Ass-sessing Assessment

Assess this, morons....

Assess this, morons....

I sure wish Laurie Fendrich was Chancellor of my university. One of the most noxious contemporary academic fads is “assessment” which is supposed to justify our existence, at least in the very small minds of a bunch of minor league administrators who dream of becoming associate deans. None of these advocates even knows of the existence of the journal Evaluation Review, nor could they come up with the formula for a simple bivariate correlation if they were handed an undergraduate statistics book. Worse yet, this nonsense has worked its way into “accreditation” of various colleges and programs. Great. So, now we’re supposed to spend huge amounts of time standardizing our courses, coordinating with other professors and departments, and constructing “assessment reports” and even “assessments of assessments”, and indeed, “assessments of assessments of assessments” (no shit, I’m not making that up).  All of this goes to some craven permanent associate professor in the humanities who wouldn’t know how to do a real assessment if his or her life depended on it. But, they get course release and extra money, and can act like big shots–and apply for every permanent administrative post they can find, after all, they’re the assessment expert!! The measure of our product is our students’  future careers, not whether or not they can recall tidbits from Durkheim or Marx.

Fendrich nails it in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (full link above):

“The best way to assess a college education is to measure what students do with their professional and intellectual lives three, five, 10, 15, and 25 years after graduation. (Several institutions, my alma mater among them, have been doing this for years.) If we want real outcomes assessment, we should close the doors on outcomes assessment and fire the outcomes-assessment consultants. Then we should triple the staff in the Alumni Office. That staff should conduct careful surveys of graduates’ opinions, professional accomplishments, civic involvement and intellectual activities. Make the results easy to read and make how the data were gathered transparent. Post everything on a Web site, for all to see. Only then will we know how well a college is doing its job, and how it could improve itself.”

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