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Student Goals and Achievement

College

The College, which is “dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in the liberal arts,” evaluates its success with respect to student achievement in a manner consistent with its mission (see University Statement of Mission and Purpose). The College monitors graduation rates, first-year student retention rates, graduate and professional school placement rates, and job placement rates over time as part of its assessment of overall program effectiveness in “applying and utilizing knowledge in the service of humanity”.Of the first-year students enrolling in Fall 2008, 83% graduated in four years, and 88% graduated in six years. This figure has remained consistently high over the past five entering classes (Fact Book 2014-2015, p. 30). These percentages reflect a rate of graduation significantly higher than the 2013 national average for Carnegie Research Universities (high research activity) at 35% and 59%, respectively.Of the first-year students enrolling in Fall 2013, 93% returned for the sophomore year in Fall 2014. Again, this figure has remained consistently high over the past five entering classes (Fact Book 2014-2015, p. 30). The 2013 retention rate for Carnegie Research Universities (high research activity) was 80%.

In the 2014 graduating class, there was a 48% acceptance rate to medical schools, compared to 41% acceptance rate in the nation (Fact Book 2014-2015, p. 33). The rate of acceptance to accredited law schools in the same year (2013-2014) was 78% for Wake Forest University seniors (compared to 86% nationally) and 85% for all Wake Forest University applicants, including alumni (compared to 78% nationally) (Fact Book 2014-2015, p. 34). All eligible Wake Forest Department of Education students who were recommended for licensure by the Department were issued a Teaching License from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (It should be noted that not every student chooses to apply for North Carolina certification.)

Of the class graduating in Spring 2014, 28% went into graduate or professional schools, whereas 67% obtained employment (Fact Book 2014-2015, p. 31). In comparison, 29% of the class of 2010 went to graduate or professional school and 58% obtained employment (Fact Book 2010-11, p. 32).

These numbers of success upon graduation are due in large part to the creation of the Office of Personal and Career Development, which engages students in their first year to assist them in charting an appropriate academic path for pursuing their chosen career interest. Taken together, these numbers indicate that the College is exceeding the desired thresholds for success in student retention, graduation, and career placement.

Divinity School

The School of Divinity evaluates success with respect to student achievement consistent with its mission: “the School of Divinity prepares leaders informed by a theological understanding of vocation. Through imaginative courses and diverse programs of community engagement, students are equipped to be agents of justice, reconciliation, and compassion in Christian churches and other ministries” (School of Divinity 2014-2015, p. 6).The Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree stands at the center of the School of Divinity’s degree offerings. The program prepares students from diverse ministry experiences and theological perspectives for religious leadership, encouraging students to engage the rich histories and traditions of Christian congregations, to increase awareness and understanding of issues facing churches in their local and global contexts, and to integrate their knowledge of varied theological and ministry disciplines with what they encounter in ministry settings and in the world (School of Divinity 2014-2015, p. 19). The School assesses student achievement in the MDiv degree program based on the extent to which students meet the learning goals for the degree. The School also assesses achievement based on graduation and placement data and student assessment of program effectiveness.The School of Divinity assesses the MDiv portion of joint degrees (Bioethics, Counseling, Education, Sustainability, and Juris Doctor) based on (1) the extent to which students have met the learning goals for the Master of Divinity Degree and (2) the extent to which students demonstrate the ability to integrate what they are learning in the two degrees.

Goals for the Master of Divinity Degree (School of Divinity 2014-2015, p.9)

Students who graduate with the Master of Divinity degree from the Wake Forest University School of Divinity shall demonstrate:

  • A knowledge of Christian scripture, history, and theology that is substantial and relevant for pastoral ministry;
  • Evidence of sustained reflection on vocation and on the cultural and contextual issues bearing upon ministry;
  • Development of skills, gifts, and arts of ministry appropriate for leadership in local congregations and other settings.

