Los medanos college instructional program review icon

Los medanos college instructional program review



“The institution offers high-quality instructional programs in recognized and emerging fields of study that culminate in identified student learning outcomes leading to degrees, certificates, employment, or transfer to other higher education institutions or programs consistent with its mission. Instructional programs are systematically assessed in order to assure currency, improve teaching and learning, and achieve stated student learning outcomes.” This excerpt from the accreditation standards is a rationale for this work. This program review and planning document will be reviewed by the deans, and become the basis for the FPM/Block Grant, facilities planning, Box 2A and provide evidence for accreditation. Sections of this document will be reviewed by groups such as the Teaching-Learning Project, Curriculum Committee and SGC.

Program ___CHEMISTRY___

__AS__Degree ____Certificate ____Other__________________

Submitted on 6 Dec 2006 by the following faculty lead for the program:


^ Mitch Schweickert _______________________

(print name) (signature)

Reviewed and Approved by:

Dean _____________________ _______________________

(print name) (signature)

Sr. Dean _____________________ ______________________ (print name) (signature)


As you review and prepare plans for your program, keep in mind current goals and initiatives developed for the college’s Master Plan.


  1. Offer high quality programs that meet the needs of the students and the community.

  2. Ensure the fiscal well-being of the college.

  3. Enhance a culture of innovation, inclusiveness and collaboration.

  4. Improve the learning of students and the achievement of their educational goals.

  5. Establish a culture of planning, implementing, assessing and improving.


  1. Grow enrollments productively.

  2. Improve the image of the college.

  3. Increase the number of transfers, degrees and certificates.


Program review begins with the collection and analysis of data by the research office and instructional deans. The questions posed are based on an analysis of enrollment, productivity, success/retention, curriculum, college and community participation and program resources and development. For occupational programs, a copy of the Core Indicators Report is included. To access data, go to http://siren.4cd.net/cognos

  1. ^ Enrollments have been solid and Chem 6 & 7 seem to be impacted. Is there a way to offer more sections before the new building opens?

No. Although there are a few open time blocks in the lab schedule, we have run out of locker space. These labs are designed for one student to use one locker (or two, in the case of Organic Chemistry) – and yet in most sections we are doubling-up or tripling-up students. Assigning two or three students to one locker is already an embarrassment – and the students let us know this.

  1. Between 2002 and 2005 retention rates for Asian and African American students increased significantly. Was this by natural variation or the results of a strategy?

I wish we could claim this as resulting from a strategy, but the fact is, it just happened.

  1. Although retention and success rates are lower than the college average there is some improvement for some groups. Same question as #2.

Once again, this just happened, without any coordinated effort on out part.

  1. The data we received indicated that during 2002-2005 there were 3 to 5 students with Chemistry as the declared major and at least 18 units completed. No degrees were awarded during that time. Is this normal?

Three comments:

First, chemistry majors are on the decrease nation-wide. It is a demanding major, that most science students choose to avoid. It is far easier to major in biology, or biochemistry, and these majors will open many of the same doors that are open to chemistry majors.

Second, we don’t keep data on this, but we do see a fair number of students who declare as chemistry engineering majors.

Third, regardless of what a student declares as his/her major, most science students will transfer without bothering to acquire the LMC AS degree.

  1. ^ We are impressed with your curriculum development in supporting the nursing program over the years. Is Chem 7 serving its purpose well?

Yes. Chem 7 was created in response to the statewide CSU nursing program’s mandate to collapse the former one year General-Organic-Biochem sequence into a one-semester course. Chem 7 allows students to meet the requirements of the CSU programs, and likewise have a great introduction to chemistry skills needed in their later microbiology, physiology, and LMC nursing courses.

  1. ^ Chem 27, Quantitative Analysis, has not been offered in a long time. What do you plan to do with this course?

Good question – we have rarely had the enrollment to justify offering Chem 27 (same is true at DVC and CCC). Students who need the course will usually find it at their transfer schools. Interestingly, the new PTEC program includes a course that is basically “Chem 27 lite” (it’s only a one unit course), and perhaps it will inspire both students and instructors to rediscover this old gem.

