08 December 2009

Discussions at SACS 2009

The nice thing about assessment folks is that they are open-minded. Perhaps that's because the work of assessment on higher ed campuses is tough. So, the people who do it are always looking for new assists, new thinking. In our pre-conference workshop last weekend at the SACS Annual Meeting, two discussions proved this again.

First, we talked about the strong and candid statements of Laurie Fendrich. She has written short pieces for the Chronicle (in 2007 and 2009, if you care to google her) about outcomes assessment. No doubt, when she calls the process baloney, she reflects what many are thinking. The SACS room was interested in the comments, chuckled appropriately, and took seriously the fact that many faculty members may hold the same sentiment.

Second, we talked about embedded assessment. A participant commented that this technique appears to bring out the worst in faculty, not the best. In short, the "embeddedness" in courses makes at least some faculty members resistant to assessment in general. With attention at the course level, instructors feel scrutinized and criticized.

I still like outcomes assessment. And I still like embedded assessment as a technique. But I am glad to be in the room when these things are questioned. Moving to a culture of assessment means picking up every piece of it, turning it over and upside down, and continuing to question the best way to conduct assessment.

© 2009 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

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