Learning Outcomes and Assessment for the Applied Mathematics Major

Graduates of our program distinguish themselves for their problem solving skills, computational and modeling ability, and excellent communication skills. These abilities allow them to pursue scientific or technical careers in industry, education or government. In addition their strong analytical skills prepare them well to go on to graduate school or to participate in creative and innovative efforts in science, arts, humanities, engineering, and business.

Upon graduation, Applied Math majors should have a set of fundamental competencies:

  1. Demonstrate analytical skills and extensive experience with the tactics of problem solving and logical thinking. Graduates will have the ability to ask pertinent questions and perform suitable quantitative analysis.
  2. Demonstrate a solid understanding of rigorous mathematical proof. Students will be able to write clear well-organized and logical mathematical arguments..
  3. An ability to identify, formulate, abstract, and solve mathematical problems that use tools from a variety of mathematical areas, including algebra, analysis, probability, numerical analysis and differential equations.
  4. A deep understanding of at least one more area of specialization within mathematics or its applications.
  5. Familiarity with computer technology, software, and algorithmic processes necessary in quantitative analysis and mathematical modeling.
  6. An ability to design mathematical models, apply mathematical analysis and problem-solving skills in a broad range of intellectual domains (e.g., biological, physical, or social sciences and engineering) in public or private service.
  7. An ability to communicate effectively and to function well on multi-disciplinary teams.

Performance Assessment

Our courses provide and test the necessary content of knowledge and skills that lead students to the desired seven educational outcomes above.

To assess the proficiency in the seven learning outcomes listed above, the department intends to require all majors to take a capstone course on Problem Solving (MAT 189) in which students study a wide selection of topics from all areas of mathematics and its applications. However, this has not been approved on the campus level yet. Students are expected to use their knowledge acquired from other courses to analyze problems, devise their solution and present their work in writing and in oral presentations before the class. The instructor in charge of the course will mark a rubric when he/she will judge whether a particular goal has been demonstrated; thus the performance assessment will be responsibility of the instructor of this course. The resulting records will be collected and reviewed by the Undergraduate Programming Committee (UPC)

Several educational activities outside the traditional classroom, such as independent research, provide students good opportunity to demonstrate that they have attained the student learning goals. For this reason, students participating in these activities will be excused from having to enroll in MAT 189. These educational activities include: performing at least one semester of undergraduate research, writing an honors thesis under faculty mentorship and enrolling in one quarter of MAT 194; doing an internship in applied mathematics and enrolling in one quarter of MAT 192; successfully completing a special topics class MAT 180, fulfilling the requirements of the single-subject teaching credential, or achieving a good performance in a graduate admission exam such as the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, CSET, Actuarial examination, etc.

Every three years UPC will thoroughly evaluate the status of our major in terms of how well students are reaching learning goals. The evaluation will be based on the MAT189 rubrics, the GPA of students in our required classes, and comments from students and faculty. UPC will monitor recruitment, retention and advancement through the program of the majors. The Committee will report the results of the assessment to the entire Mathematics department with recommendations on how the major could be strengthened.