August 08, 2012

How far have we come?

We have come a long way but do not want to fail to appreciate how far we have come.

Before:  What are programs DOING?
Now:  Is what programs are doing achieving the desired outcomes?

Before:  Focus on "inputs" (e.g., quality of faculty, quality of classrooms, etc.).
Now: Focus on the "effect" of the programs--"outcomes."

Before: Educational activities as an end.
Now: Educational activities as a means to an end.

Before: Educational practices determine the outcomes.
Now:  Outcomes inform educational practices.

Before: Assessment as a process to meet external requirements.
Now: Assessment as a process for feedback to the program with the purpose of improving student learning.

Unfortunately, there are still those who long to go back to the "good old days."  Those who felt (with good reason) that if they waited long enough, it would just all go away.  Are we where we really need to be?  Probably not.  Having worked with many faculty who serve on visiting teams for accrediting agencies (both regional and program), I have learned that there are still those who cling to the past and are resistant to the change that needs to happen to truly have a continuous process of improving student learning.  Only many examples of how the process can work efficiently and effectively while not inundating faculty with unnecessary and unproductive requirements will make this a truly sustainable process.  

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