Clio Bluestocking is cranky, again. Why? She has to “get dressed, drive up to the self-proclaimed ‘main campus’ (they aren’t, they just like to think they are) and sit in on one of those hideous Outcomes Assessment meetings run by the OA Borg, a group of True Believers who get paid a lot of money NOT to teach.” Yeah, that’s a loser of a proposition twice-over: 1) a meeting, run by 2) “Outcomes Assessment” fraudsters.
Oh, Historiann! You’re just an old crank too, you might be thinking. (You might be right.) For those of you who remain blissfully ignorant of “Outcomes Assessment,” allow me to explain: academic departments are asked to invent new tests and measures by which to measure their students’ progress, outside of all of those papers and exams we’re assigning to them in our classes to prove that our students are learning something. That’s right, friends! It’s redundant work for everyone, except for the “Outcomes Assessment” administrators who are paid to make $hitwork up for faculty and students who would prefer to be left alone to get on with the business of studying physical anthropology, or engineering, or zoology, or Romantic literature, or something else that has actual interest and value to people other than “Outcomes Assessment” administrators.
Why do I call “Outcomes Assessment” a fraud? Let Clio B. tell the tale:
Meanwhile, at our college, in our department, we all settled on a truce. Do what they ask, generate the data and hand it over with as little disruption to our own teaching as possible. After all, the OA Borg kept telling us, “You are the professionals. You know your subject. We trust you to come up with the most effective assessment instrument. We will accept what you come up with.” If we didn’t comply, then, “THEY will come in and create one for you.”
Someone actually told that to me yesterday. I wanted to tell her, “c’mon! You are far too old to believe that, if we are good little professors, and do exactly what is expected of us, then THEY are going to leave us alone.” I did tell her, “THEY are going to take it over if THEY want to no matter what we do.” She has become assimilated. She honestly believes that she can limit the impact of the system by becoming part of it. Our pity for her prevents us from holding her in contempt.
THEY are actually already taking it over. All of that “we trust you” and “you are the professionals” and “we will accept what you come up with” is just smoke. You see, we came up with ours, and they kept sending it back to us. At first, it was just tweaking the language. “Students will understand the causes of the American Revolution,” had to be “Students will demonstrate an understanding of the causes of the American Revolution.” That sort of thing. Then, their revisions became more detailed. “How does this question show that students are demonstrating the causes of the American Revolution?” they wanted to know.
Ultimately, what they wanted from us was an essay-based exam. Ultimately, we refuse to give it to them.
But, as we know from long experience with stray cats, ex-boyfriends, and telemarketers: if you feed it, it will just keep coming back! If you engage with them, they’ll never let you go! Continue reading