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Program Evaluation and Assessment: Integrating Methods, Process, and Culture
Unformatted Document Text:  scenario, the syllabi and transcript reviews and the student survey responses would provide insight to what students were asked to do and how they evaluated their own research and writing habits and results. This knowledge will assist in reform efforts. Internal and External Measures Another enhancement in the choice of methods is to combine internal and external assessments. Thus in the scenario above, external examiners from other universities could be incorporated into the reading process to provide an external perspective. Or several members of the faculty could get together to organize a conference-like event on campus where external examiners are invited to review the student’s work. To add an external dimension to the indirect measures, the department could administer a survey for which there are external benchmarks. Some might wonder why external measures would enhance an assessment system. At the top of the list is that external measures permit the program to make useful comparisons with other programs and to examine other approaches to achieve program objectivs. An external examiner process is one means for doing this. Many faculty find the expectation for external assessment intrusive. It is more comfortable to not have outsiders evaluating programs and student work by outside standards. However, without an external perspective, there is a tendency for programs to fall into the Lake Wobegon syndrome where all students and all programs are judged to be above average. At Truman, President Charles McClain challenged faculty to view external measures as similar to the British model of education where students’ degree programs culminated with exams written and scored by external examiners. (McClain and Krueger 1985, Young and Knight 1993) He saw this as placing the emphasis on long-term learning, the ability to integrate learning over time, and an overall understanding of the field. He also believed the system was more likely to place the faculty member in the role of the students’ 12

Authors: Young, Candace.
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scenario, the syllabi and transcript reviews and the student survey responses would provide
insight to what students were asked to do and how they evaluated their own research and writing
habits and results. This knowledge will assist in reform efforts.
Internal and External Measures
Another enhancement in the choice of methods is to combine internal and external
assessments. Thus in the scenario above, external examiners from other universities could be
incorporated into the reading process to provide an external perspective. Or several members of
the faculty could get together to organize a conference-like event on campus where external
examiners are invited to review the student’s work. To add an external dimension to the indirect
measures, the department could administer a survey for which there are external benchmarks.
Some might wonder why external measures would enhance an assessment system. At the
top of the list is that external measures permit the program to make useful comparisons with
other programs and to examine other approaches to achieve program objectivs. An external
examiner process is one means for doing this. Many faculty find the expectation for external
assessment intrusive. It is more comfortable to not have outsiders evaluating programs and
student work by outside standards. However, without an external perspective, there is a
tendency for programs to fall into the Lake Wobegon syndrome where all students and all
programs are judged to be above average. At Truman, President Charles McClain challenged
faculty to view external measures as similar to the British model of education where students’
degree programs culminated with exams written and scored by external examiners. (McClain and
Krueger 1985, Young and Knight 1993) He saw this as placing the emphasis on long-term
learning, the ability to integrate learning over time, and an overall understanding of the field. He
also believed the system was more likely to place the faculty member in the role of the students’
12


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