A baseline fact-check and the response to stakeholders.
Some say a college education is not worth the time, and certainly not worth the cost. Even a quick look at the numbers shows this is certainly NOT true. Depending on the degree completed, college-educated workers earn 60% to 250% more on average than those with only a high school credential. The false critique about the value of a college education should be called out as bad thinking that just obstructs and delays personal development. And it’s not just a falsehood about individual earning potential, but the belief also impedes the importance of maintaining the contributions to society made by the college-educated community.
College graduates have been making strides, especially over the past few decades. College educators have been creating new course offerings to keep pace with emerging knowledge and new systems. Genetics and astrophysics, entrepreneurship, and technology training are offered in ‘just-in-time’ think tank learning environments, and the health sciences train bioscience alongside tactical courage. These graduates can join the workforce of a world in constant flux. Is there a gap between more experienced workers and the new graduate? Yes, but this experience gap is smaller than the gaps in the current worker pool. Colleges are answering the call.
Our society needs an increasing proportion of workers that can function with increasing decision responsibility. Colleges have responded with award-worthy programs to help all students take personal advantage of learning opportunities. Poverty and circumstance may threaten some students’ ability to step into learning environments, but there are numerous educational support programs and ever-increasing learning environment options all aimed at supporting students’ self-development.
Assessment is about cataloging and reporting these achievements. It’s an opportunity to explain these incredible accomplishments to stakeholders in ways that they can understand. It’s about celebrating and energizing educators who produce graduates who can do tasks we have not yet imagined.
Accomplishing assessment in a time of quitting.
Most people are reflecting on their work life and home life, striving to adjust to change that is everywhere. Even maintaining baselines takes added effort. But in this atmosphere of change, we can ask whether a task needs to be done, rather than simply assume that someone must do it.
The academic community’s unique culture can handicap the accomplishment of an assessment initiative. A community of experts, each with their own brand of quality assurance, can resist collaboration and delay progress even when the team spearheading the assessment effort has the requisite skills and personality. They can fail to see the importance of describing the accomplishments of their learning communities. No matter if demonstrating effectiveness is linked to the success of fragile growth initiatives or vitally important funding sources, some in the community will still obstruct and sabotage.
Even when there is support for assessment, academics argue about how it should be done, viewed through the lens of their discipline. Some call for intensive, task-heavy initiatives, and others prefer validated measures developed through measurement science. Today, setting aside the perennial skeptics, all want valid data gathered through a process that spares their already overburdened work demands. In a collectivist culture, the debate about assessment design is probably inevitable, but the limb to go out on is the one that provides developmental insights for students and value to programs that are engaged in growth or reaccreditation initiatives. These are the stakeholders who should determine which of the many sources of data be collected, organized, and presented in response to a call to assess the successful attainment of learning outcomes.
Accomplishing assessment with proven strategies.
Depending on the outcome of the campus debate, collection, assembly, and presentation of assessment data will be a well-worn process. Bring a thinking mindset to the problem: How can we expeditiously pull together evidence of our strengths and have a collegial conversation about gaps and next steps?
Put the right small team in place for this effort and resolve to give them what they ask for when they ask for it. Trust them to collate these valid and reliable examples of what your campus has achieved and where you might best direct efforts at improvement. Then gratefully celebrate their achievement, completed despite all the current pressures on your academic culture.
Insight Assessment can assure that your institutional assessment self-study includes the measurement of outcomes that are important to your students and to your community stakeholders. We can provide you with proven assessment tools that demonstrate your students’ strengths and provide you with ideas for potential future curriculum initiatives to help keep pace with society’s demands. This approach will allow you to watch trends in your program performance over time and will allow you to compare your students’ achievements to an appropriate external comparison group.
If your institution plans to focus on providing students with strong reasoning skills and a thinking mindset because employers what to hire for these skills, students need these skills to be successful in all they will do in life, and because democracy cannot survive when the people cannot analyze and evaluate ideas and discover ways to manage novel problems — consider making us a part of your assessment solution.
At Insight Assessment we have a complete array of college-level assessments and support services to serve your initiative. Contact us today to get started on your institutional assessment initiative.
Assessment initiatives should explain students’ educational achievements to stakeholders in ways that they can understand and celebrate educators who are producing graduates who will do tasks we have not yet imagined.