UW-Eau Claire human resource students excel on national exam

The Assurance of Learning exam prepares students for a future in human resources

More stories from Stephanie Kuski

UW-Eau Claire business students scored above national average on the Society for Human Resource Management Assurance of Learning exam for the fifth year in a row.

The exam assesses students with a potential future in human resources on knowledge necessary for success as HR practitioners after graduation.

Dr. Scott Lester, professor of management at Eau Claire, said the accreditation this exam provides “gives students a leg up when it comes to jobs.”

“One of the biggest challenges when interviewing for a job is that they prefer three to five years of experience,” Lester said. “The SHRM stamp of approval gets students into the jobs they want quicker.”

For the past five years, Eau Claire students have scored in the top cohort of the nation with an 81 percent passing rate compared to the 50-60 percent national passing rate, Lester said.

Lester said he gives credit to his students and the program itself for the good test results. In preparing for the exam, Lester said he allows his students to lead class discussions and lectures, facilitate their own learning activities and test their peers on the material.

“By putting a little bit of ownership on them to study the material and present part of it, obviously they gain a better understanding of the material,” Lester said.

The professors’ investment in the departments and their students allows the department to stand out, Lester said.

“We care, we make a connection with students and we have experience presenting the curriculum,” Lester said.

The three and a half hour online exam consists of 160 multiple choice questions addressing numerous HR concepts including negotiation skills, employment law, training and development and workforce planning, according to the course outline.

Passing the exam is necessary for students who want to graduate with an HR emphasis. Students can receive either a proficiency certificate or an advanced certificate.

Kerren Kollock, a senior human resource management student, passed the exam with an advanced certificate. She said her advanced certification shows she understands the content, which prepares her for the competitive job field that lies ahead. Kollock said she is only one of nine students who attained an advanced certificate.

“I am definitely happy I took the exam and I am glad the university requires that we take the exam in order to graduate,” Kollock said. “(Advanced certification) places me, as well as everyone else in my cohort, apart from everyone else in the nation when it comes to jobs.”

Kollock is also a member of the SHRM organization at Eau Claire, which hosts social events and provides students with opportunities for professional networking. SHRM has provided a mentoring program which includes job shadowing. It also coordinates the Management Workshop Series, a community panel targeting specific HR topics.

This exposure to business translated into an internship for Kollock at Eastbay Footlocker in Wausau last summer.

“The things I learned in my classes came into play in the office every day,” Kollock said.

Kollock said superior performance on the exam will hopefully give more recognition to the HR major, professors and department.