The School of Divinity, as part of a reporting procedure for the Association of Theological Schools, revised its assessment plan for the MDiv degree and began using a new assessment plan in 2012-2013. The degree assessment plan utilizes student portfolios, compiled over each student’s six-semester enrollment in the program, and assessment rubrics to evaluate the program’s effectiveness at meeting its curricular goals. A faculty committee is appointed to evaluate the portfolios at the conclusion of each academic year.

Assessment Report for 2013-2014 Academic Year

The 2013-2014 assessment report was presented at the October 2014 faculty meeting following a teaching workshop held during the September 2014 faculty meeting. The assessment team used a three-point scale to grade a representative sample of each of the classes, where 1 = Inadequate, 2 = Proficient, and 3 = Superior. As would be expected, the class averages rose from year to year, with the first-years averaging 1.96, the second-years 2.11, and the third-years (graduates) 2.21. The students are meeting the expected threshold of achievement by their second year and exceeding it by the third year.

Assessment Report for 2014-2015 Academic Year

In 2015, the assessment team used the same scale and again found that the graduating (third-year) class met the threshold of achievement with an average score of 2.31. The second-year class was nearing proficiency, with a score of 1.96, and the first-year class scored 1.63.

Additional Assessment Tools

The School of Divinity also assesses program outcomes by monitoring graduation rates and career placement statistics. Of the class graduating in 2014, 65% are currently employed in ministerial roles, including congregational and chaplaincy positions; 23% are employed in other fields of work, for example in public education as teachers or administrative roles in non-profits; and 12% are seeking permanent employment in their professional field. These data indicate that students meet hiring standards and educational requirements of potential employers in ministry contexts and are competitive as applicants for additional education beyond the MDiv and for diverse ministry jobs. The data indicate that students are meeting the expected threshold of achievement: ministerial positions are the usual outcome of a Master of Divinity degree, but the School also prepares students for a changing landscape in which more clergy are bi-vocational or exercise their skills in ministry in other roles.

Additional demographic data for each graduating class is collected through the Graduating Student Questionnaire 2013-2014, which is administered through the Association for Theological Schools. The Questionnaire provides information about student satisfaction with the degree program, debt load upon graduation, and job placement as well as comparison of the School of Divinity’s data with peer schools. The 2013-2014 ATS graduating student profile report indicated that students scored the school on the whole effective to very effective in facilitating skill areas, such as preaching, ability to use and interpret Scripture, and knowledge of church doctrine and history (ATS Graduating Student Educational Effectiveness Skills Development 2013-2014).

Graduate School

The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences effectively evaluates success with respect to student achievement consistent with its mission to train and mentor future leaders in research, teaching, and innovation for serving humanity (Graduate School Bulletin, p. 9).Regarding course completion, on the Reynolda Campus, a Graduate School staff member reviews the transcript of each student to ensure that all students about to graduate have fulfilled the course requirements for their degree. On the Bowman Gray Campus, a Graduate School staff member also checks this. Furthermore, a transcript is sent to the student’s advisor for confirmation that all courses required have been completed. No student is given a degree until the course requirements are met.Several individual programs assess student achievement through standardized tests. The Graduate Program in Chemistry, for example, administers standardized tests prepared and evaluated by the American Chemical Society. These five tests cover the disciplines of analytical, biological, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry. All entering students must pass four of these exams. Normally, a student will enroll in a semester-long course in the area and take the exam at the end. A passing grade is considered to be above the 50th percentile nationally. 100% of the entering graduate students in chemistry have achieved this goal over the past five years. Students who do not pass the exams, even after completing the semester-long course, may not continue in the program.

Similarly, over the past several years, the Education program has administered standardized tests developed by the Educational Testing Service to its students (the Praxis II tests). The program publishes its requirements to meet North Carolina Licensure levels. Again, the passing rate was 100%, which was above the state average. Similarly, the Counseling Program (both online and on campus) meets the requirements of an outside accreditation body. The School Counseling Program and the Clinical Mental Health Program are accredited by CACREP (Council on Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs) through October 2018. In January 2012, CACREP awarded accreditation to the Part-Time, Online Campus Delivery of the School Counseling and Clinical Mental Health Programs. Students attempting licensure exams in these programs enjoy a 100% success rate.

