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Program Assessment at the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work

The School of Social Work has a well-established culture of evaluating student outcomes and continually assessing, evaluating, and improving our students’ educational experience. Throughout the year, we ask our students, agency supervisors, and other stakeholders to give feedback on many aspects of the School (e.g., advisement services, field program, and agency‐school relations).

The data obtained are reviewed by various committees, recommendations are formed and shared, and the resulting changes are implemented in both the explicit (classroom and field), and implicit (the environment in which the explicit curriculum is presented) curricula.

In this section, you can review:

  • The results from the 2019-2020 student learning outcomes for the BSW program and MSW programs (MSW full-time program, MSW part-time program in Madison, and MSW part-time program in Eau Claire), indicating the percent of students meeting designated “benchmarks” for each program.
  • The areas our faculty have targeted for review/improvement based on the findings.
  • How our students’ first-time pass rate compares to the entire population of graduates taking the National Social Work Exam.

BSW and MSW Core Competencies and Learning Outcomes

Professional Social Work education at UW-Madison concerns itself with preparing highly competent, well-trained social work practitioners at the baccalaureate level (BSW) and master’s level (MSW). Our programs at UW Madison are accredited by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), which articulates the core competencies (and learning outcomes) for both generalist practice and advanced generalist practice in CSWE’s Educational and Policy Accreditation Standards (EPAS).

All Council on Social Work Education programs measure and report student learning outcomes. Students are assessed on their mastery of the competencies that comprise the accreditation standards of the Council on Social Work Education. These competencies are dimensions of social work practice that all social workers are expected to master during their professional training. Students must demonstrate mastery of generalist practice and advanced generalist practice using two different measures for each competency.

Also, a measurement benchmark is set by social work programs for each competency. An assessment score at or above that benchmark is considered by the program to represent mastery of that particular competency.

In the BSW program, the focus is on preparing students for generalist practice through their mastery of 9 core competencies that encompass social work knowledge, values, skills, and cognitive and affective processes as well as demonstrating integration of these components in concomitant learned professional behaviors.

The MSW program prepares graduates for advanced practice through mastery of the nine generalist competencies and related professional behaviors as well as mastery of a set of advanced generalist specialization competencies and behaviors delivered in the context of an area of focus. Our areas of focus are:

  • Aging;
  • Child, Youth, and Family Welfare;
  • Health;
  • Joint Aging and Health (Part-Time MSW Program Only); or
  • Mental Health

Student Learning Outcomes and Benchmarks

To measure and report on student learning outcomes, the UW-Madison School of Social Work assesses two dimensions of social work practice, knowledge and skills, to identify BSW and MSW students’ mastery of the nine CSWE EPAS competencies. Each dimension is assessed with a different measure:

  • Knowledge: The first measure gauges students’ competency-based knowledge gained through coursework and field seminar. We use a survey we refer to as the Competency Assessment for Program Evaluation (CAPE). We have set a benchmark of 75% accuracy for the demonstration of knowledge mastery in relation to each competency in the BSW and all MSW programs.
  • Skills: The second measure, the field evaluation, captures students’ demonstration of skills in their field work in relation to each competency. We have set a benchmark of 3.0 on a 5-point rating scale for the demonstration of skills mastery in relation to each competency in the BSW and MSW programs.

The rates of students who meet our benchmark for each of the abovementioned measures are aggregated for an overall “passing rate” for each competency in each program. Our designated benchmark rate for the passing rates in the BSW and all MSW programs is 82%. If the aggregate passing rate meets or exceeds 82%, we consider the program as successful in the particular competency area. Where passing rates fall short of the benchmark, the primary agenda for faculty centers on finding ways to improve our curriculum or other pertinent areas in our programs.

Summary of the Program’s BSW Assessment Plan

Assessment Measure #1: Generalist Competency Assessment for Program Evaluation (CAPE)
Dimension(s) assessed: Knowledge
When/where students are assessed: Assessment is given to students at the end of the spring semester online
Who assessed student competence: Chair of the Assessment and Outcomes Committee
Outcome Measure Benchmark (minimum score indicative of achievement) for Competencies 1-9: 75%
Competency Benchmark (percent of students the program expects to have achieved the minimum scores, inclusive of all measures) for Competencies 1-9: 82%
Assessment Measure #2: Field Evaluation
Dimension(s) assessed: Skills
When/where students are assessed: End of the spring semester, in field placement
Who assessed student competence: Field Faculty
Outcome Measure Benchmark (minimum score indicative of achievement) for Competencies 1-9: 3.0 out of 5.0
Competency Benchmark (percent of students the program expects to have achieved the minimum scores, inclusive of all measures) for Competencies 1-9: 82%

Summary of the Program’s MSW Assessment Plan | Generalist Practice

Assessment Measure #1: Generalist Competency Assessment for Program Evaluation (CAPE)
Dimension(s) assessed: Knowledge
When/where students are assessed: Assessment is given to students at the end of the spring semester online
Who assessed student competence: Chair of the Assessment and Outcomes Committee
Outcome Measure Benchmark (minimum score indicative of achievement) for Competencies 1-9: 75%
Competency Benchmark (percent of students the program expects to have achieved the minimum scores, inclusive of all measures) for Competencies 1-9: 82%
Assessment Measure #2: Field Evaluation
Dimension(s) assessed: Skills
When/where students are assessed: End of the spring semester, in field placement
Who assessed student competence: Field Faculty
Outcome Measure Benchmark (minimum score indicative of achievement) for Competencies 1-9: 3.0 out of 5.0
Competency Benchmark (percent of students the program expects to have achieved the minimum scores, inclusive of all measures) for Competencies 1-9: 82%

