Many of you know that the Graduate School has required all graduate fields to formulate a formal 'Assessment Plan' prior to the end of the year. Faculty in our field have been working over the past several months to assemble our plan. After thoughtful discussion and revision resulting from the efforts of faculty and students our Assessment Plan was approved by the Faculty at our recent annual Field Meeting.

The Assessment Plan is mainly a tool for communicating our expectations for students and the adoption of this plan will cause little change in our procedures (see the FAQ for Assessment plan for answers to frequently asked questions).

The changes that you will notice when the plan takes effect in the Spring semester, 2012 are:

1. A new 'Faculty Rubric for Evaluating Graduate Student Oral Exam Performance' and the ‘Oral Exam Assessment Form’ that students will need to bring with them to their oral exams (A exam, B exam, thesis exam). This form will be completed by the student's committee immediately following the exam, signed by all parties, and then submitted to the GFA or DGS.

2. We are eliminating the Annual Report that students are now required to complete annually and replacing it with a Committee Meeting Summary. The Committee Meeting Summary will be filled out during a student's annual committee meeting, signed by all parties, and then submitted to the GFA or DGS. It is our hope that these tools will help to encourage and promote productive feedback between students, their advisors, and the Field while satisfying Graduate School requirements for our Assessment Plan.

This plan belongs to all of us and it is a living document subject to change to meet the needs of our faculty and students. Please let me know if you have any comments that you think could improve this plan for our field.

Dan Buckley
Director of Graduate Studies, Soil and Crop Sciences