The Department of Physics at Kenyon College aims to provide Kenyon students with a rigorous and lively program of instruction in physics within the liberal arts context of the College. To this end, we aspire to several goals:
1. Students will achieve a solid grounding in theoretical, computational, and experimental physics suitable to prepare them for further study in physics or allied fields or for scientific work of their choosing.
2. Students will learn to apply both analytical and computational techniques in theoretical courses.
3. Students will learn to use the up-to-date equipment found in a contemporary research laboratory and learn modern measurement techniques and methods in experimental courses.
4. Students will learn about both the historical development of physics and areas of contemporary research in physics.
5. Students will become members of a supportive and collaborative community of physicists at Kenyon.
To assess graduating physics majors’ attainment of these goals, we consider the following data:
1. Performance on a standardized test of physics called the ETS Major Field Test.
2. Performance on individual presentations at a department colloquium, followed by an oral question session conducted by the physics faculty.
3. Performance in upper level theory and lab courses, as assessed by their grades and the judgment of the instructors of those courses.
4. Students’ feedback on the physics program, elicited through small group and/or individual exit interviews conducted by the chair of the department.
5. Students’ post-Kenyon educational or vocational placements, as reported in exit interviews.
To analyze the evidence collected, all full-time faculty members teaching in the department meet at the end of the spring semester to discuss student performance on the measures enumerated above, comparing student scores, performance on senior exercise presentations and orals, and work in upper level courses (direct measures) with expectations and performance of former graduates at the same stage in their careers. Faculty members discuss these direct measures, along with indirect measures (exit interviews, etc.), and use the discussion to consider possible changes to the curriculum and/or co-curriculum of the department. Recommendations and requests for resources are then communicated to the administration via DOAReports, Annual Reports, R&R requests, and personal communications with the Provost and Associate Provosts.