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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In the beginning...

I am the chair of my university's assessment committee. I've been the chair for a couple of years now. In theory, if my goal had been to document that experience, I should've started blogging when I first accepted the position. But I didn't. This is how assessment works in the real world.

The theoretical framework for assessment is as follows. First, you set a goal as to what you want to do. Second, you break down that goal into a list of subtasks that are required to take place in order to achieve that goal. Third, you develop measures in order to help you discern the progress you are making toward achieving those subtasks. Once these measures are put into place, you visit them on a periodic basis in order to monitor your progress and react to the data you gather in an appropriate way.

This is not a new idea. In creating the heaven and the earth, God subdivided the task into six subtasks. At the end of each subtask, the looked at what had been done and noted that it was good. That was assessment.

Few of us are in God's position, however, with the only public we have to please being ourselves. Most of us are in a position where data is required. In addition, few of us have the luxury of knowing with perfection what our goals are. Often our goals evolve over time. We decide we want to monitor our evolving understanding of assessment two years into the process.

Or the focus of the university shifts.

Or an opportunity arises.

All of these things have happened over the last couple of years.

It is my hope--dare I say goal--in this blog to document my evolving understanding of assessment in the area of higher education and to seek input from others. My hope is to create a relaxed atmosphere where readers feel free to comment and to add to my understanding.

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