About the Project
As part of a graduate prompt, my team and I were tasked with the evaluation of the overall quality of the Indiana University Instructional Systems Technology PhD program. The goal of this study was to evaluate the current state of the Indiana University Instructional Systems Technology Ph.D. program. Considering experiences during the past five years, three main stakeholder groups with interest in the program were surveyed to determine their perspectives on the program’s successes, areas for improvement, and so forth. By requesting feedback from current students, alumni from the program, and current and emeritus faculty members, the information gathered shows a complete picture of the program.
Survey questions were designed to collect feedback on a variety of topics such as overall impressions of the program, and stakeholders were asked a variety of questions that were specific to their role, as well as some general questions that spanned all stakeholder groups to provide opportunities to triangulate the information being collected. Topics surveyed included areas of interest, demographics, faculty support, quality of instruction, resources, program of study, dossier process, and advising/mentoring. In addition, current faculty were asked about the level of support they receive as instructors and thoughts on the consistency of the education provided to students in the program. This, as well as other schools the students considered to complete a Ph.D. program, how they were paying for their graduate degree, and length of time to complete the program were surveyed as well.
Surveys were completed by 38 students, 14 alumni, and 12 current and former faculty members. As a credit to the efforts of the University and program toward diversity, equity, and inclusion, the respondents were made up of a majority of non-white students.
Survey results showed that most students are looking to work in academia post program completion, primarily faculty positions with some interest in administration. Most students and alumni indicated that their reasoning for selection the Indiana University IST(Instructional Systems Technology) Ph.D. program is its reputation and the work and experience of the faculty. Some also noted that the specific program and quality of education were a main draw.
As students and alumni were asked about weaknesses in the program, funding issues and cost to students were identified as possible areas where the program could struggle to retain students.
Our evaluation found that there was a focus on research for faculty, and while the faculty was highly skilled, students may leave the program ill prepared for research in the field or in academia. It also found that students and alumni believe that faculty prioritize research over instruction. There may be a correlation between these factors, as lack of instruction focus could lead to less prepared students.
One of the major strengths of the IU (Indiana University) IST Ph.D. program was the access to resources in technology for students and support of collaborative work. Students felt very strongly that the need for technology was exceeded in the program for their success. However, while faculty agreed that resources were plentiful and available, they did also note that they felt that there were not enough human resources in the form of additional faculty members to adequately support the program.
90% of students and alumni felt that the program prepared them for their work post-graduation, and students, alumni, and faculty agreed that the implementation of the dossier was a positive step in replacing the qualifying exams. There were, however, some discrepancies in expectations surrounding the process for the dossiers. When asked about course content, students indicated they did not feel there were enough cognate elective courses despite the faculty focus on research.
Overall, all stakeholder groups feel that the IST Ph.D. program is strong, faculty are highly skilled, resources are available, and the reputation of the program is positive. Nonetheless, there is opportunity for growth, and a few ideas for this are outlined below. The evaluation found opportunities for improvement for both students and faculty.