A utilization-focused program evaluation of the graduate safety program at University of Central Missouri
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Program assessment has historically and continues to be a critical element for academic programs to ensure continuous quality improvement of their programs. In the recent years, occupational safety, health and environmental programs have embraced assessment by external groups to validate their internal assessments. One external group offers ABET accreditation to academia programs vetting their content and effectiveness in achieving desired outcomes. The University of Central Missouri, a mid-sized school in Western Missouri has produced approximately 1,000 alumni with graduate degrees in occupational safety management. The graduate program is within the Department of Safety Sciences in the College of Health, Science and Technology. A comprehensive evaluation was conducted with the goal to assess what alumni of the program think of their preparation by the Department, as well as their perspective on what courses and skills an entry level safety professional should have upon graduation. The assessment instruments used in this research study included an online survey to alumni with a review of historical documents by the researcher. The results reflected alumni believe their preparation by the Department for their careers in the safety profession was above average. The practitioner skills and courses far outweighed the research based courses on importance from alumni. The methodologies used in this research are applicable for use xv by faculty from other academic departments or for other programs within the Department of Safety Sciences. The graduate occupational safety management program has maintained quality and sustainability across the forty four year tenure. The program has gone through many degree nomenclatures, curriculum changes, faculty and administration, but has stood the test of time. There have been peaks and valleys in the student numbers, but fortunately 2014 shows signs of continuing to climb to another peak in declared majors with more international students involved than ever before.