  1. ^ In general you have done a great job scheduling to meet student needs!

Thank you!

  1. How is your program’s relations with high school and 4-year institutions in the area? Do you need to increase outreach/articulation efforts?

Any program could probably benefit by more outreach & articulation. However, we probably do more than most programs in this regard – we meet monthly with local high school and elementary school teachers via our involvement with Partners for the Watershed; we meet bimonthly with educators at the county’s Watershed Forum; Mitch Schweickert serves on the Advisory Board to Heritage High’s Environmental Science Academy; we are helping create an Environmental Science Summer Camp in cooperation with high school teachers throughout the county; and we have good relations with UC Davis, UC Berkeley, and CSU Hayward as a result of our collaborations connected to our NSF grant activity over the past several years.

  1. ^ Please begin planning on how best to utilize the new Science facility, including the impact on offerings, staffing and scheduling.



1. We will evaluate whether to keep Chem 27 (Quantitative Analysis) in the catalog, retire it , or re-incarnate it, with some clever connection to the new PTEC course “Advanced Instrumentation”, which should have solid enrollments from now into the foreseeable future.

2. We believe outreach to feeder and transfer schools is critical to our program at many levels. Our efforts in this area are fairly good, but we intend to make this a clear expectation on the part of any new full-time hires to the chemistry program – to wit, it was listed as a goal on our application for a “New Faculty Hire” in the Box 2-A process, and it will be an explicit desirable qualification listed on the job announcement for our new chemistry position.



At the completion of the program, the student will have done the following:

1. Applied scientific methodology, in all its explicit steps, to either:

• solve a complex problem posed in the classroom, or

• complete a significant laboratory analysis, or

• carry out an extensive study at one of LMC’s field stations.

2. Solved problems concerning the atomic and molecular structure of matter, using the periodic table plus quantum mechanics as the organizing and predictive models for this analysis.

3. Solved stoichiometric problems, including those complicated by the presence of limiting reagents.

4. Correctly predicted the products of standard inorganic, organic, biochemical, or nuclear reactions.

5. Applied the principles of thermodynamics and kinetics to solve problems:

• involving energy and entropy changes characteristic of chemical and physical reactions

• concerning rates and mechanisms of chemical reactions

• involving the principles of equilibrium

6. Demonstrated an understanding of electromagnetic radiation (i.e., light energy) and its interactions with matter, by carrying out spectroscopic analyses of atoms and compounds.

7. Conducted laboratory or field analyses using modern, professional technologies, selected from colorimetric, titrimetric, gravimetric, electrochemical, spectrometric, and chromatrographic equipment and instruments.

8. Engaged in at least one hands-on research or restoration activity at a field site of LMC or a community partner, in order to utilize the distinct opportunity provided by having the California Delta in our backyard, and to appreciate the effort needed to act as good stewards of our local watersheds.


How will you use assessment results from your last program review cycle to improve teaching and learning?

Not applicable this cycle.


We will focus on Student Learning Outcome #7:

Students will have: “Conducted laboratory or field analyses using modern, professional technologies, selected from colorimetric, titrametric, gravimetric, electrochemical, spectrometric, chromatographic, and GPS equipment and instruments.”

LMC currently has a decent variety of equipment and instruments, which allows an instructor to design an evaluation of this outcome that will be adaptable to the sophistication level of the course, plus be usable either in a laboratory or field setting, depending upon the instructor’s preference.

In the laboratory, evaluation of this learning objective is a slam-dunk. However, exciting field evaluations are also possible, because LMC already has instigated several research projects (all in collaboration with other educational, agency, or industry partners), giving us access to even more equipment plus state-of-the-art expertise. And most importantly, it gives an instructor the option of simultaneously folding in an evaluation of SLO #8:

^ Students will have:

Engaged in at least one hands-on research or restoration activity at a field site of LMC or a community partner, in order to utilize the distinct opportunity provided by having the California Delta in our backyard, and to appreciate the effort needed to act as good stewards of our local watersheds.”

which, being a “soft” objective, could be difficult to evaluate on its own.