The 2013-14 Graduate School Annual Report for the Reynolda campus (Arts & Sciences) summarizes the findings from the exit survey given to graduating students (Tables 14-17, p. 23-31). These data tables show the Graduate School admission or job placement achieved by each individual Wake Forest University graduate. In total, 167 students completed this survey in 2013-2014. Of these 167 students, 83 master’s students went on to PhD programs, 55 master’s students took jobs, five doctoral students reported going to postdoctoral positions, six doctoral students took academic or business jobs, and three doctoral students chose to pursue additional degrees. The remaining 14 students listed their future plans in May 2014 as unknown. Six of the 167 students left prior to completing all of the requirements for graduation, and expect to graduate in 2015. Thus, in 2013-2014, 55% of the respondents sought additional education, 37% accepted jobs, and 8% were unknown. The overall graduation rate for the Reynolda campus (six years for the PhD and three years for the master’s degrees) was 78% for those expected to finish in 2013-2014. The average time to degree for the PhD was 5.3 years for those graduating in 2013-2014. For the MS degree the average time was 2.8 years, and 2.0 years was the average time for the MA.

The 2013-14 Graduate School Annual Report for the Bowman Gray campus (Biomedical Sciences) summarizes the findings from the exit survey given to graduating students (Tables 13-16, p. 16-20). These data tables show the Graduate School admission or job placement achieved by each individual Wake Forest University graduate. 64 graduating students completed this survey in 2013-2014, out of a total of 84 graduates. Of these 64 students, two master’s students went on to PhD programs, 19 master’s students took jobs, 19 doctoral students reported going to postdoctoral positions, 16 doctoral students took academic or business jobs, and two doctoral students chose to pursue additional degrees. The remaining six students listed their future plans (as of May 2014) as unknown. Thus, in 2013-2014, 36% of the respondents sought additional education, 55% accepted jobs, and 9% were unknown. The overall graduation rate for the Bowman Gray campus (six years for the PhD and three years for the master’s degrees) was 75% for those expected to finish in 2013-2014. The average time to degree for the PhD was 5.2 years for those graduating in 2013-2014. For the MS degree, the average time was 2.2 years.

School of Law

The School of Law evaluates student achievement as it pertains to its mission. Its mission states that the School “seeks to prepare our students for the practice of law in the United States.” With that comes “a responsibility to provide our students with a foundation of legal knowledge and skill upon which they can build lives of service within the legal profession” (Law School Mission).Because passing the state bar exam is a requirement for practicing law, one of the main criteria used to evaluate student success in the School of Law is bar exam passage rates. The Law School’s last ABA accreditation review was in 2008 (ABA Accreditation Decision, April 2009). As an ABA-accredited law school, the School of Law reports annually on its curriculum, program operations, and outcomes by completing an ABA annual questionnaire. This report includes a yearly analysis of the bar passage rates of Wake Forest School of Law graduates (ABA 2014 Annual Questionnaire, p. 9). The bar passage rate for graduates of the Wake Forest School of Law is consistently above the state average. In 2013, the Law School’s weighted average school pass percentage was 80.1%, while the state average was 73.7%. The school closely monitors these rates and focuses many of its efforts on increasing the bar passage rates of its graduates from year to year.The School of Law is also required by the ABA to disclose standardized and detailed employment statistics. These statistics are another measure of student success in achieving the goal for graduates to practice law in the United States (Employment Statistics). While employment for new graduates in full-time, long-term positions continues to be challenging in the wake of the economic downturn, graduates in the Class of 2012 experienced some good progress, with long-term, full-time employment increasing from 69.6% in 2011 to 78.2% in 2012. Unfortunately, the Class of 2013 did not realize the same gains and actually fell back to 2011 levels. The School has implemented many enhancements to bolster positive progress in graduate employment rates, including a new Professional Development class in 2013, fellowships, and a campaign to promote hiring graduates within the School’s alumni network.

