Senior assessments cap off students’ college career

Story, photos and video by Jim Tully, NewsNetNebraska

Even after four-plus years of intro classes, advanced classes, midterms, finals, late-night study sessions, all-day study sessions, weight gain, weight loss, stress, stress and more stress, many seniors find that they still aren’t done with college.

Many colleges at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln require students to complete a senior assessment course before they can graduate.

For the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, the purpose of the assessment is to help the academic program by assessing student work.

“We compile the results of assessments every semester and have used trends we see there to help us revise and shape our curriculum,” said Charlyne Berens, associate dean of the college.  “As fast as the mass media are changing, we need as much input as we can get to help us keep our curriculum current.”

In order to complete the assessment, journalism students must complete a list of tasks, including a career-path quiz that is designed to match students’ interests with a professional who can review their work.

Andersen Hall houses the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Next, students must put together an electronic portfolio that includes some of their best work from their college careers.  Students get professional feedback on these portfolios throughout the semester.

“These files are sent to working professionals for their comments to come back to the school,” said Michael Goff, advising coordinator at the college. “We want those working pros to look at (the assessments) and tell us if they have any suggestions on what we ought to do with the overall program to get a better product.”

Finally, students are asked to complete an exit survey to cap it all off.

Video: Students debate and pros and cons of senior assessments.


Most colleges at UNL do some sort of senior assessment; however, the journalism college has one of the most comprehensive.  The College of Business Administration, on the other hand, has a “major field test” that examines students’ knowledge in the field.  Students must pass this test in order to graduate.

Assessments from the College of Business Administration are sent to an accrediting organization called the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

The information gleaned from the test is used by CBA in its accreditation reports for the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, a global, nonprofit organization of educational institutions, businesses and other entities who want to advance management education.

In addition to the field test, business students are assigned an essay and two surveys.

“A sampling of the writing essay is evaluated by the writing lab coordinator,” said Jan Hime, instructional technology director in the College of Business Administration.  “The two surveys are not evaluated.”

While students have mixed emotions about the senior assessments, administrators said they are here to stay.

“Some students will blow it off and turn in some junk,” Goff said.  “The smart ones actually put in some really good stuff.”

And for those students, there’s often a big bonus, Goff said.

“Usually there are three or four job offers that will come out of these every semester.”

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