MNR Assessment

Program-Level Learning Objectives

MNR students will gain the knowledge and skills needed to advance their careers and function better in natural resource management positions.  Upon completion, MNR students will be able to:

  • Distinguish between natural resource treaties, laws, regulations and policies.
  • Apply economic principles to natural resource management issues or problems.
  • Learn leadership and administrative skills important for management positions in natural resource agencies.
  • Explain ecological principles at individual, population, community and ecosystem levels and apply them to resource management practices.
  • Acquire geospatial data and understand how the data is created and collected.  Develop maps and conduct basic-to-advanced spatial analyses relevant to natural resource issues.
  • Manipulate and analyze data using statistical tools such as “R”, and interpret associated results.
  • Articulate the important human linkages to natural resources and how these linkages affect management practices.
  • Synthesize the above skills and knowledge areas into a well-written report that demonstrates how these core areas apply to a specific natural resource issue or problem.

A student's program of study includes a capstone project and foundational courses in Policy/Administration, Ecology, Geospatial Analysis, Statistical Analysis, and Human Dimensions and is approved by their supervisory committee.  

Assessment Plan

Graduate education is characterized by expectations that include mastery of subject material greater than typically associated with undergraduate education.  The learning objectives allied with this degree are described above.

Mastery of subject material by individual students in the MNR program is assessed by their supervisory committee following standard procedures required by the graduate school and college.  The individual plan for meeting these learning objectives is established through a program of study for each student and is approved by each student's supervisory committee.  The graduate advisor completes bi-annual evaluations of graduate students to assess student progress in the MNR program and their specific program of study.  Final assessment of student competencies occurs during the review of the capstone report, which is a reflection of how well the program has prepared the student to incorporate the five core areas (articulated in the eight learning objectives) and into analysis of and problem-solving for a natural resource problem.

The MNR program uses multiple sources of information to provide feedback for reflecting on the overall performance of our program on a holistic basis.  This feedback augments the assessments of individual student learning provided by supervisory committees.  Some of this information comes from the following sources:

  1. MNR course grades (NR 6910 - GIS; NR 6580 - Data Analysis & Programming; NR 6570 - Ecological Foundations; ENVS 6010 - Human Dimensions; ENVS 6310 - Intro to Federal Laws & Policies; ENVS 6530 - NR Administration; WILD 6400 - Ecoloogy of Animal Populations).
  2. Data gathered from alumni by USU Career Services.
  3. MNR exit survey.

The data is reviewed by the MNR Standing Committee, comprised of a faculty member from each department, to ensure overall program objectives are being met.  The Standing Committee meets regularly throughout the academic year to analyze course content, discuss additional courses, examine feedback received from students and review new MNR applications.  In order to make more informed decisions about the program, the Committee also reviews degree completion rates and informal information gathered through phone calls between the MNR Program Coordinator and program students and through MNR student committee meetings.  The exit survey data has been very limited by a low response rate, and consequently, the MNR program now requires students complete the survey before their graduation packet is considered complete (change instituted fall 2016).

Outcomes Data

Career Services
MNR Online Course Grades
Exit survey data 

Data-Based Decisions

Yearly reports of data-based decisions (including summary of the data upon which the decision was made) are developed by the MNR Standing Committee.  We continue to use metrics from our exit survey, course evaluations and student grades to help ensure success in the MNR courses.  Data gathered by Career Services showing employment trends and salaries is also used to evaluate the program.