School of Medicine

Consistent with the mission of the WFSM to train leaders in healthcare and biomedical science, the Office of Medical Education monitors student achievement and performance throughout the medical school.

Doctorate of Medicine (MD)

The success of graduating students in placement for residency training is monitored and published annually (Faculty Executive Council Minutes May 2014, p. 16). The Office of Medical Education conducts a survey of residency program directors to monitor the performance of WFSM graduates after their first year in post-graduate training (Class of 2013 Survey). Overall, programs directors were very satisfied with the performance of WFSM graduates, rating them a 5.17 on overall performance on a scale from 0-6 points. Over the past five years, 90-98% of the entering class has graduated.

The Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum Committee and the Faculty Executive Council monitor student performance on the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). The percent pass rate for WFSM first-time takers of USMLE Step 1 has been consistently above the national mean over the past five years (see Table 1, below); the mean has been within three points of the national average. The percent pass rate for WFSM first-time takers of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge has been consistently above the national mean over the past five years (see Table 2, below); the mean has consistently been six to eight points above the national average. The percent pass rate for WFSM first-time takers of USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills has been within one percentage point or above the national mean over the past five years (see Table 3, below). Furthermore, all students who have entered the National Resident Matching Program have been very successful in obtaining residency positions (see Table 4, below).

Table 1. USMLE Step 1 – First Time Examinee

  WFSM  US & Canadian Medical Schools
Academic Year 1st time Pass Rate Mean (SD) 1st time Pass Rate Mean (SD)
2010 92% 221 (21)  91% 222 (24)
2011 94%  221 (20)   94% 224 (20)
2012 99%  228 (19)   95%  227 (22)
2013  97%  229 (21)   96%  228 (21)
2014  95% 233 (21) unavailable

 

Table 2. USMLE Step 2 Clinical Knowledge – First Time Examinee

WFSM US & Canadian Medical Schools
Academic Year 1st time Pass Rate Mean (SD) 1st time Pass Rate Mean (SD)
2009 99% 237 (21) 97% 230 (23)
2010 100% 241 (18) 97% 233 (22)
2011 99% 243 (18) 98% 237 (21)
2012 99% 245 (18) 98% 238 (19)
2013  98%  247 (17) 97%  240 (18)

 

Table 3. USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills – First Time Examinee

WFSM US & Canadian Medical Schools
Academic Year 1st time Pass Rate 1st time Pass Rate
2009 98% 97%
2010 97% 98%
2011  98% 97%
2012  99% 98%
2013  98% 96%

 

Table 4. Match Results for MS2010 through MS2014

Class Total in the match Matched (%) Unmatched Matched in SOAP* Did not match Other
MS2010  115 109 (94.78%) 6 6
MS2011  118 108 (91.53%)  10  10
MS2012  113 107 (94.69%)  6  6
MS2013  126 117 (92.86%)  9  8  1
MS2014  116 112 (96.55%)  4  3  1 chose to pursue research

*SOAP = National Resident Matching Program’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program

 

Physician Assistant (PA) Program

The PA Program evaluates success with respect to student achievement consistent with its mission to produce highly capable, compassionate physician assistants who make significant contributions to the health care community. The Department of Physician Assistant Studies documents successful student achievement in relation to its mission by the number of students who pass the Physician Assistant National Certification Exam (PANCE) the first time they take it. Since 2010, the percent pass rate for PA Program first-time takers of the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE) has been within two percentage points or above the national first-time pass rate (see Table 5, below). In recent years, 97% of the PA Program’s entering class has graduated. The Program also tracks the number of graduates who gain employment as a PA following graduation. Alumni Affairs provides information on the employment status of graduates.

