Spring 2017 Diagnostic Exam Writing Outcomes


At the beginning of each semester, I provide by BBA 407 Strategic Management students with a short diagnostic exam. This exam allows me to develop a standardized benchmark against which student learning over the semester is assessed. Aside from covering select course content, there are also some survey questions related to whether a student was admitted as a freshman or transfer student, their prior experience using one of the Library’s databases, and their level of confidence coming into the course. In addition, there is a short article from which students are asked to write a short summary that answers a number of questions.

The short essay is used to gain a prior evaluation of student writing, as the course has a research paper component.

The spring 2017 outcomes were as follows when it came to the writing mechanics (grammar, spelling, and punctuation):

Average score: 0.48 on a scale from 0 to 1 (0.5 = average)
Average score for students admitted as freshmen: 0.51
Average score for students admitted as transfer students: 0.46
Percentage of students at least 2σ above/below the class mean: 4.5%

The numbers were little changed from the prior semester. The overall average was identical. The difference between students who were admitted as freshmen and those who were admitted as transfer students was slightly narrower than was the case last semester. Both semesters saw students admitted as freshmen score somewhat higher than those who were admitted as transfer students. It is plausible that the Freshman Year Initiative (FYI) writing component may contribute to this modest difference.