A Love Affair With Assessment
Falling in love, all over again, like you just met yesterday.
On my relationship with methods. Every time I learn a new method the excitement grows. Revisiting an old method is like reacquainting with a close college friend from decades ago. Learning to implement a previously well-understood method in fresh ways… swoon.
I work in higher education. Have been in higher education for most of my career. Over the years I’ve split my personal and professional time between an eclectic mix of research (i.e. experimental, quasi-experimental, econometric), assessment (i.e. program success, student learning), and data science. Here are passages that motivate me. I hope they will motivate you, too.
Evaluation is an important element of effective student affairs program planning and administration. Evaluation efforts assist in the improvement of pro-grams and services; they also guide administrators in deciding which programs or services should be reduced or eliminated. (Zacker, 1996, p. 99).
By developing and implementing a carefully planned set of activities for the purposes of research and evaluation, the quality of the judicial system can be refined and improved. The weaknesses and strengths may be identified to help determine future directions. (Emmanuel & Miser, 1987, p. 85).
Showing Your Work
Increasingly, however, student affairs administrators are being required to provide evidence of their effectiveness, not only by members of their own institutions but from external sources as well. (Zacker, 1996, p. 99).
Both informal and formal evaluations of judicial programs are necessary to ensure the credibility and the integrity of college and university judicial systems. This process is essential to safeguard the constitutional rights of students and to maintain a quality judicial program that reflects the value of the institution. (Emmanuel & Miser, 1987, p. 85).
Pre-Establishing Measures of Success
The failure of the majority of institutions to evaluate and reward academic advising systematically has been an ongoing concern among members of the advising profession. This failure has been attributed to two interrelated factors: the failure of institutions to define what constitutes good advising and the failure to identify ways to measure it. (Creamer, 1994, p 119).
Although not readily available, models exist that identify the critical elements of both outstanding advisers and advising programs. Any definition of good advising must recognize that the task is multi-faceted and far more complex than is suggested by the traditional prescriptive view of advising as helping with course selection. (Creamer, 1994, p 119).
Creamer, E. G. (1994). Evaluating advising programs for undecided students. In V. N. Gordon (Ed.), Issues in advising the undecided college student (pp 109–122). (Monograph №15). Columbia, SC: National Resource Center for The Freshman Year Experience, University of South Carolina.
Emmanuel, N. R., & Miser, K. M. (1987). Evaluating Judicial Program Effectiveness. In R. Caruso & W. W. Travelstead (Eds.), Enhancing campus judicial systems. New Directions for Student Services, №39, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Zacker, J. (1996). Evaluation in Judicial Affairs. In W.L. Mercer (Ed.), Critical issues in judicial affairs: Current trends in practice. New Directions for Student Services, №73. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Thanks for reading
Send me your thoughts and ideas. You can write just to say hey. And if you really need to tell me how I got it wrong I look forward to chatting soon. Twitter: @adamrossnelson LinkedIn: Adam Ross Nelson on Twitter and Facebook: Adam Ross Nelson on Facebook.
Update: Minor edits for clarity, November 2020.