Year of Publication
Martin School of Public Policy and Administration
Accountability is required for programs to maintain accreditation and is essential to the overall success of graduate programs like the Martin School. To show that it is meeting the stated goals, the Martin School has put tracking measures in place to gauge the success of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. These measures include pre and post skills assessments and an alumni survey among others. Analysis of the results is used to determine where goals are being met as well as areas where improvement is possible, and make necessary and appropriate adjustments.
The pre-test is given at orientation and the post-test is given during the capstone course. Students are asked to rate their skill level in several areas, then asked to do the same at the end of the program. These tools can be used to determine how helpful students have found the curriculum in giving them the skills necessary for success in the workforce.
Another mechanism for assessment is the alumni survey. The instrument asks alumni a number of questions regarding their experience at the Martin School and how this education has or has not helped in their professional lives. The data from this survey may be useful in determining weaknesses graduates see in the program in terms of professional development.
The final method for assessing the program is through a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis which is conducted during the capstone course. Students are asked to critically evaluate the MPA program and complete the SWOT matrix. Responses are combined and examined by the Martin School.
This paper primarily deals with analysis of the data obtained by the skills assessment and alumni survey, but also examines the assessment tools themselves. Recommendations have been made regarding possible adjustments to the program and changes to the assessment tools. Several general statements can be made from the data collected. First, the data shows that the Martin School has been successful in increasing the confidence level of its students in all of the 19 areas currently measured. Second, the data from the alumni survey shows a general satisfaction with the education provided by the Martin School. Finally, the information gathered through the SWOT analysis mirrors, in large part, the results obtained from the alumni survey.
With respect to the assessment tools, the combination of surveys of various stakeholders, including alumni and internship supervisors, SWOT analysis and the pre/post testing appears to be gathering the information desired by the Martin School. While the language on some of the tools could be improved and the tools could be changed to better align with one another, drastic changes are not needed.
Schneider, Natalie, "Accountability in Public Administration Education: Assessing the Martin School" (2005). MPA/MPP/MPFM Capstone Projects. 207.