Is Time Up for the Credit Hour?
How do we know if a student has learned enough to attain a degree or credential? Likely, the answer is currently phrased in the form of credit hours: 64 semester hours to earn an associate’s degree, 128 semester hours to earn a bachelor’s degree, and so on. But the credit hour, the most widely used currency of determining work put in toward a degree, was never intended to measure student learning at all.
How to Lead Assessment in Your Unit
Being in charge of assessment within one’s unit involves more than measuring student learning outcomes. It’s about leading cultural change, a process that is best undertaken in collaboration with those who know the discipline, program, and students best—the faculty and staff.
In an interview with Academic Leader, Linda Neavel Dickens, director of institutional accreditation and program assessment at The University of Texas at Austin, offered advice on how to lead this collaborative process.
Seven Important Factors in Program Assessment
“No one should be surprised to learn that faculty (in general) have not enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to see if their students measure up to those at other universities or to the expectations of their professors,” writes Diane Halpern in a “personalized review” of assessment programs in general and in her field of psychology. (p. 358) Faculty who believed assessment was another of those “trendy things” destined to pass once something else new came along have been proven wrong. The assessment movement is now close to 30 years old and still very much a part of the higher education scene. Institutions found it hard to ignore once it started being a condition for receiving federal funds and a review criteria used by the national accrediting associations and various professional program reviewing agencies.
Reviewing and updating some of her previous writings, Halpern suggests the list of factors important in program assessment have not changed but merit regular review. Here’s a summary of those seven factors drawn from a more detailed discussion of them that appears in the article referenced below: