Yep – it’s the “A” word again. “Assessment.” And in higher education, that word is just about everywhere we turn. I suspect that when you saw that word, you likely got a chill up your spine – oh no! Not assessment. Not again! Yep – assessment. Again. But I have developed a take on assessment that might help us see it differently. I believe that doing assessment is not about pleasing accreditors or other external stakeholders (what Peter Ewell, in a 2009 occasional paper for NILOA, identifies as the “Accountability Paradigm”), nor is its strength in supporting continuous quality improvement (what Ewell identifies as the “Improvement Paradigm”). Though these are perfectly legitimate reasons for attending to the work of assessment, to be honest, neither truly fuels my intrinsic desire to engage in the hard work of it all. Instead, I believe that assessment is really an act of care.
I care about my students; therefore, I assess. Let me explain.