Executive Summary Report on the Physics and Space Science Programmes

Introduction

In accordance with the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) Institutional Quality Assurance Plan (IQAP), the Department of Physics submitted a self-study in July 2014 to the Director of the Office of Quality Assurance. For the programmes under review, the BSc and Honours BSC in Physics and in Space Science, it contained the degree level expectations for these programmes, an analytical assessment of the programmes, course outlines, programme-related data, survey data from the Office of Quality Assurance and appendices with sample examinations and CVs of faculty members.

External Review Committee (ERC)


One arm's-length external reviewer (Dr. Jean-Michel Nunzi, Professor, Department of Chemistry and Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy, Queen's University, Kingston) and an internal reviewer (Dr. Jennifer Scott, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, RMC) were selected from a list of possible reviewers and approved by the Deans' Council. They reviewed the self-study documentation and conducted a site visit to RMC November 12-13, 2014. The visit included interviews with the Vice-Principal (Academic), the Vice-Principal (Research), the Dean of the Faculty of Science, Heads of the Departments of Physics and Mathematics and Computer Science, the Chief Librarian, 3rd and 4th year students, graduates of RMC, civilian and military faculty members of the department and the technical staff of the department. The reviewers toured the Library and the Physics laboratories. At the time of the visit the labs and offices normally in Sawyer Module 3 had been relocated to the Temporary Academic Facility during the Sawyer renovation.

ERC Findings


The reviewers submitted their report in January 2015. In their report they found that the Physics and Space Science programme requirements are clear, that the outcomes are clearly identified, that the RMCC mission and academic plans are consistent with the programmes and that student work, in particular the fourth year projects, as well as subsequent graduate work, demonstrates achievement of the programme's degree level expectations. The admission requirements, the curriculum, teaching and assessment were all found to be appropriate. The undergraduate programme underwent some modest restructuring to respond to faculty and staff reductions due to workforce adjustment (WFA). The English and French streams of the programmes were found to be equivalent. The demands of the combined military and academic programme were noted, as well as student views on the core curriculum in Arts. Both programmes were found to be very strong and competitive with other Canadian university programmes in these areas. The Space Science programme is more unique than the Physics program, and the fourth year Space Science project is very popular with students since it allows them to participate as a team in a real-world problem and its solution. Laboratory equipment and instruments are adequate and well-maintained and the department is well-equipped. The technicians are much appreciated by department members, but post-WFA there are not enough of them to maintain all the instruments and three of them with very specialized skills are approaching retirement. Finding well-trained replacements for them will be the major HR challenge facing the department during the next IQAP cycle. Due to ongoing renovation at the time of the site visit, some laboratories were not visited. The Review Team provided several recommendations for consideration for programme improvement.

Conclusion


The Head of the Department of Physics and Space Science, after consultation with faculty and staff in the department, submitted a response to the Reviewers' Report in June 2015. The Dean of the Faculty of Science submitted a response to the Reviewers' Report and the Program's Response in October 2015. Specific recommendations were discussed, and clarifications and corrections presented. Follow-up actions and timelines were included. Based on all of the above documentation, a Final Assessment Report and an Implementation plan were prepared by the Dean of Science for the Senate. These were approved by Senate in November 2015. The programme has been approved to continue and is scheduled for its next review in eight years (2022-23).

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