Emory Report
March 30, 2009
Volume 61, Number 25



Emory Report homepage  

March 30
, 2009
National survey reflects experience at Oxford

By Cathy Wooten

Oxford College has been selected as one of only 49 institutions nationwide to participate in the highly respected, nationally prominent Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education (WNS). The Center of Inquiry in the Liberal Arts at Wabash College is leading the large-scale, longitudinal study to investigate critical factors that affect the outcomes of liberal arts education.

“We are honored to have been selected to take part in this very important research effort,” says Oxford Dean Stephen Bowen. “The results of the Wabash National Study will not only help us understand Oxford students and improve our own approach to liberal arts education, but also will advance the instruction and study of liberal arts nationwide.”

This March, Oxford is again administering a battery of tests to its freshmen, the second round of the study at Oxford. Students are assessed three to four times — first as they enter college as freshmen, then at the end of their first year, at the end of their second year when they graduate Oxford, and, finally, upon graduating from Emory College, Goizueta Business School or the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing.

Since the first tests were administered last fall, Oxford has already gleaned information about its freshman class in relationship to freshmen at other participating institutions. Among the findings: Oxford’s freshmen are particularly interested in post-graduate degrees — more than half want a Ph.D., Ed.D, or M.D. Fully half want to major in either the natural sciences or business. Oxford freshmen averaged 644 on their SAT math scores, compared to an average of 623 at other participating colleges. They ranked sixth among the 49 institutions in their desire to promote racial understanding, and third in their goal of owning their own business.

For Oxford, participation in the WNS promises valuable information about the effects of its educational program, as well as positive publicity at the national level. For students, the study has the potential to increase the value of their degree, help them reflect on their education, and improve the experience and level of learning while at Emory.

The WNS is the most comprehensive study of student learning ever conducted at Oxford College.

(To learn about Emory’s new initiative for assessing student learning outcomes across the institution, see stories in the March 2 and March 16 issues of Emory Report.)