Public accountability data

Public accountability data

 

The Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture (called the School of Mass Communications prior to Jan. 18, 2014) at Virginia Commonwealth University is among 114 programs at colleges and universities in the United States and abroad accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. The ACEJMC requires accredited programs to post their retention and graduation data. In July 2014, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Office of Planning and Decision Support provided these statistics [the link will open in a new window, because the chart is very wide] for the Robertson School. The data track each first-year (freshman) class of mass comm majors. The statistics show the percentage of students who continue in mass comm each year and then graduate within four, five or six years.

Here is another way to present the data, by focusing on each first-year class one at a time:

Fall 2005: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 164
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 55 (33.5%)
Retained 1 year 65.2%
Retained 2 years 45.1%
Retained 3 years 39.0%
Graduated in 4 years or less 20.7%
Graduated in 5 years or less 29.3%
Graduated in 6 years or less 29.9%

Fall 2006: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 153
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 38 (24.8%)
Retained 1 year 80.4%
Retained 2 years 60.1%
Retained 3 years 53.6%
Graduated in 4 years or less 35.9%
Graduated in 5 years or less 40.5%
Graduated in 6 years or less 43.8%

Fall 2007: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 161
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 51
(31.7%)
Retained 1 year 72.7%
Retained 2 years 54.0%
Retained 3 years 51.6%
Graduated in 4 years or less 29.8%
Graduated in 5 years or less 36.6%
Graduated in 6 years or less 41.0%

Fall 2008: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 180
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 58
(32.2%)
Retained 1 year 67.2%
Retained 2 years 50.3%
Retained 3 years 44.1%
Graduated in 4 years or less 27.4%
Graduated in 5 years or less 35.2%
Graduated in 6 years or less 36.9%

Fall 2009: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 157
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 41 (26.1%)
Retained 1 year 74.5%
Retained 2 years 63.1%
Retained 3 years 56.1%
Graduated in 4 years or less 45.9%
Graduated in 5 years or less 51.0%
Graduated in 6 years or less

Fall 2010: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 127
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 34 (26.8%)
Retained 1 year 68.5%
Retained 2 years 55.1%
Retained 3 years 48.0%
Graduated in 4 years or less 35.4%
Graduated in 5 years or less
Graduated in 6 years or less

Fall 2011: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 136
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 19 (14.0%)
Retained 1 year 73.5%
Retained 2 years 61.8%
Retained 3 years
Graduated in 4 years or less
Graduated in 5 years or less
Graduated in 6 years or less

Fall 2012: First-Time Full-Time Mass Communications Majors
Original cohort 116
Changed majors (any time after their first semester) 14 (12.1%)
Retained 1 year 80.2%
Retained 2 years
Retained 3 years
Graduated in 4 years or less
Graduated in 5 years or less
Graduated in 6 years or less

One wrinkle in the reporting method used in the statistics above is how it treats first-year students who start in mass comm but then change majors. The graduation rates above reflect the fact that these students do not graduate as mass comm majors — which is true. However, many, if not most of these students, do graduate from VCU, but in another discipline. Our reported graduation rates would be much higher if we tracked only students who start and stay as mass comm majors. According to the above data, for example, 110 first-year students entered the mass comm major in Fall 2007 and remained in that major during their time at VCU. Sixty percent of them graduated within six years — which is about the same as VCU’s six-year graduation rate.

Another wrinkle is that the data do not include students who enter the Robertson School after their first year from other VCU majors or from other universities. The Robertson School serves hundreds of such students. This is why the number of bachelor’s degrees we award each year far exceeds the number of first-year students majoring in mass comm:

Academic year 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14*
Bachelor’s degrees awarded 207 219 253 234 269 300

* Degrees awarded for 2013-14 are preliminary and not to be used as official numbers.

The number of mass comm majors at VCU has increased in recent years:

Fall 2008 Fall 2009 Fall 2010 Fall 2011 Fall 2012 Fall 2013
First-year mass comm majors 180 158 127 137 118 122
Transfer students enrolled in mass comm 102 110 106 129 116 132
Total undergraduate enrollment 1,199 1,232 1,196 1,226 1,260 1,270

In addition, the Robertson School serves more than 100 undergraduates pursuing a minor in media studies. Moreover, the school’s faculty also serves students in two master’s programs (Strategic Public Relations and Multimedia Journalism) and an interdisciplinary doctoral program (Media, Art and Text).

All of the above data come from VCU’s Office of Planning and Decision Support (OPDS).

