i. What measures other than the improvement of teaching itself could help raise the quality of instruction (e.g., classroom facilities, effective instructional equipment)?
Key measures that we have taken to improve the quality of our instruction include (i) employing lab facilities as part of the instructional experience and (ii) providing more TA support for additional student contact hours. For the former, we have changed our lower division programming course sequence discussion sections now occur into a lab section in a physical hands-on lab setting. The use of such lab facilities enables students to put into practice what they are learning in a controlled setting with instructors and TAs. Such a setting also enables us to apply new pedagogical tools such as "pair programming" to the learning process.
To really fully master the practice of programming, our students need the opportunity to work both in both "open lab" settings—such as CSIL, where they can come on their own time on a "drop-in" basis to use the facility, as well as "closed lab" settings—structured offerings connected to a specific course, such as those that have been recently introduced to facilitate new pedagogical tools.
However, this has increased our utilization of the Cooper Lab facility, a facility shared by the entire College of Engineering, which has raised some concerns. Additional space for closed labs may be needed to support the new more "hands-on" engaged pedagogy.
j. What paths are taken by students after they graduate from the major, e.g., job placement rates, graduate and professional school admission rates? How does the department track its graduates?
Our majors are heavily recruited by companies over a wide range of industries. The department maintains a list of employment opportunities. and aA mailing list is avaliable for the announcements of such openings. The university has an excellent Counseling and Career Services Center, which coordinates between our undergraduates and company recruiters.
Most of our students go directly to the industry after graduation., and Oonly a small fraction go to graduate school. Our focus on increasing undergraduate research is expected to increase thethat fraction latter number.
The most recent campus survey of UCSB alumni (in Fall 2007) offers the following comments on Computer Science majors:
"Undergraduate alumni who studied computer science ($65,000), engineering ($56,000), business economics ($53,400), or mathematics ($46,700) are now earning the highest salaries among full-time employees surveyed."
"Computer science alumni stand out as having received more than adequate job preparation at UCSB – all 100% of the computer science students responding say they were prepared "very well" or "more than adequately" for their present occupations."
"Satisfaction with internships is more common among graduates of the following disciplines: environmental studies (64%), computer science (63%), biological sciences (48%), and engineering (47%)."
"Alumni from the following undergraduate disciplines give the highest ratings to UCSB’s graduate school preparation: computer science, engineering, environmental studies, and foreign language & literature."
"Alumni from the following undergraduate disciplines are the most likely to say “yes,” they would attend UCSB if they had it to do over again: environmental studies (100%), computer science (100%), mathematics (100%), and communications (98%). Nearly all of these students would also recommend UCSB to a friend, as well as 100% of biological/life science alumni."
13% were enrolled full-time in graduate study.
The survey report for the 2004 graduates makes remarkably similar comments about computer science students. However, rResponse rates are small: It is difficult to draw general conclusions on from the basis of these two surveys.
K . How would the department characterize the results of the undergraduate student survey? Does it believe they are generally representative of the experience of undergraduate majors in the department?
The numerical scores and the written feedback from the surveys suggest a healthy environment for our undergraduates. Furthermore, we have made steady improvements in most of the areas since our last PRP survey. Since that survey was conducted, The our curricular improvements we have made in the undergraduate curriculum and the targeted hiring of Phill Conrad and Diana Franklin, we believe, since the date of the survey wouldwill resolve most of the key criticisms discussed below. The student feedback can be broadly divided into these categories.
Curriculum issues: Students liked the offering of upper-division electives. They questioned the length of the premajor sequence, some specific courses in the curriculum, and their relationship to each other and other courses, . Our new lower division curriculum addresses most of these concerns. We have developed a plan for evaluating the impact of this curriculum to understand its impact. We are also developing
BA program: The students thought the BA program was not well coordinated. This also is also reflected in the program’s attrition rate. of the BA program. We are conducting a number of surveys to understand students' need for such interdisciplinary programs, and are redesigning a more flexible version.
Advising: Students wanted better guidance and help. The recruitment of Phill Conrad as our faculty advisor has helped immensely in this regard. We are have also developing a pilot program for individual advising.
Instruction: With regard to instruction by TAs, the lead TA program has helped and we plan to continue with it. Some of the lab sections have moved to the Cooper lab (with desktop machines) and which this has boostsed the hands-on experience in the our lower division courses.
Intellectual climate: Students remarked about the broad intellectual climate of the undergraduate programs. In this regard, we have introduced the distinction in major (DIMAP) program and introduced a research methods course in which students hear faculty presentations on research.
l. Comment on the department's general education offerings with respect to frequency, enrollments in the past five years, and the level of appointments teaching those courses.
During the past six years, we have had, at any point in time, one general education course. It had been CMPSC 5JA: Introduction to Programming (Java). With the our recent curriculum revampeding, of our lower division curriculum, our it general education course has become CMPSC 8: Introduction to Computer Science. The department has offered its general education course every Fall, Winter, and Spring quarter since the last PRP review; it has also offered its general education course in four of the last five summer sessions. Using enrollment from Fall of 2005 until Spring of 2010, we computed the average enrollments. In Fall quarters, it has been 136 students; in Winter quarter, 79 students, in Spring quarter, 89 students; in summer quarter, 33 students. Overall, average enrollment has been 87 students.
Generally, we use Lecturers to teach these courses. Until recently, these were "temporary" Lecturers (i.e., the individual are well educated and built up a body of experience teaching the course, but did not have security of employment).. Recently, as has been discussed elsewhere, the Department hired two Lecturers, one, whose appointment is wholly within the College of Engineering (COE), has Security of Employment; the other, whose appointment is evenly divided between the College COE of Engineering and the College of Creative Studies, has Potential Security of Employment. These individuals, while permanent members of our faculty, focus both their teaching and research on undergraduate computer science education. This year, we also had a Professor teach CMPSC 8 who, and he will do so again next year.
m. If the department's programs are subject to accreditation, comment on any recent reviews and their conclusions regarding quality of instruction.
The department underwent an ABET re-accreditation in the academic year 2008-2009. They found that "The Computer Science Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara is a nationally recognized, dynamic program." They found the following program strengths:
"The department's primary strength is found in its people. Its faculty members are recognized both within the institution and nationally for their contributions to the discipline."
"Students spoke highly of the faculty's engagement with the undergraduates. The classroom environment and interaction, as well as the ability to actively participate in faculty research projects, afford students strong academic credentials and a firm understanding of the discipline and their future career options."
n. How does the department provide access by students to its course syllabi?
The UCSB General Catalog is accessible via the Campus web site. We have a link, named UCSB General Catalog, to this page in our departmental web site. The UCSB General Catalog web page for the Computer Science Department has a table of contents which includes a link named Computer Science Courses, which is a page of catalog course descriptions for our courses.