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Making Assessment Matter: Changing Cultures, Improving Teaching, and Transforming Departments
Unformatted Document Text:  5 Making Assessment Matter to begin building consensus for an assessment program. This approach demonstrates how simple course assessment techniques can easily become the core of a comprehensive departmental assessment plan. Building on successful classroom pedagogy, a department articulates a single shared objective and creates a simple, non-threatening assessment process that could pave the way for more integrated assessment approaches. Grassroots Implementation is most effective in departments where there is strong resistance from the faculty towards issues of teaching and assessment, limited support or incentive provided by the larger institution for faculty engagement, and the chair has no resources to entice cooperation. If departments are able to identify which structure is most appropriate for their own cultures and circumstances, assessment may be more fertile ground for the department. Structural Implementation—“Mission-Based” Assessment Structural implementation requires a department to integrate assessment throughout its curricular and co-curricular offerings. For many departments, reaccreditation or required program reviews are the only times where this sort of reflection and programmatic change occurs. If faculty use assessment to make more frequent, subtle improvements in teaching and to more closely achieve their mission, then specific benefits accrue. This approach to assessment forces faculty to rethink the meaning of the department, the purpose of assessment, and the significance of political science education. It makes assessment a basic part of a deliberately constructed culture—assessment of intentionality. Assessment becomes part of the scholars’ habit of reflection and refinement. We plan, we implement, we assess, and we plan again. This form of “top-down” assessment requires a strong chair or assessment coordinator, who will be able to encourage or entice faculty engagement. Because this model requires faculty to be engaged or to accept the clear articulation of a mission that will be translated into learning objectives and tested through multiple assessment techniques, a strong institutional assessment environment is generally a prerequisite for this approach. This type of environment is more likely to be found in liberal arts, community college, or undergraduate institutions. Younger faculty are less resistant to issues of assessment and are more likely to be cooperative. While having a large number of adjunct faculty is often a disadvantage for a department, it may help make this model more feasible.

Authors: Deardorff, Michelle. and Folger, Paul.
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5
Making Assessment Matter


to begin building consensus for an assessment program. This approach demonstrates how simple course
assessment techniques can easily become the core of a comprehensive departmental assessment plan.
Building on successful classroom pedagogy, a department articulates a single shared objective and
creates a simple, non-threatening assessment process that could pave the way for more integrated
assessment approaches. Grassroots Implementation is most effective in departments where there is
strong resistance from the faculty towards issues of teaching and assessment, limited support or incentive
provided by the larger institution for faculty engagement, and the chair has no resources to entice
cooperation. If departments are able to identify which structure is most appropriate for their own
cultures and circumstances, assessment may be more fertile ground for the department.
Structural Implementation—“Mission-Based” Assessment
Structural implementation requires a department to integrate assessment throughout its curricular
and co-curricular offerings. For many departments, reaccreditation or required program reviews are the
only times where this sort of reflection and programmatic change occurs. If faculty use assessment to
make more frequent, subtle improvements in teaching and to more closely achieve their mission, then
specific benefits accrue. This approach to assessment forces faculty to rethink the meaning of the
department, the purpose of assessment, and the significance of political science education. It makes
assessment a basic part of a deliberately constructed culture—assessment of intentionality. Assessment
becomes part of the scholars’ habit of reflection and refinement. We plan, we implement, we assess, and
we plan again.
This form of “top-down” assessment requires a strong chair or assessment coordinator, who will be
able to encourage or entice faculty engagement. Because this model requires faculty to be engaged or to
accept the clear articulation of a mission that will be translated into learning objectives and tested
through multiple assessment techniques, a strong institutional assessment environment is generally a
prerequisite for this approach. This type of environment is more likely to be found in liberal arts,
community college, or undergraduate institutions. Younger faculty are less resistant to issues of
assessment and are more likely to be cooperative. While having a large number of adjunct faculty is often
a disadvantage for a department, it may help make this model more feasible.


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