Monday, December 07, 2015
That’s Not How It Looks from Here
As longtime readers know, my view of for-profits is more agnostic than most; I’m willing to entertain the idea that they can do certain things quite well, having seen it done. I’m not theologically opposed, even though many of my colleagues are. But if we want to make an argument from outcomes, we have to look at the ones that actually exist. I don’t know how many books we have in the library, off the top of my head, but I know what we’re doing to assure that students are learning. That should be the point. Increasing scrutiny on us while begging leniency for Corinthian doesn’t look like outcomes assessment from here.
On your main points, I would love to see a series of essays on those sessions you attended. It sounds like Middle States (and NEASC?) have been doing this longer than my region, where we didn't start doing outcomes assessment until the midway point of our previous cycle. We came through that without any trouble at all, but the extra work is really hard on our younger faculty and any who took it seriously enough to do more than the most minimal assessment. Specifically:
1) "some of the panels were specifically about ways to reduce the strain of continued process improvement" (How long has Middle States been at it, and how much of that strain is on IR and how much is on the faculty?)
2) " “Making Outcomes Assessment Sustainable.” The presentation ... took as given the idea that we’re already putting in tremendous amounts of work on outcomes assessment." (Is that the case, in your opinion, and how does that effort change as you go from year 0 to year 5 to year 10 and 15? Since the full reaffirmation cycle is 10 years, some colleges will be in year 10 when others are just starting, so your mileage may vary a lot across the region.)
3) "Bennington’s solution came uncomfortably close to collapsing assessment into grading, but that’s another issue." (That would be the issue I'm most interested in, because to be sustained and sustainable, it has to become as regularized as regular grading but more standardized in the rubric that gets used.)
IMHO, as valuable as I have found outcomes assessment to be as regards gaining insight into what my students have learned, it is almost meaningless if done during or at the end of the current semester. They haven't learned anything unless they can do it next year (or after transfer from a CC in our case or after taking a job for AS degrees and 4-year degrees), but we have absolutely no mechanisms for evaluating anything after they leave our class.
(end of stereotypical faculty rant)