Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Student Assessment

The debate continues - how to effective implement assessment of student learning. This Chronicle of Higher Ed news item explains explains another "new call" for assessment at the college and university levels. Although outgoing Secretary of Education Spellings (and, apparently maybe sooner rather than later) tried to issue this call, there was enough "movement" from the usual crowds to go around it - at least for now.

Ultimately, the accountability measurements (data, data, data) that was first utilized in the business world will be inside our house and not just on our doorsteps. As I asked our dean earlier this semester, "So, isn't all the data and analysis that is downstairs (we're in the main administration building) in the institutional research office something we can no longer ignore and something we will have to start dealing with more effectively?"

I think it surprised my dean that I was this aware. On the other hand, I'm not sure how many of my colleagues understood what I really meant. More than one has spent a career fighting _against_ anything from outside the department (and sometimes within :-) ).

If you follow the comments on the first Chronicle article above, you'll see the usual back and forth between administrator view and faculty view. The reality is somewhere in the middle. And, as I've believed for over a decade, if we as faculty do not get a handle on this, we will be told what handle to hang on to as we go along for the ride to meet the demands of more accountability to the outside world. Sadly, some of our colleagues at institutions with the resources to actually accomplish this, continue in large part to ignore it given their major emphasis on discipline research and not on the larger world of our responsibility to taxpayers, parents, and students. And, some of what happens in the world of teacher education is workable but not necessarily all of it.

Of course, more thoughts are brewing but it's time to get some grading done.

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