Engaging Faculty as a Strategic Choice in Assessment

Engaging Faculty as a Strategic Choice in Assessment

Sean A. McKitrick (Binghamton University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-667-9.ch020
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This chapter introduces methods that can be used to engage faculty in the assessment process, working within a shared governance structure in institutions of higher education. It begins by identifying assumptions about including faculty in the assessment process, placing special emphasis on social capital and networking theories often used in communication and sociological research. The chapter then proceeds to identify six methods that might be used to engage faculty strategically in the assessment process, and then used three case studies to help explain these methods. The author hopes that an understanding of these assumptions and methods will empower assessment professionals wishing to develop and sustain assessment on their own campuses, and will lead to further discussion about how to include faculty in the assessment process.
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For years, government officials at both federal and state levels have been calling for greater accountability in higher education. The U.S. Department of Education Secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education (2006) submitted a final report which castigates the U.S. higher education community for not developing a culture of accountability that uses assessment measures to demonstrate that student learning is occurring and is being sustained over time. State governments have been even more specific about their expectations regarding the assessment of student learning at program levels, such as New York’s focus on the use of rubrics to assess the quality of student work (Francis, Salins, & Huot, 2006). Other organizations, such as the Educational Testing Service (Millett, Payne, Dwyer, Sticker, & Alexiou, 2008) and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (McPherson & Schulenburger, 2006), have also provided input into the national conversations about assessment and accountability, recommending that colleges and universities begin assessing the “value added” of higher education.

At program levels, accrediting organizations have responded to the pressure to assess student learning by insisting that assessment focus both on learning objectives and use of such assessments for continual improvements in student learning. Most program and regional accreditors believe that faculty must collaborate to create statements of student learning objectives, measure students’ achievement of these objectives, and specify actions that address program weaknesses revealed through the assessment process. For example, the Western Association of Colleges and Schools ([WASC] n.d.) offers an assessment guide that stresses the need for linkages between clear assessment of student learning and how such assessment leads to improvements in student learning. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools ([NCACS] 2003) has also indicated that institutions should generate evidence of a “mature” level of assessment, linking the usage of student learning outcomes assessments from institutions’ boards of directors down to department and program levels. Even programmatic accrediting organizations such as the National Council for Accrediting Teacher Education ([NCATE] 2002) advise departments and programs to prepare evidence of well-developed assessment methods that link student learning assessment to the improvement of student learning.

This insistence upon assessment and accountability has been met with resistance from many faculty, mainly because of their awareness of the pressures experienced by K-12 educators as local school districts have had to deal with implications of the No Child Left Behind Act. When I have discussed assessment with faculty in higher education, they mention that they feel they are being mandated to assess how their teaching impacts student learning, despite a lack of consensus about which assessments can be used to assess student learning in ways that are sensitive to the differing missions and visions of their home institutions. Those who are experienced in student learning assessment also mention that standardized tests can provide some basic information, but the results of such tests are vague and do not contribute the kinds of information that can lead to faculty discussions about student performance, and thus to a focus on how to help students enhance their learning (McMillan, 1997). In essence, faculty feel that the assessment movement really constitutes an effort by political leaders to bypass the natural faculty role as the primary assessors of student learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Formal Interaction: Interactions that are structured within institutional structure or bureaucracy.

Informal Interaction: Interaction that occur outside institutional structures or bureaucracies.

Assessment Process: A process which includes the process of identifying learning objectives, generating valid and reliable assessment information, encouraging conversations about what such assessments have to say, and creating pathways through which curriculum and instruction are impacted by assessment.

Assessment Feedback: Using the results of assessment to evaluate original student learning objectives.

Dynamic Assessment Policy: An assessment policy in which assessment results are used to continually improve curriculum and instruction, requiring a great deal of interplay among key actors.

Purpose of Assessment: To generate meaningful information that enables key agents, principally faculty, to understand the strengths and weaknesses in students’ learning in order to take action to address such weaknesses with regard to curriculum and instruction.

Strategic Process in Assessment: Making choices about how to include faculty in meaningful discussions about student learning, as opposed to a process whereby information is distributed by a central administrative office and results are expected by fiat.

