ERIC Number: EJ1065335
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Is Outcomes Assessment Hurting Higher Education?
Pontuso, James F.; Thornton, Saranna R.
Thought & Action, p61-69 Fall 2008
This article addresses the issue of assessment and how it is becoming such a critical problem for higher education, especially for teachers of the liberal arts. While the common-sense goals of assessment are laudable, the actual consequences of the process are far from beneficial. It is suggested that ongoing assessment diverts teachers from teaching. Instead of preparing their courses, meeting with students, or grading papers, instructors must spend a substantial amount of time worrying about how to assess what they teach. Assessment measurements also tend to aggregate information across disciplines and miss important differences in subject matter. What higher education is understanding is that the only people who truly pay attention to assessment results are accrediting agencies. But because all institutions are fearful of losing accreditation, everyone at the institutions under the microscope act as if assessment matters. The authors suggest there is a very simple way for accrediting agencies to assess whether students are learning. A review of randomly selected course syllabi, reading assignments, term papers, tests, and student evaluations should work for assessors, though they would have to learn something about fields of study not their own.
Descriptors: Educational Assessment, College Outcomes Assessment, Higher Education, Liberal Arts, Educational Benefits, Barriers, Accreditation (Institutions), Course Content, Reading Assignments, Research Papers (Students), Tests, Student Evaluation
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site: http://www.nea.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A