Jenks, Viveka, & Abby Green (forthcoming). Appraisal of the curricular assessment process. Research and Practice in Assessment.

Abstract: In higher education, many barriers exist to efficient outcomes assessment, one of which is the culture that exists within institutions and the perceptions of the faculty who are at the forefront of assessing student learning. It is often viewed as a “culture war” (Baas, Rhoads, & Thomas, 2016) as faculty remain unconvinced that what the assessment movement sets out to achieve is actually attainable. For this to gain traction and achieve its intended outcomes, the process directives and tasks must be amenable to the individuals who provide most of the data, the faculty. Since metrics are of upmost importance in the assessment world, appraisal of the process at a small medical college most appropriately utilized Q methodology, which provides the basis for the scientific study of subjectivity. Thirty-four statements were derived through interviews with the faculty and the Q-sorts were completed by 14 faculty and 4 staff from the same body. Two well-defined factors emerged. One group of participants believed in the movement, along with the benefits of assessment. The other group, surprisingly, was not the antithesis, but rather expressed concerns about the lack of time and resources dedicated to the data gathering as well as the possible punitive uses of the results. The factors that emerged could play a vital role in the adjustment and improvement of the process.

Viveka Jenks <vjenks@kent.edu> is the Education Innovations and Learning Design Manager, College of Podiatric Medicine, Kent State University, Kent, OH (USA).

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