For simplicity’s sake, the following plan only tackles SLO #7.

Students should be evaluated on the basis of their ability to do the following:

1. Understand the theory behind the operation of each technique. (For example, explain why different compounds have different retention rates on a chromatographic column).

2. Use the instrument safely, and use it in a way that demonstrates respect for its “delicacy” and monetary value (some instruments are worth $100k or more).

3. Calibrate the instrument being used. Where needed, create a standard curve.

4. Carry out an analysis of the samples, including all mathematical work-up.

5. Draw the correct qualitative or quantitative conclusion from the study.

Of course, we already grade students in chemistry courses on their ability to conduct such lab analyses. But we don’t keep systematic records comparing one class to another, with regard to any single lab technique. And we don’t necessarily monitor the relative progress of a single student over the semester with regard to this technique. Often, a technique will only be introduced during one lab period, without a second lab to reinforce the methodology.

At the start of each semester, instructors will select a technique (spectrometric, chromatographic, etc), a setting (lab or field), and two lab periods (early and late in the semester) that permit a class to have a first-run (introductory, mistake-prone) and then second-run (more polished, professional) at trying out the technique, in both cases evaluated by the five standards listed above. Instructors will keep anonymous records of these evaluations for comparison with other courses, during the same and subsequent semesters. Flex week workshops will be used to compare findings, and suggest ongoing improvements to the methods of our laboratory instruction.



  1. Accreditation standard II.A.2.c. states that “High-quality instruction and appropriate breadth, depth, rigor, sequencing, time to completion, and synthesis of learning characterize all programs.” Explain how the program meets this standard, evaluating the extent to which it is coherent, comprehensive and also meets the needs of the students and community.

Chemistry curriculum in the USA is fairly traditional and standardized – there are some colleges that try to break new ground and do innovative things, but LMC is very sensitive to the expectations of our transfer schools, and tends to be pretty traditional as well.

For example, in both the General Chem and Organic Chem sequence, we use the nationwide best-selling textbooks (Zumdahl & McMurry, respectively). Our General Chem lab program is somewhat innovative, in that we use an “inquiry” based lab text (Abraham & Pavelich), but it still covers the principles and techniques that are standard to the program.

Our Introductory sequence (Chem 6 & 8, and Chem 7) is also quite traditional.

In recent years, some of our General Chemistry students have been involved in research and restoration activities in local watersheds, but even these forays into the field are designed to ensure that students are still exposed to the principles and techniques typical of that course.

  1. ^ How does the program ensure that its curriculum is up-to-date with new discoveries and changes in the discipline?

All current instructors, full- and part-time, are actively engaged in their profession, in addition to carrying out their teaching assignments. For example, some are members of the American Chemical Society, including its Division of Education; one writes excellent interactive chemistry software as a side business; one works full-time as a chemist for the US Mint; one conducts environmental chemistry research in collaboration with partners at UC Berkeley, local industry, and several government agencies; two instructors are working closely with industry partners to design and teach a course for the new PTEC program.

  1. Title V regulations require that all course outlines be updated at least every 5 years. Have all program course outlines been updated within the last 5 years? [link to course outline last date of revision].

We have been very active in developing new curriculum and revising some old courses.

• Chem 5 was retired, and replaced with Chem 7 two years ago.

• We played a major role in creating the new PTEC program, including helping industry partners author eight new experimental (900 series) courses and eight new regular courses.

• We also played the major role in creating LMC’s new Environmental Science program, including helping with the authorship of six new courses, as well as preparing the application for new program approval that was sent to (and approved by) the State Chancellor’s Office.

However, some of our course outlines need to be updated, and a schedule for completion of this task is outlined below.


Our plan for updating existing courses is as follows:

• Academic year 2007-2008: Update Chem 6 & 8 outlines.

• Academic year 2008-2009: Update Chem 25 & 26, plus Chem 28 & 29

outlines. Also, resolve the fate of Chem 27, and if necessary, update this


The rationale behind this timeline is that we only have two FT faculty, one of whom retires at the end of this academic year. The remaining incumbent FT instructor is probably able to work on two outline updates next year, but is unwilling to ask any new FT hire to shoulder this type of task during the first year of service. However, we will, between us, update the other four courses during his/her second year of service.


