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Making Assessment Matter: Changing Cultures, Improving Teaching, and Transforming Departments
Unformatted Document Text:  Making Assessment Matter: Changing Cultures, Improving Teaching, and Transforming Departments Michelle D. Deardorff Jackson State University ## email not listed ## 601.979.2822 Paul J. Folger Heartland Community College ## email not listed ## Prepared for presentation at the 2008 Teaching and Learning Conference of the American Political Science Association in San Jose, California, February 22-24, 2008. A version of this paper will be included in the forthcoming book, Assessment in Political Science, Michelle D. Deardorff, John Ishiyama, and Kerstin Hamann (editors). Washington, D.C.: APSA, 2008. Abstract: Assessment requirements frequently alarm departments and faculty: fear of loss of autonomy, distraction from primary departmental goals, and the creation of alien and artificial external standards all distract us from assessment’s potential. As a result, many departmental leaders believe that assessment will not work in their departments. This chapter demonstrates two distinct approaches toward departmental assessment, arguing that departmental circumstances should dictate the appropriate assessment model. The Structural Implementation or “Mission-Based” model begins with the establishment of a mission, learning objectives, and a subsequent curriculum; assessment is integrated into the very definition of the program. This model works best in young departments, liberal arts institutions, and programs heavily reliant on adjunct instructors. The second approach, Grassroots Implementation or “Question-Based” assessment, demonstrates how effective, simple course assessment techniques can easily become the core of a comprehensive departmental assessment plan. Building on successful classroom assessment, a department articulates a shared objective and creates a simple, non-threatening assessment process that could pave the way for more integrated assessment approaches. This model is most appropriate for larger programs, departments with many tenured and disengaged faculty, or programs with limited institutional support for assessment. If departments are able to identify which structure is most appropriate for their own cultures and circumstances, assessment may be more fertile and possibly culturally transformative for the department.

Authors: Deardorff, Michelle. and Folger, Paul.
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Making Assessment Matter:
Changing Cultures, Improving Teaching, and Transforming Departments
Michelle D. Deardorff
Jackson State University
## email not listed ##
601.979.2822
Paul J. Folger
Heartland Community College
## email not listed ##

Prepared for presentation at the 2008 Teaching and Learning Conference of the American Political Science
Association in San Jose, California, February 22-24, 2008. A version of this paper will be included in the
forthcoming book,
Assessment in Political Science, Michelle D. Deardorff, John Ishiyama, and Kerstin Hamann
(editors). Washington, D.C.: APSA, 2008.
Abstract:
Assessment requirements frequently alarm departments and faculty: fear of loss of autonomy,
distraction from primary departmental goals, and the creation of alien and artificial external standards all distract
us from assessment’s potential. As a result, many departmental leaders believe that assessment will not work in
their departments. This chapter demonstrates two distinct approaches toward departmental assessment, arguing
that departmental circumstances should dictate the appropriate assessment model. The Structural Implementation
or “Mission-Based” model begins with the establishment of a mission, learning objectives, and a subsequent
curriculum; assessment is integrated into the very definition of the program. This model works best in young
departments, liberal arts institutions, and programs heavily reliant on adjunct instructors. The second approach,
Grassroots Implementation or “Question-Based” assessment, demonstrates how effective, simple course assessment
techniques can easily become the core of a comprehensive departmental assessment plan. Building on successful
classroom assessment, a department articulates a shared objective and creates a simple, non-threatening assessment
process that could pave the way for more integrated assessment approaches. This model is most appropriate for
larger programs, departments with many tenured and disengaged faculty, or programs with limited institutional
support for assessment. If departments are able to identify which structure is most appropriate for their own
cultures and circumstances, assessment may be more fertile and possibly culturally transformative for the
department.


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