Learning Goals, Proficiencies, and Assessment
The educational goal of the BME Graduate Field is to produce future leaders of BME who are able to apply quantitative methods across multiple spatial and temporal scales in order to solve problems related to human health.
A person can have an impact only through communication and so the BME Graduate Field emphasizes written, spoken, and presentation communication skills. A student in the field will acquire and practice these skills pervasively throughout their program, e.g., in course work, A and B exams, teaching, publishing research papers, etc.
Ethical issues are important in all domains but especially so in BME because of the proximity to human health. Discussion of these issues arise in many contexts during the first year, e.g., in the Summer Immersion Term. The successful completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research unit online is required of all students.
A candidate for a Ph.D. degree in BME is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in the field of BME, and to synthesize and create knowledge by making an original and substantial contribution to the field of BME in a timely fashion.
Each candidate must demonstrate the following proficiences:
- Make and original and substantial contribution to the discipline of BME
- Demonstrate creative and independent thinking
- Identify new research opportunities in the field of BME
Demonstrate advanced research skills:
- Identify existing knowledge and resources
- Integrate a variety of existing knowledge and resources to address a new problem
- Evaluate the candidate's results and those of others in the context of this integrated knowledge
- Master and/or innovate research methodologies and techniques
- Master and/or innovate communication methods for oral and written information exchange
Demonstrate a commitment to advancing scholarship:
- Maintain familiarity with advances in the field
- Engage with other investigators in the field and communicate findings via professional publications, participation in professional societies and research seminars, and other modes of communication
- Support learning through teaching, collaborative inquiry, and mentoring
- Demonstrate professional skills
- Display high ethical standards and expect high ethical standards of others
- Listen, give, and receive feedback effectively
- Make timely progress through the degree program
Assessment of Learning Outcomes
Assessment is the process by which an Ph.D. degree candidate demonstrates that they have achieved these proficiencies. The students who enter the BME Graduate Field come from very diverse educational backgrounds and have very diverse career goals. The research programs of faculty in the BME Graduate Field are very diverse and participate in a very diverse group of intellectual communities. For these reasons, the BME Graduate Field depends heavily on a student's Special Committee for assessment of the student's progress where the Special Committee is chaired by the student's thesis advisor and has at least two additional members who represent the Graduate Fields in which the student is doing minor programs, one in an Engineering field and one in a Life sciences field.
Because of the importance of the Special Committee to the assessment process, the BME Graduate Field has two mileposts that a student must achieve in order to be considered as making adequate degree progress:
- An advisor must be selected by the beginning of the third semester (not counting Summer).
- A complete Special Committee must be selected by the end of the third semester (not counting Summer), noting that Special Committee members can easily be changed up to the time of the so-called "A" exam (please see below) after which changes are possible but more difficult.
- The first examination is the Admission to Candidacy Examination ("A" exam) which is administered by the student's Special Committee. The exam is generally taken after the student has achieved their first research results and is in position to propose a research program that will lead to the Ph.D. degree. The exam has two parts.
- A written document is prepared in the weeks preceding the exam and given to the Special Committee about one week before the exam. The document describes what has been achieved and proposes what will be achieved in the remainder of the student's Ph.D. degree program. The form of the document is decided on the area in which the student is working. Typical forms include mock NIH R01 grant proposals, chapters that will eventually be a part of the thesis document, journal, or conference publications or manuscripts intended for such publication, etc.
- The Special Committee administers an oral exam. The form of the oral exam is decided by the student and Special Committee. The form is typically an open meeting during which the student makes a presentation of what has been achieved and the proposed further work to compete the Ph.D. degree followed immediately by a closed meeting devoted to further questions.
The second examination is the Final Examination ("B" exam), effectively a thesis defense examination, which is also administered by the student's Special Committee. The "B" exam is taken after the student has completed their thesis research and a draft of the thesis document has been given to the Special Committee. The form of the B exam is typically an open meeting during which the student makes a presentation of the thesis research followed immediately by a closed meeting devoted to further questions.