Institute Occasional Paper 4: Opening Doors to Faculty Involvement in Assessment
Much of what has been done in the name of assessment has failed to induce large numbers of faculty to systematically collect and use evidence of student learning to improve teaching and enhance student performance. Pat Hutchings, a senior associate at The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, examines the dynamics behind this reality, including the mixed origins of assessment, coming both from within and outside academe, and the more formidable obstacles that stem from the culture and organization of higher education itself. Then, she describes six ways to bring the purposes of assessment and the regular work of faculty closer together, which may make faculty involvement more likely and assessment more useful.
The assessment literature is replete with admonitions about the importance of faculty involvement, a kind of gold standard widely understood to be the key to assessment’s impact “on the ground,” in classrooms where teachers and students meet. Unfortunately, much of what has been done in the name of assessment has failed to engage large numbers of faculty in significant ways.
In this paper, I examine the dynamics behind this reality, including the mixed origins of assessment, coming both from within and outside academe, and a number of obstacles that stem from the culture and organization of higher education itself. I then identify more recent developments that promise to alter those dynamics, including and especially the rising level of interest in teaching and learning as scholarly, intellectual work. I close by proposing six ways to bring the purposes of assessment and the regular work of faculty closer together: 1) Build assessment around the regular, ongoing work of teaching and learning; 2) Make a place for assessment in faculty development; 3) Integrate assessment into the preparation of graduate students; 4) Reframe assessment as scholarship; 5) Create campus spaces and occasions for constructive assessment conversation and action; and 6) Involve students in assessment. Together, these strategies can make faculty involvement more likely and assessment more useful.
Pat Hutchings joined the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in 1998, serving as a senior scholar and then as vice president, working closely with a wide range of programs and research initiatives, including the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She has written widely on the investigation and documentation of teaching and learning, the peer collaboration and review of teaching, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Recent publications, drawing from Carnegie's work, include Ethics of Inquiry: Issues in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2002), Opening Lines: Approaches to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (2000) and, co-authored with Mary Taylor Huber, The Advancement of Learning: Building the Teaching Commons (2005). She continues to work part-time with the Foundation on a broad range of higher education issues. She was chair of the English department at Alverno College from 1978 to 1987 and a senior staff member at the American Association for Higher Education from 1987-1997. Her doctorate in English is from the University of Iowa.
May 28, 2010 - Inside Higher Ed, "The Faculty Role in Assessment"
January/February 2011 - Academe Online (American Association of University Professors), "Faculty Forum: Assessment Metaphors We Live By"
This occasional paper was mentioned in the May 2011 Council for Graduate Schools Publication titled, "Preparing Future Faculty to Assess Student Learning."