonging after 3 – 5 years. Perhaps the liaison to the CS Club could be charged with some of these duties.

Broaden the range of tools

Any suggestions?