Monday, June 13, 2011
The article from early last year, “Assessment Disconnect,” received a great deal of negative feedback in a matter of one day. The negativity honed in on the ineffectiveness of assessment in higher education and the lack of evidence that there is to support actively pursuing assessment data in institutions. Academic freedom and diversity were brought to question in many of the article’s comments – regarding the idea that assessment and accreditation are synonymous with standardization.
Most accrediting agencies provide broad learning goals with minimal direction on instruction or means for assessment. Such vagueness invites institutions, programs, and even individual instructors to develop curriculum freely and to find creative means for students to attain high level goals. Additionally, collecting data against these goals provides perspective on the effectiveness of student learning and sheds light on areas that need to be reinforced for success in related career fields. Students attend institutions to work toward career goals and most seek employment related to their fields after earning their degrees. This statement is applicable to engineering, medical, philosophy, design, performance arts…all students! Thus, assessment must be applicable to all students and any discipline. This conclusion opens a new question, instead of whether or not to assess – how to assess.
Finding methods for assessment is similar to developing strong instructional methods. Practices should reinforce the mission and values of the institution. There are great opportunities for the development of best practices through collaboration. And, there are many assessment conferences annually that invite institutions to share ideas and brainstorm means for growth and improvement. Check out www.goAEFIS.com/events to learn more about many of these conferences and how to get involved.
Becky Joyce, AEFIS Team