Besides requiring the publication of retention and graduation data, the Accrediting Council for Education in Journalism and Mass Communications suggested that accredited schools provide the public with additional indicators of student achievement.

Internship supervisor surveys

VCU mass communications majors are required to complete an internship in which they work closely with media professionals. Between Fall 2013 and Summer 2014, almost 300 students enrolled in our MASC 493 Fieldwork/Internship course. At the end of the internship, the supervisor at the work site must evaluate the student’s performance. Here is a summary of the supervisor evaluations for 2013-14.

1 (poor) 2 (fair) 3 (good) 4 (very good) 5 (excellent) Average rating
Rate the ability of the intern to work well with others in the workplace. Rate the student on a scale of 1 to 5. One means the intern works poorly with others; 5 means the intern works exceptionally well with others.
0% 0.5% 7% 28% 65% 4.6
Rate the intern’s diligence in completing tasks on a 1 to 5 scale. One means the intern shows little or no diligence; 5 means the intern demonstrates great diligence.
0.5% 4% 10% 31% 55% 4.4
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s dependability in attendance, meeting deadlines, and punctuality.
1% 9% 9% 26% 55% 4.2
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to follow directions.
0% 1% 17% 31% 51% 4.3
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to learn the tasks assigned. One means the intern learned very slowly; 5 means the intern learned exceptionally quickly.
0% 0% 13% 28% 55% 4.4
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to utilize surrounding resources.
0.5% 1% 14% 31% 54% 4.4
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s ability to take initiative.
1% 6% 15% 31% 47% 4.2
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s enthusiasm for the experience.
1% 2% 8% 25% 64% 4.5
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s willingness to ask for and use guidance.
0.5% 3% 11% 33% 53% 4.4
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s professionalism in the workplace.
1% 2% 11% 29% 57% 4.4
On a scale of 1 to 5, rate the intern’s overall performance. One means very poor; 5 means exceptionally good.
0% 3% 13% 25% 59% 4.4

Note: The numbers may not total 100% because of rounding and skipped responses.

Also as part of the survey, supervisors were asked, “Under the correct circumstances, would you hire this intern?” More than 82 percent of the supervisors said yes; 9 percent said no; and the others did not respond to that question.

Student awards

Students from the Robertson School consistently win scores of awards every year in international, national, regional and other competitions. Here is a sampling of student awards and honors from the past year:

¶ VCU undergraduate advertising students brought home eight awards, including Best in Show, from the 2014 ADDY Awards.

¶ Advertising students won the MINI Space Design Competition and a spot in the Media Sales Institute at Arizona State University.

¶ In March 2014, VCU students won three first-place awards and were finalists for 13 other awards in the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence competition for Region 2.

¶ For the second consecutive year, the Robertson School had a journalism student selected for the prestigious Dow Jones News Fund summer internship program.

¶ A VCU graduating senior in public relations was selected for a highly competitive internship at the White House.

¶ Robertson School students, along with their faculty mentors, won the 2014 VCU Community Engagement Award for their non-partisan “VCU votes” election campaign for Fall 2014.

Job placement data

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia recently started tracking what happens to college students after they graduate. SCHEV acknowledges that its system is limited: It tracks only college graduates who find work in Virginia, for example. (Many of our graduates go to work for advertising agencies, news organizations and public relations firms out of state.) Moreover, the system may not capture graduates who are working as independent contractors, such as freelance journalists. Furthermore, SCHEV notes, “Wage outcomes of graduates do not measure the quality or effectiveness of any institution. Instead, they provide basic facts about the experiences of graduates after entering the workforce and indications as to broadest levels of outcome in the Commonwealth — full-time employment, part-time enrollment, and enrollment in higher-level programs.”

With those caveats, here are SCHEV’s statistics comparing VCU mass comm graduates with all other VCU graduates, and with mass comm graduates from all Virginia colleges and universities. These numbers include only graduates who received bachelor’s degrees between 2006 and 2010. (The statistics reflect what the graduates were doing 18 months after earning their degrees.)

Total graduates Employed full-time in Virginia Attending graduate school Employed part-time in Virginia No information Average salary
VCU School of Mass Comm 980 53% 9% 15% 23% $28,388
All VCU graduates 17,770 50% 12% 14% 24% $34,677
Mass comm graduates from all Virginia institutions 1,430 49% 8% 15% 28% $27,574

Here is the Robertson School’s “public accountability” data for the 2012-13 school year.