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Engaging Faculty Wisdom: Tigers and Dragons

At Capital Community College, faculty response to a new emphasis on assessment has been mixed. Although the national student learning assessment movement was initially driven by faculty who were gathering information for the improvement of teaching and learning, in recent years assessment terminology has been adopted by external bodies (legislatures, boards of directors, accrediting agencies, funding sources) as a device for judging institutions. External accountability pressures have altered the tone of the discourse, and internal motivation has taken a defensive stance.

In the first year of our initiative for student learning assessment, we had extensive meetings with faculty groups and identified the following motifs in faculty concerns:

  1. Resistance to: Meaningless paperwork, misuses of documents, the slippery slope into oversimplifications and widget-counting, excesses of control over student learning.
  2. Motivation from: Interest in information, desire to improve continuities within programs, dedication to the power of education, loyalty to students.
All these responses must be taken seriously if student learning assessment is to find a place in the institution's culture. We need to acknowledge the crouching dangers in assessment language as well as the wisdom in the resistance, a resistance that may hide serious questions that provide internal motivation. Crouching and hiding have led us to the metaphor of The Tiger and the Dragon, and the language of their dialogue looks like this:

Crouching Tiger
Hidden Dragon
Eclipse of growth?
Crowd out surprises?
Culture of information
Misuse of data?
Response to society
Response to students?

The linked pages explore ways of developing that dialogue. You will need Adobe's Acrobat reader to view these .pdf pages.


Comments on and illustrations of the following topics are available through these links:
  • Engaging Faculty by finding a common language between assessment planners and teachers.
  • Templates for course objectives and program goals.
  • Assessment Policy for incorporating assessment into college structures.
  • Five Year Plan for the development of a replicable pattern and sustainable pace

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