ERIC Number: ED476893
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2001
Reference Count: N/A
Discerning Is More Than Counting. An AALE Scholars Essay. AALE Occasional Papers in Liberal Education.
Harris, John; Sansom, Dennis
This paper makes the case that the intensifying pressure to assess higher educational outcomes objectively must be balanced by the inclusion of professional judgment. Mere numbers cannot tell the whole story of educational achievement. The tenacious attachment to positivism distances assessment and quality improvement from more inclusive ways of knowing. Assessment and quality improvement cannot avoid the knotty problem of how reality is discerned. The two key principles of positivism, the empirical reduction of all knowledge and the adequacy of mathematical analysis, cannot account for knowledge enacted through craftsmanship. It would be foolish to abandon rationally interpreted empirical data in assessment and quality improvement, but it is necessary to acknowledge and value intellectual judgment drawn from lived and reflective experience. Reflective practice is needed. The discernment needed to improve student learning does not lie primarily in finding ever more clever ways to measure students as determined organisms. The more productive approach lies in encouraging faculties to form communities of judgment to use the hard data and intuitive knowledge now available to them. (SLD)
Descriptors: Accountability, Educational Assessment, Higher Education, Measurement Techniques, Outcomes of Education
For full text: http://www.aale.org/harris-sansom.pdf.
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: American Academy for Liberal Education, Washington, DC.