ERIC Number: ED339437
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1991-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
From Positivism to Post-Modernism: Can Education Catch up with the Paradigm Shift?
Levin, Bernard H.; Clowes, Darrel A.
In the literature since the 1970's, the notion that education should serve as a social leveler has given way to the image of the educational institution as a business-like enterprise. This change in the perceived role of higher education has been accompanied by increased pressure on institutions to provide measurements of educational outcomes. For the last 5 years, the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) has required all of its member institutions to develop and implement student educational outcomes assessment (SEOA) models. SCHEV guidelines charge faculty at individual institutions with drawing conclusions from assessment data and making curricular modifications accordingly. A 1990 survey of faculty senate chairs, chief assessment officers, and curriculum committee chairs at every higher education institution in Virginia has yielded little evidence that SEOA has led to the improvement of any educational outcomes or that faculty have taken on the leadership role which SEOA requires. Thus, SEOA appears to have triggered a purely administrative response to an external mandate rather than an effective mechanism for actually improving student learning outcomes. On balance, however, the lack of faculty involvement may be good, as SEOA, and the larger assessment movement of which it is a part, reflects an outmoded logical positivist approach to education. Since the 1960's, intellectual and academic thought has been undergoing a significant epistemological shift led by critical theorists and radical deconstructionists. Although this paradigmatic shift to post-modernist modes of inquiry is evinced in education in the multicultural movement, and in the proliferation of women's and ethnic studies programs, educational practice tends to be reactive, and thus not attuned to contemporary issues and needs. If the state-mandated assessment movement is successful, it will leave the student trained for the past rather than educated for the future. (MPH)
Descriptors: College Outcomes Assessment, Educational Change, Educational Philosophy, Educational Trends, Epistemology, Higher Education, Institutional Evaluation, Outcomes of Education, Politics of Education, Postmodernism, Relevance (Education), Role of Education, State Standards, Theory Practice Relationship
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Positivism; Virginia
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Virginia Social Science Association (Newport News, VA, March 22-23, 1991).