Survey on Faculty Attitudes toward Assessment

Inside Higher Ed has just published the results of a survey they did on technology in the university.  Tucked away at the bottom of the article is a section on attitudes toward assessment.

Assessment. As public and political pressure builds on colleges to provide evidence about their performance and value, one of the major ways of doing so — various approaches to measuring student learning — continues to be viewed with suspicion and disdain by many professors.

Survey respondents were more likely to disagree than agree that assessment efforts on their campuses have “improved the quality of teaching and learning” (38 percent disagree versus 25 percent agree) or “helped increase degree completion rates” (36 percent disagree versus 27 percent agree).

Part of their skepticism may lie in the fact that many professors don’t feel that anything useful results from the efforts. Just a quarter of instructors (26 percent) say they regularly receive data gathered from their college’s assessment efforts (52 percent say they don’t), and 28 percent agree that “there is meaningful discussion at my college about how to use the assessment information.” About a third, 34 percent, say they have used data from these assessments to improve their teaching.

The other problem for many faculty members stems from their qualms about the motivations for assessment. Nearly six in 10 respondents (59 percent) agree that assessment efforts “seem primarily focused on satisfying outside groups such as accreditors or politicians,” rather than serving students.

It looks like about 25% of faculty are assessment supporters.  The last paragraph strikes me as most interesting: nearly 60% of faculty think assessment is primarily about satisfying outsiders “such as accreditors.”  Indeed.

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