The View from the Backseat

Assessment by Design

The View from the Backseat


I recently came across this blog post by the assessment folks over at Johnson Community College in Kansas. I enjoyed their message and wanted to share it with you guys. The link to the original post is included above and the full text is shown below.     Please take a minute and check out their message about making assessment ALL ABOUT THE STUDENTS.


The View from the Backseat


One of the most important philosophies in my office is that we are a support office for assessment activities at the College.  Assessment is “driven” by faculty and we are here to encourage, cajole, resource, and generally meet the needs of faculty.  Sitting as we are in the backseat of assessment as the faculty drive the car, I have a few observations about the most common mistakes faculty make when approaching assessment activities.

  1. Sometimes faculty make assessment about themselves.  It’s not!  It is not faculty evaluation; it is not a reflection on how “good” you are.  It is about student learning in your classroom.
  2. Some faculty or departments like to compare themselves favorably to others.  I don’t really care how English is doing compared to Computer Science, and neither should the faculty.  Generally speaking, departments don’t know anything about the assessment plans for the other programs, the assessment instrument, or the goals of the initiative.
  3. Some faculty or departments approach assessment with a sense of self-satisfaction.  Although they may complain about students at the water cooler, when it comes to assessment all their students live in Lake Wobegon and are above-average.  It is students in those other programs that need help.

In truth, there is really only one way to approach assessment.  It needs to be ALL ABOUT THE STUDENTS!  Assessment at its core is helping students improve learning in areas of the discipline and curriculum where they are struggling.  That’s it – nothing else.  When you consider your next initiative, consider keeping that thought front and center as you drive your assessment plans.

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