Report Card — 2016

We at the UA School of Journalism believe in holding students accountable, and teaching journalists how to hold government accountable, so we should hold ourselves accountable!

Self-assessment is paramount for improvement. It’s also an essential element to remaining one of the 100 or so journalism programs in the nation accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. On this page we provide quantifiable measurements of school performance, and what we are doing to improve in our goal of educating the world’s best journalists to best serve Arizona and society at large.

The school adopted its first assessment plan in 1999 and updated it in 2004 and then again in 2011. The goal is to figure out whether students are leaving the program prepared for the workplace and competent in the school's 10 core student learning outcomes, which are based on ACEJMC 12 Professional Values and Competencies. Students, parents and the public must know that their tax and tuition dollars are making a difference. The school employs quantitative and qualitative assessment indicators, both direct and indirect, of student learning (see the assessment plan). Below are some of the indicators of the school’s performance. If you have any questions or suggestions, please let us know!

David Cuillier, Ph.D., director,
July 1, 2016

1. Enrollment aligning

Undergraduate enrollment has gradually dropped over the past 10 years in an effort to align school resources with students - to make sure students receive the attention they deserve with a good faculty-to-student ratio. We have done this through implementing pre-req requirements. Also, some decline in majors has been experienced by journalism programs nationwide, roughly by about 3 percent per year. This is OK. We believe in focusing on excellence rather than being large. As a result, the school is large enough to support resources and special electives/specialties for students, yet small enough so students receive individualized attention by world-class faculty.

• Recorded beginning of fall semester on census day — September
• Includes pre-majors
• Counts double majors as one major 

2. Retention rates — most students stay

This is an indicator of whether incoming freshmen tend to stay with the major or switch to another major by their second year. Most stay. Our analysis indicates that some of our entering majors tend to move out to other majors by their sophomore year, more so than other parts of campus, as opposed to being a major that attracts students who switch to us from other programs.

Note: Incoming transfer students are not included in the number/percentages above.

3. Graduation rates higher than university's

Below are the percentages of freshman journalism students who graduate within four years and within six years, compared to the University of Arizona as a whole. The school’s graduation rates generally reflect the university’s rates, slightly increasing over the past few years. This is good for students. If students follow course advising and start early they can finish on time.

4. Students graduate with greater journalism knowledge

The school administers a multiple-choice test to pre-majors as they come into the major (Journalism 105) and in their capstone school media courses, typically for seniors. Below is a comparison, showing the better scores of seniors compared to pre-majors for a variety of categories, including ethics, numeracy, writing, media law and the role of the press in society.

Multiple-choice test

5. Students leave the school better writers

The school tests beginning students’ writing ability (in Journalism 205) and compares it to the writing ability of those in senior school media courses. Students write a story based on provided notes and a panel of judges rates the stories based on several criteria. During the past three years we have seen marked improvement in writing ability and critical thinking. In 2012-13 we noticed poor scores in numeracy and accuracy, so we increased the attention to math for journalists in the curriculum. By 2014-15 the scores had tripled.

Critiqued on a scale of 1-5, with 1 indicating "auto fail" and 5 indicating "mastery" (2012-13 was just spring semester)

6. Students leave the school more comfortable with technology

The school wants to make sure students are prepared to cope with increasing technology in the workplace, and has implemented several classes to address multimedia, video editing, data visualization and other skills. Students are required to take a class in photojournalism and another class in multimedia. Surveys of technological comfort in spring 2015 show that those in senior school media courses are much more comfortable with technology than pre-majors, particularly in using social media, blogging, sound recording, photography, Photoshop, pagination, Final Cut Pro, mobile apps and other skills.

7. Employers increasingly satisfied with UA journalism interns

The school initiated several steps to make sure students are well-prepared for the job market and get the practical on-the-job experience they need. This included developing an “apprentice” class in 2007 with the local newspaper. The school hired an internship coordinator in 2007 to help prepare students for the workplace. Intern supervisors rate the interns and those ratings have continued to increase annually.

8. Average GPA of journalism students higher than university as a whole

In 2006, the school implemented a minimum GPA of 2.5 to become a major, which was a little higher than the standard for remaining at the university (2.0), but still lower than required GPA levels of some campus units. As a result, the average GPA of journalism majors has steadily increased, from 2.99 in 2006, to 3.16 in 2016. The university average is 2.96.