Kansas State University


Office of Assessment

Faculty Spotlight: Don Kurtz

Dr. Don Kurtz, associate professor of social work, is no stranger to the work of assessment. At the start of his day, he had already had a meeting with faculty on evaluative measures.

The environment in the social work program is a collaborative one. “All of our professors are committed to (evaluation),” said Kurtz. Many in the program, including Kurtz, have taken on AAC&U VALUE Rubrics, available here. Kurtz has used the rubrics in a variety of ways: to monitor discussion boards, by adapting them to assess a written assignment, and to save time. Especially in large, online courses, Kurtz said the benefits of rubrics are extremely advantageous.

KurtzAssessing students in social work is a unique venture, because it is competency-based education. This has led to the method of linking classroom assignments to practical applications. Kurtz gave the example of having students watch a movie which gives information on family development. Students are then asked to evaluate the needs of the fictitious family and write a report to assist the family from a social worker’s perspective.

In addition, students in social work must complete an internship as part of their capstone, where they are evaluated by a field supervisor outside of the university. Students are evaluated for all nine competencies both in the classroom and by their supervisor. In the future, Kurtz is working on a system of cohorts so the program can track students across competencies from the time students enter their practice sequence to graduation.

The internship itself has a requirement of 480 hours. Kurtz is familiar with the process; his work as a field supervisor is what led him to K-State. According to Kurtz, working with students in the field is very rewarding. “Students might bring in a new idea or a new way of looking at things,” said Kurtz. “It can be very exciting.”

Kurtz specifically worked in the field of juvenile justice, where he employed a specific method to get his students to see their clients as human. Kurtz would have his students meet with their client before being allowed to read their file, so no biases regarding their case could be formed.

The time saved by using the VALUE Rubrics will definitely assist Kurtz, who has taken on quite a bit within the program. Between continuing work as a field supervisor, teaching, conducting research, and utilizing assessment methods, social work students at K-State are in good hands.