Program review and planning must be integrated with other planning processes such as the master plan, requests for staffing, and the financial planning model. It is important that the institution effectively and efficiently uses its human, physical, technological and financial resources to achieve its educational purposes, including stated student learning outcomes and improvement of institutional effectiveness.


  1. ^ Does the program have sufficient full-time faculty and staff? Refer to the FT/PT trends for FTEF. How does this affect the success of the program?

While we would love to hire a third FT instructor, our balance of FT/PT faculty is similar to that of other LMC departments.

However, as we have stated in our last few program reviews, the Physical Science division is in desperate need of two new classified FT hires – especially by the time we move to our new building. Among other tasks, our current science lab technician coordinates all of the following functions for the entire Physical Science department (chemistry, physics, engineering, astronomy):

• Hires, trains, schedules, and supervises all student employees, and processes their time cards

• coordinates the AT Center

• coordinates all lab preparations and operations

• orders, receives, inventories, and maintains all supplies and equipment

• oversees all department budgets

• fills out orders for physical plant maintenance

• Note that currently, we have no lab coordinator to supervise any operations during our evening hours.

This will become an acute problem when we move to the new building, since:

• Biology and Physical Science will then be on separate floors

• all labs will be physically far-removed from the new AT Center

• we will have four labs (five, if you count the new observatory), instead of just one

• the planetarium will remain in the main building

Currently, the close proximity of all Biology and Physical Science labs and AT Center operations allows for some overlap in coordination and supervision – this will be impossible in the new building.

  1. ^ Describe program faculty/staff participation in staff development. What staff development activities are needed to improve the program?

Our chemistry faculty and science lab technician are well-integrated into LMC’s staff development programs (although these have been diminished the last few years, due to budget cuts). One FT instructor served as Staff Development Coordinator in recent past, and remained on the committee for six years following.

However, there is one huge staff development need, and it’s a problem we have struggled with for years. Lab instrumentation has undergone astonishing improvements in sophistication during the years since our aging faculty left graduate school. Unfortunately, it’s not possible anymore to just buy a modern instrument, plug it in, and use it. Most modern platforms require countless hours of poring over manuals, fooling with software, and continual (and expensive) maintenance. And after the aforementioned effort, there is no guarantee that all will be copasetic between instrument and operator (BTW - this is usually the fault of the operator).

The instrument vendors offer training workshops, but these are very expensive – certainly beyond any budget LMC can provide. We are still pondering solutions to this problem.

  1. ^ What additional facilities and equipment is required to maintain or improve the effectiveness of the program?

Once the new building is occupied, we will have adequate lab and classroom space. However, the chemistry program is very equipment/supply intensive, and it is our understanding that the budget for equipment & supplies in the new building will fall short of earlier expectations. We have been fortunate over the years to be on the receiving end of considerable generosity from local industry and agencies, and we must continue to explore that external pipeline.

Lately, we have also been told that our office furnishings (primarily drawer, bookshelf, cabinet space) in the new building will be inferior in capacity to our existing furnishings. This is intolerable, and must be addressed.

Lastly, someone (or some decision-making body) in the LMC IT department has decided not to purchase Mac computers for the new building. Years ago, we were offered a choice of two platforms, Mac & PC, and the powers that be happily supported both. (I understand that DVC & CCC continue to operate both platforms). Over time something has changed, and we Mac users have never been clear on who/what made this decision. We would appreciate clarification on this matter.

  1. ^ Does the program have a sufficient budget? How would budget increases improve the program’s effectiveness?

In an ideal world, we would like the budget to be increased for the following program elements:

• chemistry tutoring program (none currently exists)

• student workers (AT Center staffing, lab preps, etc)

• instrument purchases, maintenance, repair, and training

• lab supplies

Faced with the real world, we have worked hard to acquire donations from outside the college:

• Delta Diablo Sanitation District (DDSD) offers LMC the free use of its laboratory, and it donated $10,000 of equipment to our program.