Feedback: A process in which the results of an assessment process are shared with those who provided the assessment information in the first place.

Static Assessment Policy: An assessment policy in which assessment is used to merely measure learning.

Strategic Assessment: A process that focuses on making choices to maximize interaction, inclusion, conversation, and meaning, especially with faculty as the primary agents.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Christopher S. Schreiner
Christopher S. Schreiner
Chapter 1
Melissa A. Dyehouse, John Y. Baek, Richard A. Lesh
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Chapter 2
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Chapter 3
Suzanne Pieper, Erika Edwards, Brandon Haist, Walter Nolan
The purpose of this chapter is to review literature over the past ten years regarding technology tools that are being used in higher education to... Sample PDF
A Survey of Effective Technologies to Assess Student Learning
Chapter 4
John Baer, Sharon S. McKool
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Assessing Creativity Using the Consensual Assessment Technique
Chapter 5
Christine Charyton, Zorana Ivcevic, Jonathan A. Plucker, James C. Kaufman
This chapter discusses creativity assessment as a means for evaluating skills required in higher education. Creativity is assessed in the context of... Sample PDF
Creativity Assessment in Higher Education
Chapter 6
Asao B. Inoue
This chapter articulates writing assessment as a technology, theorized with three aspects (power, parts, and purpose), accounting for the ways in... Sample PDF
The Technology of Writing Assessment and Racial Validity
Chapter 7
Sheila S. Thompson, Annemarie Vaccaro
The purpose of this chapter is to address epistemological and methodological approaches to assessing assessment. The authors’ intent is to show how... Sample PDF
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods as Complementary Assessment Tools
Chapter 8
Teresa Flateby
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Effects of Assessment Results on a Writing and Thinking Rubric
Chapter 9
Barbara D’Angelo, Barry Maid
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Assessing Outcomes in a Technical Communication Capstone
Chapter 10
Sonya Borton, Alanna Frost, Kate Warrington
As Jacqueline Jones Royster articulated at the 2006 Conference on College Composition and Communication, English departments are already assessing... Sample PDF
Assessing the Composition Program on Our Own Terms
Chapter 11
Joan Aitken
This chapter uses a case study to exemplify one approach to assessment of three instructional delivery formats: (a) online, (b) distance, satellite... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Instructional Delivery Formats
Chapter 12
Victor W. Brunsden
The author present a case-study of a classroom technique that allows assessment and some remediation of several shortcomings of college student... Sample PDF
Inverting the Remedial Mathematics Classroom with Alternative Assessment
Chapter 13
David A. Eubanks
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A Case Study of Authentic Assessment
Chapter 14
P. Tokyo Kang, David Gugin
This chapter reports an outcomes assessment study conducted at the University of Guam. The assessment project was conducted during the 2006-07 and... Sample PDF
Outcomes Assessment in Japanese Language Instruction
Chapter 15
Barika Barboza, Frances Singh
This chapter describes an outcomes assessment study completed in a basic composition course at a small urban open admissions community college. The... Sample PDF
Assessing the Effectiveness of a Basic Writing Course
Chapter 16
Lorraine Gilpin, Yasar Bodur, Kathleen Crawford
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Peer Assessment for Development of Preservice Teachers
Chapter 17
Charlotte Brammer, Rhonda Parker
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Workshops and E-Portfolios as Transformational Assessment
Chapter 18
Daniel F. Chambliss
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A Neglected Necessity in Liberal Arts Assessment: The Student as the Unit of Analysis
Chapter 19
Deirdre Pettipiece, Timothy Ray, Justin Everett
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Redefining Writing Reality Multi-Modal Writing and Assessment
Chapter 20
Sean A. McKitrick
This chapter introduces methods that can be used to engage faculty in the assessment process, working within a shared governance structure in... Sample PDF
Engaging Faculty as a Strategic Choice in Assessment
Chapter 21
Steven M. Culver, Ray VanDyke
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Developing a Receptive and Faculty-Focused Environment for Assessment
Chapter 22
John Wittman
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New Collaborations for Writing Program Assessment
Chapter 23
Mya Poe
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Reporting Race and Ethnicity in International Assessment
Chapter 24
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