Summary of the Program’s Assessment Plan | Specialized Practice

Area of Specialized Practice: Advanced Generalist Specialization

Assessment Measure #1: Advanced Generalist Competency Assessment for Program Evaluation (CAPE)
Dimension(s) assessed: Knowledge
When/where students are assessed: Assessment is given to students at the end of the spring semester online
Who assessed student competence: Chair of the Assessment and Outcomes Committee
Outcome Measure Benchmark (minimum score indicative of achievement) for Competencies 1-9: 75%
Competency Benchmark (percent of students the program expects to have achieved the minimum scores, inclusive of all measures) for Competencies 1-9: 82%
Assessment Measure #2: Field Evaluation
Dimension(s) assessed: Skills
When/where students are assessed: End of the spring semester, in field placement
Who assessed student competence: Field Faculty
Outcome Measure Benchmark (minimum score indicative of achievement) for Competencies 1-9: 3.0 out of 5.0
Competency Benchmark (percent of students the program expects to have achieved the minimum scores, inclusive of all measures) for Competencies 1-9: 82%

How Well Did We Do With Our Programs?

Very well! Overall, in 2019-20 BSW and MSW students met our benchmarks for the achievement of generalist and advanced generalist practice competencies across all programs, with a few exceptions.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES
Assessment Data Collected during the Academic Year (2019-2020):
BSW Program

COMPETENCY COMPETENCY BENCHMARK (%) FOR GENERALIST PRACTICE PERCENTAGE OF BSW STUDENTS ACHIEVING BENCHMARK
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior 82% 89.6%
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice 82% 85.1%
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice 82% 90.7%
Competency 4: Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice 82% 88.2%
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice 82% 77.4%
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 87.1%
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 89.5%
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 89.0%
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 74.7%

Assessment Data Collected during the Academic Year (2019-2020):
MSW Full Time Program

COMPETENCY COMPETENCY BENCHMARK (%) FOR GENERALIST AND ADVANCED GENERALIST PRACTICE PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS ACHIEVING BENCHMARK
GENERALIST PRACTICE:
(n = 29)
ADVANCED GENERALIST PRACTICE :
(n = 84)
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior 82% 89.6% 91.8%
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice 82% 85.1% 88.6%
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice 82% 90.7% 88.7%
Competency 4: Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice 82% 88.2% 85.6%
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice 82% 77.4% 82.7%
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 87.1% 90.1%
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 89.5% 88.6%
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 89.0% 88.3%
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 74.7% 85.9%

Assessment Data Collected during the Academic Year (2019-2020):
MSW Part-Time Program in Madison

COMPETENCY COMPETENCY BENCHMARK (%) FOR GENERALIST AND ADVANCED GENERALIST PRACTICE PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS ACHIEVING BENCHMARK
GENERALIST PRACTICE:
(n = 28)
ADVANCED GENERALIST PRACTICE:
(n =46)
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior 82% 91.4% 91.2%
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice 82% 88.8% 89.9%
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice 82% 87.0% 85.1%
Competency 4: Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice 82% 86.0% 85.2%
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice 82% 77.0% 83.2%
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 90.1% 89.7%
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 84.8% 87.5%
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 87.2% 87.6%
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 72.4% 85.0%

Assessment Data Collected during the Academic Year (2019-2020):
MSW Part-Time Program in Eau Claire

COMPETENCY COMPETENCY BENCHMARK (%) FOR GENERALIST AND ADVANCED GENERALIST PRACTICE PERCENTAGE OF STUDENTS ACHIEVING BENCHMARK
GENERALIST PRACTICE:
(n = 4)
ADVANCED GENERALIST PRACTICE :
(n =18)
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior 82% 86.5% 85.7%
Competency 2: Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice 82% 91.3% 89.3%
Competency 3: Advance Human Rights and Social, Economic, and Environmental Justice 82% 87.5% 85.9%
Competency 4: Engage in Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice 82% 95.8% 84.6%
Competency 5: Engage in Policy Practice 82% 88.3% 74.8%*
Competency 6: Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 98.8% 91.7%
Competency 7: Assess Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 90.0% 83.5%
Competency 8: Intervene with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 94.0% 86.0%
Competency 9: Evaluate Practice with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities 82% 78.8%* 85.8%

Areas of competence in our programs where students did not consistently meet our benchmark include engagement in policy practice (Competency 5) and evaluation of practice (Competency 9)—particularly in our generalist practice level. By and large, advanced generalist practice students performed above benchmark in these areas. Faculty committees and designated staff at the School will be considering ways to increase the quality of our academic and professional training in policy practice and evaluation in the coming year.

For More Information

If you have questions or suggestions regarding data on student learning outcomes, please email Associate Professor Tally Moses at moses@wisc.edu.

National Social Work Exam Scores

Another indicator of student success involves looking at passage rates of the national social work exam by UW-Madison students in comparison to the social work students in all other programs in the country who take this test. As you can see in the graphs below, our students’ passing rates on the national social work exam exceed the national average for these tests by at least 20%.

Graph describing the last three years of ASWB exam results