Department of Social Work
College of Business and Public Affairs
The West Chester University (WCU) Undergraduate Social Work Department routinely conducts assessment of student learning. The department assessment plan was developed in accordance with WCU university-wide assessment policy and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) accreditation requirements.
Assessment of student learning provides insight into student competency. It also creates graduates prepared to meet the demands of high standards of excellence in the provision of social work services for the 21st Century. West Chester University is committed to assessment and has designated an Assessment Coordinator within each academic department to oversee administration of the department assessment plan. In 2008, CSWE revised its Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS), shifting from outcomes to competency-based standards. The WCU Undergraduate Social Work Department likewise revised its assessment plan to reflect attempts to measure student competency in the 10 core Competency areas specified in the 2008 EPAS. These 10 areas include professional identity, ethics, critical thinking and information literacy, diversity, human rights and social and economic justice, research-practice, human behavior and the social environment, policy-practice, responding to context and the ability to engage, assess, intervene, and evaluate with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities (for a full description of the 10 core Competencies and 41 Practice Behaviors delineated under these 10 Competencies, see the CSWE 2008 EPAS). The current plan reflects this transition.
After faculty review and training on the 2008 EPAS, the WCU Undergraduate Social Work department implemented the current assessment plan in the 2009-2010 academic year. Outcomes measures used in fall, 2009 were replaced with a competency-based plan that was initially implemented in spring, 2010. The assessment plan included 3 key assessment measures still in use: the Competency Exam, the Senior Integration Paper (SIP) and Field Evaluation III. The Competency Exam consists of a written multiple choice exam completed in the spring of junior year prior to entering senior field placement. Students write the Senior Integration Paper (SIP) in the fall semester of senior year. The Field Evaluation III consists of the final field placement evaluation of the student’s performance during internship that is completed in the spring semester of senior year, usually the student’s final semester prior to graduation. Recent faculty discussions have centered on the addition of a fourth measure, the Policy-Practice project, to supplement policy-practice and research-practice competency.
Data collected under the current assessment plan is presented below. Each year, the faculty spends considerable time discussing data results and completing an analysis of the findings at the May and August Faculty Retreat Days. Faculty discussion also occurs during the year at regularly scheduled faculty meetings. Meetings provide opportunity for feedback loop discussions that address areas where student learning appears to be below the benchmark level for that measure. Data trends are addressed through enhancing learning opportunities for students, strengthening psychometric properties of the measures and training faculty and field supervisors in the most accurate implementation of administering the measures. Feedback loop discussions in the department have resulted in greater awareness of growth opportunities in the assessment plan that will strengthen assessment of student competency. These included seeking psychometric consultation to enhance the format of the Competency Exam and to revise grading strategies for the SIP. In addition, data analysis revealed the need to strengthen learning opportunities for mezzo and macro competency during Field Evaluation III internship. These areas are currently being addressed through consultation with experts on and off campus to identify ways to strengthen the assessment plan.
The WCU Undergraduate Social Work Department addresses assessment as an on-going process where data is examined through a feedback loop. This feedback loop process invigorates interpretation of data results and highlights key areas for strength and on-going growth. In 2013, the Undergraduate Social Work Department received the first ever “Best of the Best” award from the Dean’s office in the College of Business and Public Affairs (CBPA) for its assessment plan. The prize for this award will be used to hire a consultant to strengthen measures and data collection and to bring a speaker to campus to address issues of assessment.