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. 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 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, IT252, CS142, CS235, 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 major courses. All technical courses in the major include substantial lab and project requirements and the capstone experience for undergraduate students is a two-semester project class where the students work in assigned teams to propose, design, build, manage, complete and report on a significant project in the IT field.
The graduate program consists of a thesis-based MS degree. Currently graduate enrollment is very strong and students complete a variety of projects/theses in IT-related research and application.
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 follow directly from the Mission Statement and therefore inherit the intents of the mission statement and thus all the relationship to BYU's Aims. References to terms such as "understanding", "ability to lead and communicate", "lifelong learning" and "moral standards" are specifically intended to relate back to BYU's aims and to reflect the religious, intellectual and character building aspects of BYU's mission.Computing and Mathematics
(a) An ability to apply knowledge of computing and mathematics appropriate to the discipline
(b) An ability to analyze a problem, and identify and define the computing requirements appropriate to its solution
(c) An ability to design, implement, and evaluate a computer-based system, process, component, or program to meet desired needs
(d) An ability to function effectively on teams to accomplish a common goal
(e) An understanding of professional, ethical, legal, security and social issues and responsibilities
(f) An ability to communicate effectively with a range of audiences
(g) An ability to analyze the local and global impact of computing on individuals, organizations, and society
(h) Recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in continuing professional development
(i) An ability to use current techniques, skills, and tools necessary for computing practice
(j) An ability to use and apply current technical concepts and practices in the core information technologies
(k) An ability to identify and analyze user needs and take them into account in the selection, creation, evaluation and administration of computer-based systems.
(l) An ability to effectively integrate IT-based solutions into the user environment.
(m) An understanding of best practices and standards and their application.
(n) An ability to assist in the creation of an effective project plan.
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 and annual surveys of alumni provide data for both evaluating student competence and also evaluating the mission and goals of the program.
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
Selected groups of alumni are surveyed regularly (annually). Graduating students each have a face-to-face interview with the program chair as well as completing questionnaires. The questions to both of these groups specifically address the program objectives. Each class is surveyed each semester relative to completion of course outcomes.
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 program has a thirty-year history of successful accreditation as an EET program through ABET. We were 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.