ERIC Number: EJ833665
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Reference Count: 11
Toward Reflective Accountability: Using NSSE for Accountability and Transparency
McCormick, Alexander C.
New Directions for Institutional Research, n141 p97-106 Spr 2009
Accountability pressures in higher education are not new; they are part of an enduring public policy discourse about the costs and benefits, both individual and social, of higher education. What is relatively new, however, is the prominent place that issues of accountability now occupy on the nation's higher education agenda. There is an important difference between the visions of accountability articulated by the accrediting agencies and the Commission on the Future of Higher Education (the so-called Spellings Commission). For the accreditors, educational assessment and improvement is an internal matter organized around candid diagnosis and prescription for improvement, and accountability is accomplished through the approval of accrediting bodies, itself the result of an intensive but largely confidential peer review process. For the Spellings Commission, by contrast, the focus is on public disclosure and transparency in the interest of providing consumer information. In this view, accountability is accomplished by the marketplace--that is, the response of students and their parents--which rewards and punishes institutions based on publicly reported performance information. The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has been embraced by a large number of institutions for both internal diagnosis and public reporting. The author begins with a general discussion of accountability and how assessment tools like NSSE offer several ways that institutions can respond to accountability and transparency demands. Next, he reviews some current examples of the use of NSSE data in accountability and transparency efforts and discusses some important considerations associated with the public reporting of engagement data. The article concludes by looking forward: Where might the movement for greater transparency lead higher education?
Descriptors: Accountability, Disclosure, National Surveys, Data, Learner Engagement, Higher Education, Educational Assessment, Accreditation (Institutions), Reflection
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Survey of Student Engagement