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Program Evaluation and Assessment: Integrating Methods, Process, and Culture
Unformatted Document Text:  weight can be very heavy. Thus it should not be a surprise that on most campuses faculty energy is focused on resisting the mandates to assess rather than on designing a system that will provide useful feedback. This push-back by faculty helps to explain why a number of schools are still in the early stages of building an assessment system. At the same time, as more campuses have established assessment processes, there are more faculty voices in the higher education community offering evidence of positive results that can come from assessment. This range of reactions to demands for assessment is reflected in the assessment papers presented at the last several years of the newly established APSA Teaching and Learning Conference. (American Political Science Association 2005, 2006, 2007). Those who have found assessment an intrusion into their existing effort to juggle teaching, research, and service responsibilities, cite limited resources, imperfect measures, unclear directives and leadership, non-enthused colleagues, and fear of misuse as a few of their concerns. On the other side, there are a number of papers that communicate how their campuses found a number of positive results emerge from their initiatives to comply with assessment demands. My conclusion is that in most cases, faculties can find ways to derive advantages from assessing, even when they are initially motivated by compliance rather than improvement. For departments that are struggling to get colleagues to pay attention to assessment, it is important to suggest ways that they can make assessment more than a bureaucratic activity. Patient but persistent nudging is usually necessary to get colleagues to establish and maintain a comprehensive assessment system. However, the deadlines attached to accreditation processes may be your best friend for beginning an initial assessment cycle. This deadline can be used to get the effort and support (or quiescence) necessary to move forward with a first round of assessment. Every university has unique cultural elements that must be considered. However, 7

Authors: Young, Candace.
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weight can be very heavy. Thus it should not be a surprise that on most campuses faculty energy
is focused on resisting the mandates to assess rather than on designing a system that will provide
useful feedback. This push-back by faculty helps to explain why a number of schools are still in
the early stages of building an assessment system. At the same time, as more campuses have
established assessment processes, there are more faculty voices in the higher education
community offering evidence of positive results that can come from assessment.
This range of reactions to demands for assessment is reflected in the assessment papers
presented at the last several years of the newly established APSA Teaching and Learning
Conference. (American Political Science Association 2005, 2006, 2007). Those who have found
assessment an intrusion into their existing effort to juggle teaching, research, and service
responsibilities, cite limited resources, imperfect measures, unclear directives and leadership,
non-enthused colleagues, and fear of misuse as a few of their concerns. On the other side, there
are a number of papers that communicate how their campuses found a number of positive results
emerge from their initiatives to comply with assessment demands. My conclusion is that in most
cases, faculties can find ways to derive advantages from assessing, even when they are initially
motivated by compliance rather than improvement.
For departments that are struggling to get colleagues to pay attention to assessment, it is
important to suggest ways that they can make assessment more than a bureaucratic activity.
Patient but persistent nudging is usually necessary to get colleagues to establish and maintain a
comprehensive assessment system. However, the deadlines attached to accreditation processes
may be your best friend for beginning an initial assessment cycle. This deadline can be used to
get the effort and support (or quiescence) necessary to move forward with a first round of
assessment. Every university has unique cultural elements that must be considered. However,
7


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