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The spring 2016 comprehensive examination cycle

The comprehensive examination is the capstone event of MSW education at Missouri State. As such, it is the opportunity for students to showcase their development as a master’s-level helping professional. The comprehensive exam is the most important written product of your graduate education.
The spring 2016 comprehensive examination cycle is for all MSW students planning to graduate in spring/summer 2016. There is only one exam cycle each year.

The comprehensive exam is a case study model in which students present their ideas for applying the six stages of helping with a client family. The exam process is a series of three written responses. It is not a one-time test. Students are allowed to revise their papers until mastery of each section’s content is achieved. Students receive individualized feedback and coaching from faculty regarding their written work.

• Students are provided a case study.
• In a series of three papers, students prepare responses to prompts about social work practice with the family presented in the case study.
• The exam, divided into three sections, addresses the helping process applied with a case study family:
o Section 1: Engagement and Assessment
o Section 2: Planning/Contracting and Intervention/Implementation
o Section 3: Evaluation, Policy and Termination
• Students must master a section before proceeding to the next phase.
• Students submit Section 1 first. When students master Section 1, they proceed to Section 2. When Section 2 is mastered, then they complete Section 3.

Evaluation and Feedback
• Section 1 is due on January 15, 2016. On January 22, 2016, students will receive feedback on their first papers. If papers are submitted late, feedback will be delayed beyond five business days. After the January 15 deadline, students will work at their individual pace for the remainder of the exam process.
• Papers are reviewed by a group of two faculty members who carefully review students’ work and provide feedback in a collection of all reviewers’ thoughts and impressions.
• Students are matched with the same two faculty members throughout the exam process. (Note: If students continue testing throughout the summer semester, they may be assigned new faculty reviewers as necessary.)
• Students will be assigned a specific faculty coach, from among their two reviewers, who is their primary contact and mentor throughout the comprehensive exam process.
• Comprehensive exams are evaluated according to a mastery learning model. This means that students must demonstrate their command of social work knowledge, values, and skills needed for successful practice as a master’s-level social worker.
• Faculty will assess students’ work in each section, evaluating for mastery of the concepts and skills at each phase.
• Faculty will provide detailed feedback to students. If students do not master materials, they will revise their section and submit it for re-evaluation.
• When students fully master a section, they may proceed to the next phases of helping.
• Papers are to be submitted by Fridays at 5:00pm. Students will receive feedback within five business days of a paper’s submission, which is the following Friday 5:00pm.
• If students submit materials that are written and prepared at a level unacceptable for graduate study, they will be required to revise and resubmit the entire section.
• If students have not mastered all three sections by the spring deadline, they will not be eligible for spring 2016 graduation. Students not mastering the comprehensive exam by the spring semester deadline must be enrolled in a one-credit Special Topics class to remain active in the comprehensive exam process.
• If students have not fully mastered all three sections by the spring deadline, they must enter a remediation plan for the summer and/or fall to build knowledge, values, and skills to master the exam.
• The final deadline for mastering the comprehensive exam for 2016 is the Friday before Thanksgiving break. No further attempts will be permitted after this date and no degree will be conferred.

Presentation of Materials
• Papers must be presented in APA format, typed double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman font with 1-inch margins.
• Students must use the document template provided. Do not insert a cover page or modify the running headers. Do insert your name and the submission date where prompted.
• Students will cite only academic references (e.g., text books and peer-reviewed journals). Students are expected to cite a minimum of three academic references per section. References to lecture slides or websites are unacceptable.
• Page numbers are mandatory on all citations. Example of parenthetical format: (Kreuger & Casey, 2009, p. 95). In-text format example: Merriam (2009, p. 57).
• As the capstone project of students’ graduate education, papers are expected to be highly polished and professional.


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