Comments on: Are you part of the solution, or part of the problem? http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 07:01:11 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: War on Teachers I: GIGO « The Confluence http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-735409 Fri, 29 Oct 2010 22:00:44 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-735409 [...] People began to get desperate. Tests were the only real lever they had, and they weren’t working so they did the usual thing. They tried them some more. “No Child Left Behind” became the mad aunt in the attic that people try to forget, but her nephew “Race To The Top” is now messing about in the kitchen. Educrats began talking about doing testing right by using assessments and rubrics and Student Learning Outcomes. [...]

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By: Acid Test » War on Teachers I: GIGO http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-735407 Fri, 29 Oct 2010 21:57:32 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-735407 [...] People began to get desperate. Tests were the only real lever they had, and they weren’t working so they did the usual thing. They tried them some more. “No Child Left Behind” became the mad aunt in the attic that people try to forget, but her nephew “Race To The Top” is now messing about in the kitchen. Educrats began talking about doing testing right by using assessments and rubrics and Student Learning Outcomes. [...]

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By: quixote http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-422387 Mon, 31 Aug 2009 15:53:23 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-422387 My apologies for not reading all of the comments. I just wanted to add that the “Outcomes Assessment” disease is not limited to humanities. It’s equally damaging in biology, and, I’d be willing to bet, all the sciences.

Critical thinking is essential to discovery in all knowledge, and what this crap does is kill it.

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By: dance http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-422307 Mon, 31 Aug 2009 14:40:19 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-422307 Taken me a while to come back and read all the comments, but I just wanted to pull out this bit from ADM’s comment above, and it happens to respond to Historiann’s recent comment:

I used to go and talk to one of my colleagues about an assignment, and whether ze thought it appropriate for the course I was teaching (my own, or one that ze and I alternated, it made no difference), and the colleague acted as though I were asking permission and/or didn’t know what I was doing. No. I know what I’m doing, but I wanted to get a feel for our students and the department, so I could gauge my assignments appropriately.

YES. I got exactly the same reaction when I came in as a new prof, assigned to teach 1 of 6 sections of our fundamental yearlong core course which all of us teach, and asked for more information. I have great conversations about how quizzes work, about how various assignments played out—but generally with people outside my dept, or outside my school. Rarely with my dept colleagues, all of whom are great and friendly people, caring teachers, whom I have no problem with. In a lovely, functional dept, our culture does not work that way. And since I can’t even do it one-on-one, god knows trying to make it happen on the dept level has been my forlorn hope for the last four years.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-420397 Sat, 29 Aug 2009 13:53:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-420397 Thanks for your comment, Earnest English, and welcome. You anticipate what I would say exactly: “I’m not saying that top-down sponsors anything conducive to education. Yet at the same time there are places where teaching is not discussed or shared in a systematic way for curricular improvement.”

Well–if you want to talk about teaching, TALK ABOUT TEACHING! I’ve never been in an environment where it was actively discouraged, and in fact, I’ve usually been in departments and had supportive friendships in which we talk about it constantly–not just bitching, but question-asking and problem-solving. We don’t need the OA fraudsters to do this. Ceding ground to them on this just “proves” their fraudulent point, which is that “we” don’t know what the hell we’re doing and we have to be led by educrats to talk about the activity most of us are engaged in for at least half of our professional time.

I really like Tom’s comment from yesterday morning, in which he said:

[O]ne wonders: if the tenure process works, one can theoretically expect tenured teachers to be effective teachers. Does the move towards assessment echo the move towards the de-tenuring of faculty teaching? That is, are universities actually saying: “Since fewer and fewer faculty are going through the tenure process, we need to keep a better eye on what kind of education they/we are delivering!” If so, of course, that would only support the claim that what might be just as effective is to funnel money into tenure-tracking more faculty.

Yeppers. (See also my comments on this post above about the de-skilling of teaching that OA pushes.) In my department, probational regular faculty AND all adjunct faculty are observed in the classroom annually and receive a letter in their file reviewing their teaching. We talk about these letters in Executive Committee and in T & P meetings. This is how it’s done, folks. We do this work already.

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By: Historiann has a man-date. . . : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-420393 Sat, 29 Aug 2009 13:42:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-420393 [...] I thought I’d let you know that the discussion about “Outcomes Assessment” inspired by Clio Bluestocking has spurred some ot….  Sisyphus at Academic Cog questions the value of quantitative information in evaluating [...]

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By: Earnest English http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-420274 Sat, 29 Aug 2009 09:38:11 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-420274 I just wanted to say how much I appreciate this entire discussion, especially ADM’s continued engagement and Historiann’s stepping in when the conversation seemed to start seeming a bit acrimonious.

One thing that ADM has mentioned but has not really gotten that much attention is when faculty are reluctant to talk to their colleagues about their teaching, their goals, student performance, etc. I trust that faculty are working on their own professional development as teachers, but if we don’t talk and really study what’s going on across the sections of a course, then I’m afraid we’re just not going to know. I’ve taught at some places where there was a huge range and variety in core classes taught by a number of different faculty paired with a real reluctance to share one’s teaching. (In one place, there were many efforts to create a teaching culture, but they seemed ineffective for whole groups of the department; some teachers seemed to react with hostility.) While I would always say there are many legitimate ways of achieving a course’s Aims and Scope or learning objectives, I think it’s also important that faculty do have a sense of the range of teaching and especially expectations and outcomes of a given course, especially a core or gen ed course.

I realize that OA makes teachers want nothing more than to cover our butts, not delve into their own and others’ teaching. I’m not saying that top-down sponsors anything conducive to education. Yet at the same time there are places where teaching is not discussed or shared in a systematic way for curricular improvement, for example. What do we do when assessment really is necessary, not by the muckity mucks, but by us? And how do we do that? And if we’re doing it anyway, how can we use those processes to show the muckity mucks that we’re already doing it and to get off our backs?

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By: Susan http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-419815 Sat, 29 Aug 2009 00:38:18 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-419815 I think doing outcomes assessment in a reasonable way (which is what my experience has been) can be useful. What I worry about is that we have to do it each year. And my guess is that the payoff will diminish. We’ll learn a lot initially, make changes, and then it will just be tinkering around the edges. And then it will be a massive time sink. . .

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By: Emma http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-419599 Fri, 28 Aug 2009 19:45:55 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-419599 Which is to say, I thought college wasn’t so much about what you know when you leave as it’s supposed to be about the process of learning it, expressing it, and defending it. How does any assessment tool, other than grades and exams over the course of semesters and years, really measure that? Isn’t that why you get grades in college? Otherwise, why not just stamp everybody’s forehead with “OA Approved” upon graduation and leave it at that?

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By: Emma http://www.historiann.com/2009/08/27/are-you-part-of-the-solution-or-part-of-the-problem/comment-page-2/#comment-419596 Fri, 28 Aug 2009 19:41:13 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=5977#comment-419596 I dunno about any of this from a prof’s perspective. But, from a student’s perspective, I’d much rather have my prof paying attention to me as a student rather than as a product to shape up and get out the door with the proper stuff stuffed into my head. It seems to me that these metrics or functions or assessments or whatever they’re called have the potential to fundamentally change the nature of the prof/student relationship for the worse, thus making college education less useful for students. That’s what it all feels like to me.

Disclaimer: I graduated from a VERY small liberal arts college nearly 20 years ago. So my knowledge of academia is very limited in all sorts of ways. But I do get that this issue is tied into other issues such as larger class size, declining tenure positions, etc. etc.

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