Table 5. PANCE  Pass Rates – First Time Examine

WFSM US National Average
Academic Year 1st time Pass Rate 1st time Pass Rate
2009 87% 92%
2010 94% 94%
 2011  98% 91%
 2012  91% 93%
 2013  94% 94%
2014 100% Available in 2015

Five-year First Time Examinee Pass Rate for Program (2009-2013): 94%
Five-year National First Time Examinee Pass Rate (2009-2013): 93%

Nurse Anesthesia Program (NAP)

The achievement of students at the Nurse Anesthesia Program (NAP) is gauged by successful completion of the National Certification Examination (NCE) administered by the National Board for Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) following graduation from the program. The NAP has maintained excellent pass rates on this certifying examination, and the pass rates are published and updated annually on the program website (See NAP webpage, paragraph 6, highlighted text). The mandatory threshold pass rate of the Council for Accreditation for Nurse Anesthesia Programs (COA) for first-time takers as defined in the policy is 80% of a composite of the previous five years’ national CCNA pass rate for first-time takers. In 2011 the mandatory threshold was 71%. As demonstrated in the Evaluation Committee Minutes, p.10, for the graduating class of 2013, the certification examination pass rate for first-time takers was 100%, and employment of graduates within the first six months of graduation was 100%.

In addition, the NAP collects graduate surveys during the first and third years post-graduation from both graduates and their respective employers. These are presented to the Committee for Evaluation of the Program, and the committee determines strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities to improve student and graduate achievement (see Committee for Evaluation of the Program meeting minutes, 12/3/13).

School of Business

The Wake Forest School of Business has a performance-based culture. As such, the School identifies expected outcomes for its educational programs, assesses achievement of those outcomes, and is responsive to under-performance against targeted outcomes while simultaneously pursuing continuous improvement in its programs. Relative to student achievement outcomes, the School places primary emphasis upon learning outcomes as it pursues its mission to help businesses create a better world through developing passionate, ethical business leaders who get results with integrity, and thought leadership that is visible and positively impacts the practice of business. It is through a focus on learning outcomes that the School attends to its commitment to produce responsible and impactful members of society. At the same time, the School believes it has an obligation to each of its students to facilitate achievement of first destination outcomes, which translates as corporate employment for the majority of graduates. Finally, the School is committed to achieving on-time graduation across all its programs; given the real and opportunity costs associated with higher education, the School believes it has a moral obligation to shepherd students to the successful completion of degrees in reliably predictable time frames. These, then, are the primary indicators of student achievement within the School of Business: (1) learning outcomes, (2) employment outcomes, and (3) on-time graduation. Each is addressed in turn below.

Learning Outcomes

Assessment of learning outcomes across all degree programs occurs principally within credit-granting courses. The course within which a specific learning outcome is to be assessed is determined on a five-year planning window. For example, it is predetermined that written communication skills within the undergraduate program will be assessed in the introductory financial accounting course for the next five years. A sampling plan also is predetermined such that each learning outcome is assessed a minimum of twice during the five-year window. While not every learning outcome is assessed every year in a given program, no degree program is to be without some form of assessment during any given year. For all targeted learning outcomes across all programs, an 80% learning outcome threshold exists; that is, if a learning outcome assessment shows that less than 80% of assessed students met or exceeded the targeted learning outcome, then the program is required to (1) “close the loop” with an appropriate curricular and/or instructional response, and (2) re-assess this learning outcome at the next offering of the course within which the assessment is performed (often the following semester, but for those courses offered only once per year, the next assessment may be the following academic year). Redesign and re-assessment continues until the learning outcome shortfall is remedied.

Because the School of Business is strongly program-centric, targeted learning outcomes exist on a program-by-program basis. Targeted learning outcomes, together with assessment results, are presented below for each degree program in the School. (Note: Although the undergraduate business program offers four majors, all students in the undergraduate program complete the same core business curriculum where all targeted learning outcomes are addressed consistently across the entire undergraduate business student population.)

