Avoiding a Tragedy of the Commons
Chapter 8: The Importance of Faculty in the Age of Assessment
74 BACKGROUND The role of faculty with respect to assessment in post-secondary education deserves more attention than it receives. First, let us set the context by looking at the recent history on the subject. There is increased interest in assessment and accountability of learning in higher education. This is signified both by the Spellings Commission Report (Secretary’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education, 2009) and the Obama Administration’s Race To The Top program of the Department of Education, which calls for more accountability and new assessments. There have been a number of responses to the call for greater assessment and accountability, such as the initiatives of the American Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AASCU), as well as the Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA).75 Many colleges and universities are signing up for this and other state-based programs that call for them to make information about their student learning outcomes public.76 The increased attention is also demonstrated by the number of articles on the subject in the press and journals related to higher education. However, within these discussions, the importance of the faculty is typically either overlooked or given short shrift. This demonstrates a fundamental problem about how we are currently approaching reforms in both assessment and learning. Of course assessment instruments must be reliable and valid. However, if the assessment instruments do not directly assist the faculty to improve the teaching and learning results of their students, they will...
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