by Rachel Witkowski
The University of North Florida isn’t just producing lots of graduates these days — its business majors are some of the brightest in the country.
Every semester the Coggin College of Business students take the Major Field Test in Business before graduation. Approximately 216 seniors who took the exam in the spring scored higher than 90 percent of the average score of students at participating institutions from 2003-05.
More than 500 business colleges have used the exam administered through Educational Testing Service, which also administers the SAT, since 2003. Institutions such as Auburn University, Texas A&M University, the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina were among the listed participants.
“We feel wonderful about it,” said Dr. John McAllister, dean of the Coggin College. “It (the Major Field Test) has provided us with a way to see how we’re doing and it’s great to see that we’re doing so well.”
In addition to the high average scores, about 42 percent of the business students who took the exam also scored in the top 20 percent nationally and a tenth of the students scored in the top 5 percent nationally.
Dr. Jay Coleman, associate dean of the Coggin College, said there are three reasons for the test scores — well qualified instructors, the high quality of students and the small class size. The average class size is 36 students at the Coggin College, he said.
It is the fifth term that the college has been tracking the electronic test and the scores have continued to increase as the number of students taking the exam has slowly increased. The test is comprised of 120 questions with a total score of 200 points. There are eight major categories on the exam: accounting, economics, management, quantitative business analysis, finance, marketing, legal and social environment and international issues.
“It’s not designed to be specified towards a major,” said Coleman. “Regardless of the major, this is something they should all know about.”
But there were areas where the students scored higher in comparison to other categories. In seven of the eight topics, UNF students scored in the 80th percentile or higher — the highest scores being in accounting, finance and economics. Coleman said the exam helps the college for two main reasons; to know how well the students are doing compared to other schools and to know where the students “may be coming up short.”
The lowest scored category, legal and social environment, was in the 70th percentile. Coleman said the low score is probably due to the fact the one class that has a curriculum with that topic is offered at the beginning of the degree and there is no major for it. McAllister said the college is currently having meetings to discuss the exam’s results and look into curriculum changes based on the scores.
Though a whole class is designed in the last term of a senior’s year to include the exam, Coleman said the “Business Policy” course does not prepare the students for the test and is a part of the final grade.
“We don’t want to fix them by simply teaching to the test,” he said. “We want to have a fair assessment of what the student knows.”
One topic that was previously infused into all of the curriculum majors was the international business program. And the results have shown through the Major Field Test in that category, which has ranked in the 90th percentile for four terms, according to Coleman.
It is also perfect timing for the Coggin College to receive the positive analysis and two recently-announced flagship programs because the college is up for its re-accreditation next year through The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. According to McAllister, only one of three schools have earned this accreditation.
“It’s a good time for the Coggin College of Business,” said McAllister. “It’s the acknowledgement of good work and it’s time to continue stepping up to the plate.”