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JMU social-work program honored

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation has recognized James Madison University’s social work program with a 2011 Award for Outstanding Institutional Practice in Student Learning Outcomes.

The program was cited for success in developing, applying and maintaining evidence of student-learning outcomes as a part of ongoing efforts to evaluate and improve the program of study. The program’s senior assessment is competency-based and includes a written comprehensive exam, a comprehensive oral exam and a field practicum/internship evaluation.

JMU’s social work program was one of four programs selected for the 2011 award. There were 32 applications for this year’s award. Each applicant was judged on the basis of four award criteria: articulation and evidence of outcomes, success with regard to outcomes, information to the public about outcomes and use of outcomes for educational improvement.

Established in 1962, JMU’s social work program has been accredited by the Council on Social Work Education since 1977.

According to a CHEA news release, “James Madison University’s Social Work Program prepares generalist social workers who will work with and provide service to diverse individuals, families, communities and organizations.” The program was commended for its consistent record of strong program assessment centered on multiple methods of evaluating student learning in light of stringent social work profession and accreditation criteria.

“The social work program’s ability to achieve and maintain high-quality assessment is due to its partnership with the JMU Center for Assessment and Research Studies and the hard and dedicated work of the social work faculty,” said R. Ann Myers, professor and head of the Department of Social Work. “Excellence in assessment is an ongoing process positively impacting the curriculum as well as teaching and learning strategies.”

“By attending department meetings through my position on the Student Advisory Committee, I witness firsthand the effort each and every staff member puts in to making the program the best it can be based on feedback received from students,” Sarah Pike, a senior social work student, said.

CHEA is an association of approximately 3,000 degree-granting colleges and universities and recognizes institutional and programmatic accrediting organizations. The CHEA Award was established in 2005 to recognize institutions that have been exceptional in developing and applying evidence of student-learning outcomes to improve higher education quality and accountability.

The program was also the first recipient of the James Madison University Provost’s Excellence Award for Assessment.