• Dow Chemical has donated many used instruments and lab supplies over the decades; it will donate $40,000 towards an NMR for the new building

• We will receive $24,000 for new water quality equipment from a mitigation involving a local chemical company

• Contra Costa Water District donated a used GC-MS (worth $200,000 new)

• City of Richmond just donated a used AA spectrometer (worth $89,000 new)

• Several agencies, including the City of Pittsburg and the Resource Conservation District have supplied us with water quality equipment & supplies


1. We will participate in the process for new classified staff hires, in hopes of securing another FTE or two before moving to the new building (Fall 2008).

2. We will continue our outreach, to nurture our relations in the community, hoping to give something back in the form of our service learning projects, and sometimes gain something nice (e.g., equipment donations) in return.

3. We will also continue to explore outside grants where suitable – several LMC folks spent three years working on an NSF grant that finally came to fruition ($370,000 grant), only to forfeit it at the last minute due to apprehensions on the part of the principle Investigator (Mitch Schweickert).

4. We will look for creative solutions to our instrument training dilemma.

5. We will continue to press for suitable furnishings – and Mac computers – in our new offices. 


This section is for issues not addressed previously in this report.


Coordination of the new Environmental Science program is being done – happily, no complaints yet! - on a volunteer basis by FT chemistry instructor Mitch Schweickert. This is a suitable arrangement for now, but if the program gets off the ground, and grows, it will be necessary to formalize this program by hiring a new FT instructor for this program, who could be expected to take over the reins from Mitch. As it stands, Mitch is doing schedule building, hiring, public outreach, and will probably have to do lab preparations (the PT ES faculty have “day jobs” that preclude this, and our Physical Science staff is already spread too thin).

This program will eventually require its own budget for student employees, equipment & supplies, etc. When the new Delta Science Center in Oakley is completed (2008), the community will expect the college to staff this facility with dedicated LMC faculty and support staff.

We mention the above here only because currently the ES program has no “home”; the strong earth science component of the program argues for it to temporarily be housed in Physical Sciences; and its leader is a chemistry instructor who has trespassed into the ES domain via the involvement of his classes in field work.


Monitor the progress & growth of the ES program, and work to adjust college support as needed. By 2008, complete staffing (and other elements) of the Delta Science Center.

Interestingly, the wonderful donation of DDSD’s lab, and Dow Chemical’s offering of their wetlands for LMC field studies, has created a de facto “Delta Science Center West” , that is currently under-utilized by the college.




^ Desired Outcomes



Assess Program Level SLOs

Instructor designed protocols

Informative assessments

Mitch Schweickert

2007-2008 academic year (and beyond)

Update course outlines

Update course outlines

Updated course outlines

Mitch Schweickert

2007-2009 academic years




^ Desired Outcomes



Hire two new classified FTE for Physical Science division

Participate in classified staff hiring process

Hire two new classified FTE for Physical Science division

Angel Juarez & Kate Biosvert

Complete by fall 2008 (in time for occupation of new building)

Seek grant +/or community partner support for acquisition of new lab equipment & supplies, maintenance, repair, and training

Continued outreach & grant activity

Fully-equipped chemistry & environmental science labs

Mitch Schweickert

Complete by Fall 2008

Increase student employee budget

Participate in budget augmentation process

Increased budgets for student employees

Angel Juarez

Complete by Fall 2007

^ VIII. ANNUAL PROGRESS (not applicable this cycle)

Progress reports will be appended to this document each fall beginning in the academic year following completion of the program review.

FALL 2007

  1. Have there been significant changes in the internal or external environment that necessitated changes to your program review and/or plan? If so, please describe them.

2. What is the status of the objectives identified in the Program Action Plan?

3. If some objectives were attained, how successful were the changes in

improving program effectiveness?

4. How have you improved student progress through the program, student

learning, or other aspects of program quality such as efficiency?

5. If some objectives were not attained, what were the impediments? Do you

still believe these objectives will lead to program improvements?

6. What have you learned from this process that would inform future

attempts to change and improve your program?

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