Information Technology BS
Within the context of the aims of a BYU education our mission is to educate professional leaders with an in-depth understanding of all aspects of computer systems and their relationship to the world. These leaders will combine their technical understanding with their broad-based general education to visualize systems, communicate effectively, think analytically and implement solutions.
As reflected in this mission statement, the program is strongly technological but intended to be part of a broader, liberal education context. Thus phrases such as "leaders", "relationship to the world" and "broad-based general education" are specifically intended to evoke the larger context of BYU's aims. Furthermore, as explicitly stated, this mission statement rests on the foundation of the "Aims of a BYU Education."
IT Program Educational Objectives:
1. Practice as a competent professional in IT or enrolled in an appropriate graduate program
2. Demonstrate leadership by positive influence on others towards shared goals
3. Collaborate and communicate effectively in diverse team environments
4. Show sensitivity for global, societal, organizational issues, compliant with the moral standards of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the application of technology.
The IT undergraduate program consists of a strong introduction to computer technology and programming with more advanced work in networking, operating systems, human computer interaction, databases, security and information assurance. It is closely aligned with our Cybersecurity major, allowing students to easily switch between them, since cybersecurity is so fundamental to IT. The first two years are designed to be compatible with other technical computing majors on campus.
The IT degree requires similar science and math courses as Computer Engineering (CpE) and Computer Science (CS) and, to a lesser extent, Information Systems in the Business School (ISys). Students should be able to transfer easily between CpE, CS, Cybersecurity, and IT within the first two years of their studies as they refine their interests and understanding of the technical computer field. IT rests on a foundation of Math and Science and thus includes classic courses in hardware architecture and computing (IT 124, IT 252, CS142, CS 235, CS 236), Math (Math 112, Stats 201) and science (Physics 121) etc. In line with Schools of Technology nationwide, there is a strong emphasis on experiential learning and integration of technology within the curriculum. This is reflected in the emphasis on lab-work and projects in all major courses, as well as the two-semester capstone experience for undergraduate students where the students work in assigned teams to propose, design, build, manage, complete and report on a significant project in the IT field. Additionally, 200 hours of work in the area of Information Technology are required prior to graduation.
The graduate program consists of a thesis-based MS degree. Students complete a variety of classes and a thesis related to an IT topic they are passionate about.
IT is a relatively new discipline nationwide and BYU IT faculty are actively involved in national committees and professional societies to create and comply with model curricula and accreditation requirements for IT through ABET.
These objectives relate directly to the Mission Statement and therefore inherit the intents of the mission statement and BYU's Aims. References to terms such as meeting "user needs", functioning effectively as a "leader", recognizing "professional responsibilities", and making "informed judgements based on legal and ethical principles" relate back to BYU's aims and to reflect the religious, intellectual and character building aspects of BYU's mission.Problem Analysis and Solutions
Analyze a complex computing problem and apply principles of computing and other relevant disciplines to identify solutions.
Design, implement, and evaluate a computing-based solution to meet a given set of computing requirements in the context of the program's discipline.
Communicate effectively in a variety of professional contexts.
Recognize professional responsibilities and make informed judgements in computing practice based on legal and ethical principles.
Function effectively as a member or leader of a team engaged in activities appropriate to the program's discipline.
Identify and analyze user needs and take them into account in the selection, creation, integration, evaluation, and administration of computer-based systems.
Evidence of Learning
At the course level, assessments include quizzes, exams, homework assignments, labs, papers and so on. Many projects require students to report orally and in formal technical reports. Students are also required to complete term papers and report on key developments within their discipline. The final capstone project includes significant reporting requirements in the form of public oral presentations, posters, videos, extensive formal technical reports and several presentations to external reviewers (Industrial Advisory Board members). External stakeholders help achieve a balanced evaluation of the program. Semi-annual meetings with the Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) and annual surveys of alumni provide data for both evaluating student competence and also evaluating the mission and goals of the program. Exit interviews with graduating students are conducted to identify areas of strength and improvement.
An extensive evaluation has been done relating program outcomes to:
- Individual course outcomes
- The IT "model Curriculum" published by ACM, IEEE-CS and AIS.
- ABET Computing Commission accreditation Requirements.
All faculty members participated in this analysis and in the discussions of measuring achievement of these outcomes. The course outcomes are evaluated both directly and indirectly as discussed below.
Each course in the major has defined learning outcomes. These are displayed in the BYU course catalogue. These outcomes are used by faculty in teaching. They are also reviewed and changed as needed, after discussion in faculty meetings.
Achievement of these specific course outcomes is evaluated by faculty teaching the courses with assignments and evaluations directed towards the objectives.
Graduating students each have a face-to-face interview with the program chair after completing the exit questionnaire that asks about program outcomes and opportunities for improving the program. Each core class is surveyed each semester relative to completion of course outcomes. Selected groups of alumni are also surveyed regularly (annually).
Learning and Teaching Assessment and Improvement
On the program level, all courses are evaluated by students through a formal, anonymous student response system each semester (administered by BYU). Results are provided to individual instructors and to administrative supervisors. Exit interviews are conducted with every graduating student, results are anonymized and summarized and then provided to all faculty. These results are discussed in faculty meetings. An Industrial Advisory Board meets twice yearly, reviews the program content, meets individually with students and provides feedback to the program. These meetings are recorded and summaries are provided to faculty and discussed in faculty meetings. Peer evaluations of instructors are also conducted before advancement and promotion.
Analysis, Evaluation, and Improvement Process
The entire program is reviewed and modified at least annually. Regular (weekly) faculty meetings are held, and recorded, to deal with on-going program changes.
The precursor to the IT program, the EET program, was accredited with ABET in the 1970s. The IT program was selected as a pilot program to undergo accreditation through ABET in 2005/2006. We were successfully accredited as one of the first IT programs in the country, using the new criteria.