Undergraduate Business

The undergraduate program has six targeted learning outcomes (each with sub-learning goals). These learning outcomes reflect appropriate levels of mastery for an undergraduate population and, as will be seen in a comparison with the goals within the graduate programs, are therefore at a somewhat lower level of technical and/or practical mastery. Learning outcome results for the most recent two academic years can be seen in Undergraduate Learning Outcomes.

Within the most recent two academic years, there have been no shortfalls in learning outcomes.

Graduate Business

The School of Business offers three graduate business degrees (Master of Arts in Management, Full-time MBA and Working Professional MBA), each with distinct student profiles. The variance across those student profiles means that targeted learning outcomes require some degree of tailoring to the audience. At the same time, the School believes that there should be a high degree of consistency across targeted learning outcomes across its graduate business programs. That is, a “graduate business degree” should carry with it implications for learning outcomes regardless of degree program. The School therefore employs a superordinate set of learning outcomes for its graduate business programs from which each of the three graduate business programs selects and operationalizes those most appropriate to its student audience and talent marketplace. That superordinate set of learning outcomes consists of seven targeted learning outcomes (each with sub-learning goals).

While degree programs have latitude in selection and operationalization of these learning outcomes in their contexts, a high degree of consistency in the set of selected learning outcomes/sub-learning goals is expected across programs. As can be seen in the assessment outcomes for these degree programs, a very high degree of consistency does in fact exist. Learning outcome results for the most recent two academic years can be seen in MA in Management Learning Outcomes.PDF, Working Professional MBA Learning Outcomes.PDF, and Full-time MBA Learning Outcomes.PDF. Note that all learning objectives were assessed in the Full-time MBA program in the 2013-2014 academic year in preparation for a planned major curriculum renewal effort. Note, too, that learning outcome data for the working professional MBA program is presented “by semester” rather than annually, owing to the staggered start times (months) for the three delivery modes associated with that program (Winston-Salem Evening, Charlotte Evening and Charlotte Saturday). Within the most recent two academic years, there have been 11 instances in which the 80% learning outcome threshold was not met.

Accounting

The accounting program, which consists of both the undergraduate and graduate (Master of Science) curricula, operates with a distinct set of learning objectives tailored to preparation for the accounting profession. (It should be noted, too, that the accounting program is subject to separate accreditation by the AACSB, further highlighting the distinction between accounting and business.) The accounting program has three broad targeted learning outcomes, with a total of 12 assessed learning objectives.

Learning outcome results for the most recent two academic years can be seen in MSA Learning Outcomes. Within the most recent two academic years, there have been two instances in which the 80% learning outcome threshold was not met.

Employment Outcomes

As noted earlier, the School of Business takes very seriously its commitment to facilitating students in their quest to achieve their desired first destination outcomes. Dedicated market readiness and employment (MRE) staff members exist within each degree program, and an MRE Center of Excellence provides thought leadership and one-off project support to the entire School of Business. Both MRE resources represent a significant personnel and financial commitment, for which the School expects to see strong employment/first destination results.

Goals for first destination/employment outcomes are set annually for each degree program in the School of Business. Results are tracked and feed into staff performance assessments for MRE staff members. Results have been encouraging in the most recent two years (see Employment Outcomes.PDF). (Note that employment outcomes for the working professional MBA students are 100% as these students are employed throughout their degree program experience.) Future activity by the MRE staff members is extending into formal corporate partnerships to enhance both efficiency and effectiveness of the MRE activity.

On-Time Graduation

On-time graduation represents another serious commitment the School of Business makes to students. Close counseling and tracking of all students across all degree programs contributes to strong on-time graduation performance (see On-Time Graduation.PDF). While bright line thresholds are not set for on-time graduation, graduation rate data are reviewed annually with any anomalies triggering analyses and appropriate action. In the most recent two-year window, there have been no serious concerns regarding on-time graduation in any School of Business degree program.