Real and Useful Assessment

Why can't we - still - talk about assessment?

What counts as evidence? Who decides? How?

  • What is "exogeneous"? 
  • "Culture of Evidence"
  • How decide what kind of info will be useful, then how to collect it?

Helpful People

John Sener, Henry Holcomb, Doug Eder, Steve Ehrmann, Randy Bass, Rick Detweiler & John Ehrmann ==>

Provocative Thought Experiment

What if large number of experienced faculty were surveyed and asked questions about how much they value the long-term results of their own teaching and their students' learning?  
  • If the accumulation and statistical analysis of results of such surveys showed very positive attitudes, beliefs, judgments,  would that be accepted as significant and valid evidence by advocates of "assessment" of the effectiveness of teaching and learning?  
  • Who gets to decide which results of which "quantitative" social science style research will change beliefs, behaviors?  
  • How well do any results of "quantitative" social science style research change beliefs, behaviors? 
  • What can be done by whom to increase or decrease the impact of any results of "quantitative" social science style research on beliefs, behaviors? 

"Provocative Thought Experiment" prompted by Henry Holcomb's comments (July 12, 2015) on the comparative impact of powerful forces (including paranoia) governing people's beliefs and behaviors vis a vis a topic of great importance (to them):
A.  Accumulated feelings, habits, emotions 
B.  Accumulated "rational" evidence widely supported by peers

"Paranoia" = feelings that it is better to eliminate an option for everyone than to allow only others to benefit from it;  feelings that others are taking advantage of some attractive options more effectively than oneself... and that the others should be punished for doing so or prevented from doing so

Relevant Examples?

Macintosh wordprocessing studies of 1980s:  stopped research on possible negative effects on writing skills when (tacitly) recognized that only evidence of consequences as extreme as causing brain cancer would change anyone's behavior.

Obamacare:   advocates believe that opponents must be basing their positions on lack of (accurate) info;   opponents believe that advocates are trying to reduce personal freedom of choice

Assessment:  Advocates believe that opponents would change their positions (views, resistance) if opponents were presented with preponderance of available evidence of benefits of assessment;  Opponents FEEL that advocates are implicitly challenging the validity of advocates' long-term professional activities and that advocates expect opponents to accept negative judgments emerging from assessment activities and change behavior.  Advocates do not seem to recognize or accept vailidity of perceptions and judgment of those who might resist accepting the results of new assessment  (new assessment usually highly quantitative, even if only "quantitative" in the sense of accumulating solicited OPINIONS of students or colleagues)



The TLT Group helps people in educational institutions to improve teaching and learning by making more appropriate and cost-effective use of information technology without sacrificing what matters most to them.

PO Box 5643
Takoma Park, Maryland 20913
: 301.270.8312  Fax: 301.270.8110
To learn more about our work or our organization contact: 
Sally Gilbert