Columbia College–Lake County measures success

Final exams, research papers and group presentations — each of these provides your instructor with a method for assessing how much you have learned in his or her class. As a result, you receive a grade that dictates your GPA and compares you, academically, to your fellow students. But how do you know how well you measure up against students at other schools across the country? How can you rank yourself against more than 100,000 students in more than 600 colleges across the country? The answer: the Major Field Test.

Columbia College is committed to assessment, and part of our efforts to evaluate the effectiveness of our bachelor’s degree programs is to require all seniors in their culminating experience course to take this exam. A nationally normed exam developed by the Educational Testing Service, the Major Field Test allows schools to measure how well they have educated their students. It also affords students the opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of their discipline. Recently, a group of students at the Lake County, Ill., campus did just that!

Nineteen students took the culminating experience class for the Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice this spring.  Of those 19, 15 scored above the national mean and median. Of those 15, seven scored in the 80th percentile or above, and one student made it into the 95th percentile. In case you are unfamiliar with some of the statistical jargon in the previous statements, scoring in the 95th percentile means this student outperformed 95 percent of the students who took this exam. Simply scoring above the mean, or average, score is an impressive feat, but those students who were in the 80th percentile or above truly did an outstanding job. “These scores reflect not only the excellent quality of instruction in our criminal justice program, but the hard work and dedication of these students,” said Stephen Stephany, Lake County Campus Director. “Both our students and their instructors should be very proud!”

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